Military Public Affairs Professionals' Perceptions

In the pilot survey, military public affairs professionals report that, the primary function of the military public affairs office is to support the commander in the creation and dissemination of accurate information about the military and military related events to internal and external publics in a timely manner. Because the public affairs representatives are the spokespersons for the commander, the installation or service, it is essential that they maintain a positive image in all they do. In addition, public affairs professionals advise military members (including senior leadership) about their responsibilities with regards to interacting with internal and external publics. At times public affairs must provide reactive "damage control" in order to minimize negative public perceptions. The public affairs office also maintains a type of "gatekeeper" role in that they are the sole release agency of all information.

In addition, military public affairs professionals indicate that,the overall role of public affairs in the military is to be the mediator between the internal organization (the military and its people) and external audiences, thereby gaining and maintaining public support. The public affairs office also preserves the positive image of the individual service, engages in image repair strategies when necessary and provides guidance to commanders/command as well as being a gauge for the command climate. Military public affairs professionals also report that, commanders use public affairs to provide them with accurate information and training in dealing with the media and the public. In addition, public affairs professionals keep abreast of a myriad issues to ensure the commanders are fully aware of, and are prepared for, impending crisis situations. Commanders also use public affairs to provide the base members, media and community leaders information about the base, the service and the military overall. When necessary, commanders use public affairs professionals to work additional functions normally associated with the protocol office such as organizing social functions, escorting distinguished visitors, and to do a variety of associated “dirty work”. Commanders also use public affairs to advertise their own personal achievements forpromotional purposes.