The job of the public affairs office is integral in maintaining a positive relationship with a military installation's
surrounding community. Commanding officers and the media are often misinformed when it comes to the function
of public affairs. That misinformation can lead to uneasy relationships. This project leads towards a full
understanding of the public affairs function by all parties involved.
The perception of the job and function of military public affairs plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the military in
dealing with the commanding officers, internal public, the media, and military public affairs professionals to establish and
maintain an effective working relationship. According to the Secretary of the Air Force, the job and function of military
public affairs professionals is to "communicate information about Air Force programs and activities both to the general
public and Air Force members and their families so they will be better informed about how well the air force is prepared to
carry out its mission." This affects the relationship of the military public affairs professional with the other groups. The
relationship of the military public affairs professionals with the commanding officers, the internal publics and the media is
supported on the Palo Alto Relational Theory (Bateson & Watzlawick, 1960). The Palo Alto Theory contends that tenants
of relationships are part of a system and when two people communicate, they are defining a relationship of expectations.
Thus, when either the military public affairs professional communicates with one or more of the other groups (officer, media,
and/or internal publics) each is affected. The groups expect something from the military public affairs professional. The
rules of this relationship are usually implicit and rarely explicit.
The civilian media and military public affairs offices have a close relationship. A relationship that has been
documented by a number of research articles, especially following an armed conflict. Perceptions of the function of military
public affairs by the media will be based on a literature review of this research. Because little to no research is available on
how commanding officers, and PA's view the function of public affairs, initial speculation will be based on a mini
convenience sample of each. The results of the mini convenience sample may propose a future research question and
implement methodology geared towards unifying the perceptions of the PAs job. As an extension of this pilot study, a
more in-depth questionnaire and subsequent analysis will be used as a guide to stipulate specific ways to manipulate the
independent variable, and consequently enhance understanding between commanders, public affairs professionals, and the