Literature Review
Team Members


Hometown News: Reaching out for Connectivity


The bottom line with this research is finding out if Hometown News has effective reach and whether it serves the best interests of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are featured. Can Hometown News set the agenda with its product? Can Hometown News make the military organizational identity more salient externally, and reinforce it internally? Can Hometown News make gatekeepers excited to receive military products? Research is the best way to determine this. Through internal and external surveys Hometown News be extremely confident that it is increasing awareness and fostering acceptance as stated in the Hometown news mission objectives (AFPD 35-1).

With the current connectivity crisis between the military and the civilian population, Hometown News has the distinct ability to bridge the gaps and bring the military story to the homes of any and every American who is interested in what the military does for the nation. To do this we first must establish that we have effective reach. From there the possibilities are endless. Hometown News in conjunction with the four service Public affairs components could institute a campaign for recruits and supporters using mass media. Ideas like the current on-line Army of One video game could be broadened to include real life games such as extreme sports. Or what about exploiting the technology boom in the United States? Showing military people working in exciting technical fields, creating interactive games and contacts within civilian population that could last forever.

Spanning the gap between the military and the general civilian population is critical on many levels. It is critical in understanding the history of the United States as well as looking at the world as it is today, and what the future may hold. Without the proper grounding knowledge of what the military does, the general civilian population moves further and further away from understanding the important role the military plays in the strength of this nation. The general population sees troop deployments, fighter jets, and ships at sea but do they really know the people who make those missions and machines go? Hometown News, along with the service's public affairs arm has the ability to bring the stories of "Joe Airman" or "Sally Marine" to the living rooms, radios, and newspapers of every taxpaying American. Will that make military issues more salient to "Joe Civilian?" Yes. Because it personalizes the steel, ammo, and jet engines with a face, a name, and a message: We are here to fight and protect you.

That is a big picture hope but with a solid plan, grounded research, and the willingness to connect military public affairs as a whole can create awareness and salience of military issues to the general population. Detailed research and analysis of military information campaigns and design needs to be looked at and this research is just a beginning. Through Hometown News the military already reaches millions each year, but is that reach effective? This research will hopefully help Hometown News maximize its efforts in telling the general population of what we do (military), how we do it, and why.

Projected Results (Internal Survey)
Many factors could influence responses to this survey including: operational climate and tempo; communication assets available to the serviceperson in their current environment; closeness to family members or friends back home and the length of the current separation. The operational climate, especially if the unit is encountering or is expected to encounter enemy action, will impact the servicepersons' morale greatly. If during a time of conflict and means of communication are limited or restricted, this effort may have a more positive affect. If loved ones can see that a serviceperson is alive and well when other means are limited, it can be a relief and morale booster to the warrior in the field. The timeline of the operation or deployment may also impact the positive affects. During the early stages, there is normally a substantial amount of confusion and a heavy operational tempo to get established in the particular operational area. As this early stage diminishes, often loneliness has the opportunity to settle in on many servicepersons, resulting in them being more likely to participate in the program and reflect positive affects from it.

Results from the internal survey may prove modest. America's military personnel are professionals and are focused on accomplishing their mission in demanding, uncomfortable conditions, oftentimes miles from home. Morale in this environment is often based on accomplishing the mission as quickly as possible and returning home. The fact that a radio, television or print segment ran back in the U.S., may have little, if any affect on the servicepersons morale while he's serving there. The most residual benefit, even to the forward-deployed warrior, would be for the servicepersons' family. With an all volunteer force serving in harms way, the potential to greatly affect today's military personnel's amount of pride based on this program may also be limited. This is further amplified because most times, if someone in the servicepersons' family doesn't record or clip the segment, he or she never sees it.

Projected Results (External Survey)
In the test market study, we project a measurable difference between the two cities. According to agenda-setting theory, the increased exposure to military stories, in the city with media outlets that use Hometown News products, would cause military issues to become more salient to people there. People in that city would be more aware of military issues and that is one of the program's goals. The effect on the goal of informing Americans would be harder to predict. While we project the Hometown News program will be effective in making people more aware of military issues, the size of that effect is even more important. The gain in effective reach may not be large enough to justify the expense of the program, or the gain may so clear that an increase in the size and scope of the Hometown News program may be in order.

We project the size of the effect to be less than would be achieved with a coordinated advertising program. An advertising program would have the advantage of a message specifically designed to achieve a desired effect without the need to be attractive to gatekeepers. Hometown News stories must stay in line with accepted news parameters and attract the attention of gatekeepers to be aired or published. The effect of Hometown News products should however, be better than a typical public service announcement. Because they are presented as news, Hometown News stories would be more credible than sponsored ads. News products are also more likely to be aired at a better time or receive a better spot in a newspaper than an unpaid public service announcement.