Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Varsity of Propaganda: The Publicity Department of the CCCP - 中共中央宣传部 [zhōnɡ ɡònɡ zhōnɡ yānɡ xuān chuán bù]

While we often go to great lengths to disassociate PSYOP from Propaganda, we recognize that it is important to study the efforts of others to influence their target audiences. The Economist of June 25, 2016 featured an article “Who draws the party line?” (see:, which is also the photo source.

The article describes the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It’s influence on the kind of massive scale you would associate with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to the article the Department “around $10 billion a year trying to get the Chinese government’s opinions into foreign media outlets.”

The Department directly or indirectly ‘supervises 3,300-odd television stations, almost 2,000 newspapers and nearly 10,000 periodicals.” And churns out almost 500,000 pro-government tweets a year!

The article goes on to describe some of the political machinations associated with the Department. They talk about how the Department has to “keep pace with the chancing political requirements of its boss”.

From a MISO community perspective, I wonder how much overlap and exchange there is between the Department and those charged with MISO in the People’s Liberation Army. One could argue that since the PLA and the Department both serve the Party and of course, Xi Jinping, China’s president, shouldn’t these entities be able to move people between them to broaden each other’s horizons?

The article concludes: “Like media organizations everywhere, the Publicity Department is struggling to keep pace with changing consumer demands. Unlike most such organizations, it is also having to keep pace with the changing political requirements of its boss, Mr. Xi. As an institution, these have made it more important than it was.”

It’s nice to know that consumerism is befuddling to even the largest influence organizations.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Perspective on Media: Today and Tomorrow

During the week of June 7, 2016 I had the pleasure attending a conference along with other Public Affairs Officers from a major non-profit organization. We had a number of highly experienced and insightful speakers. I’ve tried to capture the highlights of their comments here for you.

Media Today
·      Audiences are disloyal and disaggregated.
·      Competition

Current Best Practice Tips and Interesting Facts
·      Videos are a growing part of the media landscape. Keep them under 2 ½ minutes with 60 seconds a reasonable general target.
·      Defend, but don’t extend negative stories. Don’t give negative stories any exposure than necessary/minimal direct rebuttal.
o   Insure that all defenders are on the same messages.
·      National US media now target the 8th grade reading level.
·      Making the call to the media is better than getting the call from them.
o   Note however:
o   Be George Clooney not a Kardashian.
§  George Clooney picks his media spots, a Kardashian or one of their body parts seems to be everywhere all the time.
·      Saturday radio from 7 AM through 1 PM is the equivalent to midday/weekdays in terms of rating.
·      Stories are essentially about Characters (People) who overcome obstacles to achieve a worthy outcome.
·      Key angles for attractive stories:
o   Conflict
o   Authenticity
o   Perspective – become a resource
·      Characteristics of desirable stories:
o   You can’t Google them.
o   They put the selected medium ahead of their competition.
o   It’s new, not the same as previous items.
o   Bears in mind that each approver (Exec Producer, News Director, etc.) has their own agenda and biases.
·      Stories resonate when:
o   They have an emotional connection – compelling personal stories.
o   Impact the audience
o   Viewer Benefit
o   Empower the viewer
o   Don’t waste the viewer’s time.
o   Put a face on the data
·      Use digital platforms for videos – e.g. FaceBook
·      Types of Today’s Media
o   P          Paid Media
o   E          Earned Media
o   S          Shared Media
o   O         Owned Media

The Future of Media
·      The future of media is immersive and visual. The NY Times cardboard viewer is a preview of what is to come. People want to engage more of their senses to be a part of the action rather than just a viewer.

Photo Source:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A PSYOPerator Has to Been More Than PSYOP Qualified

One of the reasons I like working exercises is that they are a way to see what you can do and what you can’t do. A couple of weeks ago I served as the IO Role Player in an exercise simulating assisting a country with some disaffected military and political issues. This required me to act as the Staff IO Officer, but more importantly I’m in the weeds of the MISO support to the operation. While the scenario and MESL are both pre-written, sometimes the Exercise Director throws a curve ball.

During the last exercise I had to plan a MISO from scratch. Of course I had to figure out the MISO part – but there were other things I had to do and know before I could even approach the MISO component.

First I had to think like the CDR. No matter how detailed the CONOP, or how many briefings are given and received, there is always something that is left out and you need to understand the hidden or implicit elements of the big operation and your piece of it.

You need to be comfortable with mapping the main operation and your piece. In our world this may also mean understanding the nuances of the terrain and the weather as they might effect leaflet drops or radio wave propagation.

We also need to understand the information and digital battlefields. This means knowing  your traditional high payoff media, and how you might integrate social media and mobile phones. Consider how the country would be informed of a natural disaster across a large area and be sure you understand the legal and regulatory landscape as well.

Once you have crafted your MISO, you’ll need to develop MOE. Lastly you need to develop alternative MISO COA so that you can quickly adjust your influence fires depending on the outcome of your MISO and the ‘big’ operation.

As always, reader input is encouraged!