Affairs personnel have one of the most challenging and unique missions
in the armed services. They are responsible for developing and implementing
information campaigns to inform and educate military members and
the American public about the roles and mission of the military
in peacetime and in war. In the military, mission accomplishment
is the ultimate goal. However, seizing the initiative to tell the
military story is the only way to gain and maintain the trust and
support of military members and the American Public.
that effective communication is one of the most important elements
of leadership; it is fundamental that commanders at all levels support
the Public Affairs mission. Public affairs professionals must provide
commanders the opportunity and training they need to effectively
communicate key messages to the internal and external audiences.
Likewise, commanders must provide their Public Affairs personnel
the access and latitude to provide timely and relevant operational
not every military commander realizes the true value of Public Affairs.
If commanders do not recognize the full potential of Public Affairs,
commanders are unlikely to provide the necessary support to ensure
success. A commanderís lack of support for Public Affairs may result
from a lack of education and understanding of the Public Affairs
role. Another factor may be the commander's fear and distrust towards
the news media. These "feared" reporters and journalists are actually
a useful medium to assist commanders in communicating the military
project is designed to assess commandersí perceptions of Public
Affairs from the perspective of the Public Affairs professional.
The researchers developed a 50-question Internet survey that was
distributed to Public Affairs professionals in the United States
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Through Likert
scale questions, Public Affairs personnel assessed their commanderís
attitudes toward Public Affairs. A single written comment question
regarding favorable or unfavorable commander support is included
for obtaining content analysis data. The researchers recommend that
a follow-on version of this survey should eventually be sent to
commanders, and the results from both should be analyzed to assess
the major influences shaping leaderís perceptions and attitudes
toward Public Affairs. The ultimate goal of this research would
be to devise strategies that PA professionals could use to foster
a positive and productive relationship between the commander and
project will attempt to determine the level of support from the
commander towards Public Affairs programs. Some obstacles that Public
Affairs personnel must overcome are commanders who typically refuse
interview requests, shy away from interaction with the community,
resist the chance to write an editorial for the base newspaper,
or neglect the opportunity to address their internal audience.
professionals should have the ability to quickly assess and understand
their commander's perceptions and attitudes towards Public Affairs
in order to understand how to interact with them. Without an understanding
of their perception, Public Affairs professionals are handicapped
in their ability to gain the confidence and support of the commander
and other staff members.
design consists of a quantitative questionnaire for Public Affairs
officers to assess their commander's perceptions and attitudes toward
Public Affairs. The data collected from the initial questionnaires
should be used in the development of future questionnaires directly
targeting those in command positions. Ultimately, this research
will assist in developing strategies of influence that Public Affairs
personnel can use to generate support from commanders who have traditionally
been non-supportive and uninvolved in public affairs programs.
In order to
approach this problem more appropriately, it is necessary to identify
relevant theories that serve to conceptualize the problem allowing
for a more effective plan of study.