Wednesday, January 2, 2008

PAO Skills A Must For PSYOP Professionals

The key difference between PSYOP and PAO is that while PAO seeks to influence media who in turn communicate to their audience, PSYOP influences the audience directly.

Over the course of my marketing and military careers I’ve worked with the media in a number of ways: source, analyst, writer, and Public Affairs Officer and I’ve learned that both disciplines have a lot to learn from each other.

For PSYOPers there is no doubt that some PAO skills come in very handy. In today’s Internet connected world anyone can be in the news in a matter of moments. PSYOP tactical team members in particular have a high likelihood of being singled out by media as either good subjects for a story, as a spokesperson or as a source.

In classic terms the media tends to look for stories that are timely, inform, educate, entertain and have a connection with their audience be it local, national or international.

If you are called upon to be a spokesperson, here are some rules from a City Government PAO from a city with a population of about 135,000:
Know when to shut up.
Assume the microphone is always on
Always assume there is a camera (remember tops of masts and helicopters have cameras)
You are always on the record.
Have a couple of safe (home base”) messages that you can always refer back to.

If by some quirk of fate you find yourself acting as the CDR’s APO or are pressed to do so, here are some tips for “Press Secretaries” from the PAO a major airport:

Tell The Truth
Return the call
Represent what you respect
The Public Affairs Officer is not the story
Context is Critical

And if you want to learn some news about news, check out: or for California News:

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