DoD Joint Course in Communication                    Class 02-C


Crossing the "Gulf of Media Relations"
Examining media relations practices in non-military organizations, via benchmarking, for military public affairs application


Brian Davidson

Dan Carlson

Neil Murphy

Tracey Goff










The purpose of this paper is to develop a foundation for the benchmarking of media relations practices for military public affairs. The benchmarking of media relations practices is accomplished through application of communication theories intrinsically related to media relations. Benchmarking is also accomplished through an application of a set of three criteria, developed by the team, based on commonalities of media relations field functions and a comprehensive review of military media relations regulations. The military services believe that they have based their public affairs media relations programs on solid foundational doctrine. Despite this doctrine, there exist numerous service in-house studies, books, articles, and frequent seminars that identify a perceived gap. This gap exists on many levels, but primarily lies between what the military does and what the media perceives our role should be. On a larger scope, the examination of media relations techniques through benchmarking helps to examine if this mindset of a "gap" truly exists, if it is warranted, if it lies in practices and doctrine, and if it can be improved by applying new practices.

Our research identifies best practices, or benchmarking. Benchmarking is a business practice that is being pursued in thousands of corporations across the world. By applying the principles of benchmarking, the authors aim to help identify better practices, if evident, and present them for application throughout the Department of Defense (DoD). This project will also serve as a "do-it-yourself" model for benchmarking unit-level media relations practices. Although this project only examines "best practices" of the convenience sample it used due to time constraints, it offers insight into what are some good practices. These practices may be applied in order to advance the relationship of military public affairs and the media and help to ensure mission accomplishment.

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Throughout the history of the military and the history of democratic media there has existed a competitive relationship. The balance between the right to know and need to know often creates misunderstanding and miscommunication. The public has a right to know what the military does. Citizens pay taxes, and an informed public is the key to a democracy, and it allows the military to exist (HQMC, 1997).

The coupling of the military and media is similar to an arranged marriage. The arranger, the Constitution of the United States of America, presupposes that the military is accountable to the American public as it is a partner within the executive branch of the federal government. As a partner, the military uses funds and utilizes America's most precious commodity, human resource, to defend interests abroad and at home. The media, often referred to as the fourth estate, provides information to the American public so they can make decisions through their elected legislators. This arrangement, like many marriages, is not without problems. The first problem area is operational security.
The first essential in military operations is that no information of value shall be given to the enemy. The first essential in newspaper work and broadcasting is wide-open publicity. It is your job and mine to try to reconcile those sometimes diverse considerations. (Eisenhower, 1941)
The problem of balancing operational security with public right to know is but one problem that faces this relationship. Before one can examine and improve the relationship, one must understand and have a common ground on what is meant by the word relationship when talking about the military and the media. Webster's defines relationship as the quality of state of having a connection and awareness of the kinship (Neufeldt, 1998). This definition fits the military/media relationship very well as this connection is one based on the same principle of providing information to the public while working together as a team.

This paper examines the teamwork part of this relationship, and benchmarking helps to improve that part and further the mission. An important note regarding this statement is that the goal of this paper is not to gain an upper hand or more control in the relationship, but to improve the relationship in order to accomplish the mission better. This understanding of relationship will also help us better define "success" as it relates to media relations. Success is measured in how well we accomplish the mission of public affairs and provide information. The focus is on the release of accurate and timely information and not in whether or not the news released is positive or whether it casts the military in a positive light.
The relationship is also an inter-organizational relationship. However, as in the case of many organizations - they don't relate, people relate (Infante, Rancer & Womack, 1997). Without people in the process, a military and media relationship would not occur. If we then theorize that the relationship is of a personal nature, we can assume that this relationship is intercultural. As we move through the examination of the relationship, one may also say that a reason why this coupling may often be considered strained is that it is an inter- organizational, personal, and cultural relationship. Elements of many healthy relationships frequently include commitment, responsibility, self-preservation, honesty, and work. If a better understanding of this relationship, coupled with better practices, is developed, the "gap" between the military and the media may be reduced.

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Statement of Problem
Military public affairs are generally comprised of three areas: Community relations, media relations, and internal relations. Media affairs is a dynamic and fast-paced occupation, and it is often times an on-the-job training event for the parties involved. Many of the challenges facing the public affairs community revolve around an "ethnocentrism" in part by both the military and the media. As evidenced in many discussions and writings about military and media relations, there exists a definitive gap or misunderstanding between the two from both sides. Evidence supporting this mistrust and misunderstanding is supported through article and book titles such as: "The Pentagon Reporters; Why People Distrust The Press; Trusting Ourselves With The News; Shooting The Messenger; How The Generals Out Did The Journalists; Trying To Censor Reality; Hotel Warriors; The Odd Couple, Panama - Live from the Marriott." Much of the misunderstanding blame may fall on the military according to U.S. Army Colonel, Harry G. Summers.

There is a tendency to blame our problems with public support on the media. This is too easy an answer. The majority of on-scene reporting from Vietnam was factual, that is, the reporters honestly reported what they had seen first hand. Much of what they saw was horrible, for that is the true nature of war. It was this horror, not the reporting, that so influenced the American people. (Summers, 1982, p.22)
Marine general Anthony Zinni remarked: And the media report everything--good things, warts, and all. And everyone knows that the warts tend to make better stories. As a CinC, I've probably been chewed out by seniors about five times -- and four of the five were about something I'd said to the media. At this stage of my life, it doesn't really bother me--because where in hell do I go from here? But if you are a lieutenant or a captain and you see another officer get fried, you react differently. The message is clear: 'Avoid the media.' And the message hardens into a Code: 'They are the enemy. Don't be straight with them.' And that is bad. (MDET, 2002, p.2)

This benchmarking study is conducted to try to make relationship better, to be straight, and cultivate the desire for the media to be straight as well. The focus is not to manipulate or control the relationship, but to improve its symbiotic nature.

Both the military and the media are playing for the same team, yet there is a perceived struggle to work with each other on many levels. The press and the military have played vital roles in American democracy since the founding of the nation and in order to move forward and provide the American public with the information they deserve, the gulf must be bridged. Benchmarking practices of other successful organizations help the military evaluate what is being done and what can be done better.

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Literature Review
This review is an account of a miniscule portion of what has been published on the various topics that were found insightful to this paper. Six distinct and important areas have been selected to provide the reader with a better understanding of what knowledge and ideas exist on the topics covered and how the ideas relate to the criteria presented in the methods section of this piece. The strengths and weaknesses of the contexts examined serve as a guiding concept for the reader to better understand the areas targeted for benchmarking and to critically examine the work. The relevant, appropriate, and useful areas selected include: benchmarking, information and uncertainty context, intercultural communication theory, interpersonal communication theory, organizational communication theory and the context of mass communication.

Benchmarking is a method used for this project and as such, an important element to examine. Business literature across the internet and trade magazines seeking people to use their benchmarking organization or techniques tell us that benchmarking can be a tool to help you improve your business processes and that almost any business process can be benchmarked. The process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help an organization improve its performance can be very effective according to The Benchmarking Exchange (KM World, 2002). "To be the best, you must compare yourself to the best" (Hoewing, R. President, Public Affairs Council).

Any business or agency can use benchmarking as it is a highly respected practice in the business world. As an activity, a successful business looks outward to find best practice and high performance and then measures actual business operations against those goals. Since 1992, the use of benchmarking has increased and many leaders in the business community use the techniques and consider themselves "among the leaders in their industries" (Fleisher, C., 1995, p. 5).
One of the biggest mistakes people make when beginning their benchmarking endeavor is that they only look to benchmark someone within their own industry (KM World, 2002). In this case, if the authors examined military to military, odds are, they would not produce desired results. One of the risks encountered in conducting a benchmarking study on media relations is that the military may in fact know what works and what doesn't, so many may take this study for granted. If anything, this study could serve as a brainstorming exercise to examine the way other organizations achieve their public affairs successes. Another problem that the authors could run into is that instead of examining what we already do, we could actually benchmark an organization worse than our organization or benchmark something that we cannot use due to the obvious differences in military public affairs, and commercial or private media relations.
A key in benchmarking is to find a company that is a good model. With limited resources, funding, and time, our group created a means to gain a best-case scenario. Without a large sample of "best companies" that were readily accessible, we opted to find variety in agencies. Selection of organizations for this study is more closely examined in the methods and discussion sections.

Sometimes referred to as Best Practices, Exemplary Practices, and Business Excellence, benchmarking seeks to finds better processes that are adaptable to organizations. The research team selected a wide variety of agencies to examine in order to find the broadest range of ideas. More information about the sample is contained in the methods section.
In this case, the ability to conduct a purist benchmarking study is limited, and we have designed a system of examining three main media relations. Developed from a pre-examination of existing concepts and brainstorming, the criteria developed falls into three categories: PEOPLE, TRAINING, and EQUIPMENT. A series of theories learned throughout the DoD Joint Course in Communication are then applied to the three categories. Examining the current state, desired state and other business' states helps create a better and more useable benchmarking.
Information and Uncertainty Context
The idea of uncertainty reduction has been around since humans were able to communicate. Studying uncertainty reduction helps us to better understand and predict human behavior, and the relationship between the military and media.

Scholars are looking at motivation factors to better understand uncertainty. Researchers such as Mignerey and Rubin (1995) and Kramer (1999) looked at behaviors and variables that effect our motivations to reduce uncertainty. One of the results of these studies is that a newcomer to a corporation will have a high degree of uncertainty. Their research also attempts to understand frequent movers' tolerance for uncertainty and how this relates to their socialization. The theory of interpersonal communication is becoming the building block for improving corporate socialization and can be applied in our context. In many ways, the media are often thrown into situations in which they have little idea what the military is about and that there are diverse considerations to be made when reporting on this organization. If they have much uncertainty, they may find it hard to work with the military and they may develop unfair or unrealistic expectations. Add unfamiliar surroundings of a deployed situation and the uncertainty is heightened.
The early stages of uncertainty reduction theory (URT) looked at what role impressions and perceptions play in forming opinions about people we meet for the first time. Asch, S. E. (1946) marveled over human beings' ability to create an impression of a person by understanding the characteristics of a person. By observing traits humans are able to form impressions about other individuals. He theorized that "if a person possesses traits a, b, c, d, and e, then the impression of him may be expressed as Impression = a + b + c + d + e" (Asch, 1946, p.258-259)." He further hypothesized that each trait interacts with one or more of the others and the overall impression can be a result of these effects (Asch, 1946).

Newcomb (1953) wrote about symmetry in interpersonal relationships. His hypotheses is that person "(A) transmits information to another person (B) about something (X) and their interdependence is termed co-orientation" (Newcomb, 1953 p. 393). The theory states that there are factors that negatively effect the relationship between (A) and (B) called "strains" (Newcomb, 1953). When (A) is positive toward (B) and positive toward (X) and (B) is positive toward both (A) and (X) there is symmetry or balance to the relationship. If there is a positive and a negative either towards (X) or each other the relationship begins to deteriorate (Newcomb, 1953). The conclusion of his 1953 study is that "achievement of symmetry can vary with the intensity of attitude toward (X) or the attraction toward (B)" (Newcomb, 1953, p. 398). Whether the relationship is voluntary or forced can act as a situational variable in this model. Newcomb (1953) then states if attraction is reduced between (A) and (B), strain is then limited mostly to the (X) variable (Newcomb, 1953). In his 1961 book The Acquaintance Process, Newcomb expands upon his original theory. He breaks the strains into categories to measure their effect on symmetry. He also breaks symmetry into two categories; Individual System Orientation and Collective System Orientation. In the Individual System, (A) attributes attitudes to (B) about (X) and relates them to his own attitudes towards (X). A Collective system is when both (A) and (B) have individual systems and they assume that the other has created their own individual system (Newcomb, 1961). The example he uses is "on the same day (A) sees (B) kicking a dog and (B) sees (A) fondling the same dog, and if each of them assumes that the other has observed him in the act" (Newcomb, 1961, p. 11). Newcomb (1961) theorizes that both (A) and (B) share a joint dependence based on (X). When attitudes change or diminish towards (X) an imbalance in the relationship occurs. His conclusion is that humans will make changes during acquaintance to maintain a balance in the relationship. Therefore, humans socialize themselves to maintain this symmetrical balance within interpersonal relationships. When dealing with media in deployed circumstances, military must ensure that the media does not try to befriend them and must always create a professional environment. Laying expectations out and setting "ground rules" is a beneficial measure relating to URT.

Taylor, Altman and Sorrentino (1969) developed the social penetration theory, a psychological step further into URT. Heath and Bryant (2000) cite Taylor, Altman and Wheeler who say, "people determine the amount and quality of disclosure they need or are comfortable using to get to know one another" (1973, p. 42). Taylor, Altman and Sorrentino hypothesized that, "a growth in interpersonal relationships results from interpersonal cost/rewards factors, personality characteristics and situational determinant" (1969, p. 325). The idea of cost and rewards is that people use a process of evaluating cost and rewards to determine worthiness of the relationship. Social penetration theory is useful for understanding the development and deterioration of interpersonal relationships.

Uncertainty reduction theory's roots lie in psychology's penetration theory. The theory has developed from a very vague theory concerning the basics of interpersonal communications into a versatile operational theory that now has many uses. In what appears to be the best representation of the new role of uncertainty reduction theory, Kramer (1999) looks at motivation to uncertainty. Since URT is such a basic principle, he creates a new theory called motivation to reduce uncertainty. He begins by looking at what motivates a person to reduce uncertainty. Kramer also considers people who don't have a desire to reduce uncertainty in new relationships. An example would be a military gate guard admitting media; URT is not likely to apply to that interpersonal communication situation. Kramer's theory also proposes that there can be both positive and negative motivations to reduce uncertainty. Kramer's study finds that individuals have different levels of uncertainty in the same situation. A veteran military beat reporter would be less likely to be uncertain at a staff meeting or pre-deployment briefing than a newcomer would. Kramer's research also breaks down information seeking into greater detail. He categorizes information seeking into more specific terms and also considers how incorrect information can still reduce uncertainty. Maintaining and application of many theories of URT can significantly aid in the understanding of the military and media relationship.

Intercultural Communication Theory
When intercultural communication study is applied in understanding the military and media relationship, the intangibles of why there is a perceived gap in the relationship can become clearer. Understanding the intercultural communication aspects of the military helps outsiders understand the often times intricate and high context cultural nature of working with the military. Examination of the military and the media from this context helps insiders discern and realize why the organization operates and communicates the way it does from an intercultural perspective and how to better communicate with others.

Intercultural communication is a term which covers communication between people from different cultures (Aldridge, 2002). Throughout the literature reviewed for this paper, the term is used in a variety of ways that reflect internal communication among members and external communication between cultures. Each explanation is entirely valid, yet each is limited. Therefore, it is helpful to pick from each to make a better sense of it all and these concepts can be easily applied to our problems.

Communication is a complex phenomenon and when communication takes place between two cultures it doubles the complexity. Any messages transported across boundaries, as in many other communications, are "coded" in one context and then "decoded" in another. This process makes the likelihood of miscommunication that much greater (Smith, 1966). Specific "code rules" also come into effect, in that there are specific manners of communicating that take into account norms when others address equal or higher status individuals (Collier, 2000). The amount of coding and translation that sometimes must occur when media and the military get together is astounding. This problem could quite possibly be misinterpreted to be that the military is lying or vice versa, when in fact it is a small cultural problem.
Understanding culture and how it relates to communication is essential in first understanding ourselves and in understanding others. Communication and culture influence each other reciprocally. The cultures from which individuals come affect the way they communicate. The way individuals communicate can often cause change in their cultures (Gundykunst, 1988). The very mention that a "gap" exists between the military and media may also influence communication before it even happens.

Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, two-world renowned communication researchers, in the late 1930s developed a very useful theory entitled "The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis" (Berlo, 1960). The theory states that a person's language will in some ways determine what the person sees, what he thinks about, how he arrives at decisions, and how he will apply things overall. Sometimes the media or military may have bias and judgments or ethnocentric thoughts when dealing with each other and this can create barriers to communication. Another step in understanding intercultural communication is to explore the concept of culture. "Culture is just the way we do things around here...Culture is the set of norms by which things are run - or simply are" (Novinger, 2001, p. 14). Another explanation states that culture is "the traditions, customs, norms, beliefs, values, and thought patterning which are passed down from generation to generation" (Prosser, 1978, p.5). The Vietnam generation of correspondents and military leaders may have created a perception for the current population and unfairly biased them before relationships begin.

Rules and roles in intercultural communication can also play a role in understanding relationships explored in this paper. Dance states that a "role refers to the set of expectations which group members share concerning the behavior of a person who occupies a given position in the group" (1972, p. 106). Another example of this would be high- and low-context, which refers to the amount of information that a person emits, both verbally and non-verbally. This can vary from a high-context culture where background information is understood, to a low-context culture where much of the background information is unmistakable in an interaction (Nucci, 2000). People from a high-context cultures, such as Japan, often send more information implicitly, have a wider "network," and tend to stay well learned on many subjects. People from low-context cultures, such as the United States, usually verbalize much more background information, and tend not to be well informed on subjects outside of their own interests. When military members communicate with the media, the possibility exists that they will take for granted how much the listener knows about the subject under discussion. In low-context communication, the receiver will identify very little and must be spoon fed much of the information. In high-context communication, the listener is already "contexted" and does not need to be given much background information (Heath & Bryant, 2000). Understanding these factors, it is essential to institute education of each side in order to improve the communication between the two.

Relational Communication Theory
The depth of an intimate relationship between two people or mediums is determined by the type and amount of interpersonal communication that takes place between them. Positive and open communication in an interpersonal relationship promotes better understanding of each other, work that is more efficient and of higher satisfaction than if the relationship is strained (Samovar & Porter, 1985). Using interpersonal communication, people influence, and are influenced by, the actions and statements of others (Heath & Bryant, 2000). Thus, maintaining positive interpersonal communication in the relationship between business and media should be conducive to better media coverage of business events that could influence public opinion.

Rogers, Millar, and colleagues produced reports indicating that there are three dimensions of communication in a relationship. These dimensions are usually not evident on the first encounters in a relationship, but rather develop over time. The communication dimensions are control, trust, and intimacy, each of which is divided into three more definitive roles (as cited in O'Hair, 1988).

Relational control is divided into roles titled redundancy (the degree of change during message exchange), dominance (how much one participant can control the relationship), and power (the ability to influence or restrict a participant's behavior) (as cited in O'Hair, 1988). Control itself "is the need to exert influence or power over others, and in turn, to accept influence from others. It ranges from strong or complete control to no control" (Ruffner & Burgoon, 1981, p. 29). Combining this definition with the three roles of control, communication within an interpersonal relationship will be positive if both parties are satisfied with the amount of control they perceive they have. If the parties are dissatisfied with their amount of control, there is a higher probability of struggle to gain more control.

Trust is categorized into vulnerability (how vulnerable each partner is to the other), reward dependability (how often one partner is rewarded for being vulnerable), and confidence (whether one partner perceives a degree of betrayal in the relationship) (as cited in O'Hair, 1988). In a trusting relationship, partners acknowledge their dependence on each other and their belief that the other partner will not take advantage of or exploit them (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997). When there is mutual trust within an interpersonal relationship, there is "the growth of mutual confidence and respect, as well as a lessening of defensive behavior and suspicion" (Ruffner & Burgoon, 1981, p. 114). In a trusting relationship, misunderstandings are less frequent and if there is a misunderstanding, there is usually more effort toward resolution (Ruffner & Burgoon, 1981).

The three components of intimacy are transferability (how much people outside the relationship fulfill needs that should be fulfilled within the relationship), attachment (the amount of affection in the relationship), and knowledge (whether each partner can recognize the other partner's communication efforts) (as cited in O'Hair, 1988). Intimate communication settings are "characterized by relative permanency, trust, and increased self-disclosure behaviors" (Ruffner & Burgoon, 1981, p. 210), with "trust and self-disclosure being the most critical elements" (Ruffner & Burgoon, 1981, p. 211). In an intimate relationship, partners rely on each other to fulfill needs within the relationship (Infante et al, 1997). As intimacy within a relationship grows, people learn more about each other, thus allowing for more equal and honest disclosure of information (Heath & Bryant, 2000).

Therefore, building and promoting a positive relationship with the media should be a priority in business. Because media so frequently influences the public, the interpersonal communication between the business and the media should assume the three aforementioned qualities: balanced control, mutual trust, and intimacy that is reciprocal. A positive presence of these three qualities will promote feedback and allow for more growth in the relationship.

Organizational Communication Theory
According to Hall (2002), organizational communication involves the exchange of messages to stimulate meaning within and between organizations and their environments. It includes one-on-one communication, small group communication, mass communication, and public communication. Organizations should reflect the larger culture of their workers if they wish to manage effectively.

According to Heath & Bryant (2000), people spend their lives in a variety of organizations such as businesses and governmental agencies. Organizations communicate with people inside and outside the organization through conversation, documents, and newsletters. Through communication, people seek to achieve individual and collective goals. Heath & Bryant continue, "An organization's ability to achieve its goals depends on the ability of key personnel to obtain information from outside" (p. 340). If an organization does not have outside information, it may have a false sense of security and increased uncertainty.

The extent of harmony an organization has with key outside influences can affect operations. To move toward harmony, an organization may communicate in ways that can help shape the social reality by which outside influences view it and the operational standards. An organization can increase trust that it is acting in the interests of others by using two-way symmetrical communication (Heath & Bryant, 2002).

Mass Communication Context
Society cannot exist without people influencing one another's opinions and behavior (Devito, 1986). People seek influence as well as exert it. The relationship of influence between military public affairs practitioners and the media is a fragile one. In order to draw accurate measures of the media's influence on the public, research is generally focused on a specific event and the repercussions of that event. However, military public affairs must focus on more than just a specific event; they must focus on long-term, two-way communication as a standard daily practice. This helps assimilate reporters into the military mindset and gives them a unique insight when writing or reporting on military issues.
Models that may predict the media's responses to military issues vary. One of the earliest models that may be applied is the laws-based, drive-motive paradigm. In 1940, Yale researchers began to advance this paradigm with a series of studies.

This research is as timely today as it was when it began because it may be applied to the need to build ongoing media relations. As this model is applied to the military/media relationship, it relies on the learning theory. Simply defined, the learning theory uses a linear model that traces who says what to whom with what effect (Lasswell, 1948). It can be reasoned in developing the relationship that a message leads to learning through repeated actions. In the case of public affairs and soliciting support from the media, this argument forms the basis for measuring response to educating journalists about military issues:

A major basis for acceptance of a given opinion is provided by arguments or reasons (obtained from a message) which, according to the individual's own thinking habits, constitute "rational" or "logical" support for the conclusion. In addition to supporting reasons, there are likely to be other special incentives involving anticipated rewards and punishments, which motivate the individual to accept or reject a given opinion. (Hovland, Janis, & Kelly, 1953, p. 11)
Findings of this research show that a message is received because it captures attention, and if it is understood, it leads to acceptance. Reporters would accept the message if they believe it to be reasonable. To have impact, a message must be retained, requiring that the receiver has the ability and motivation to remember the information. If these factors fall into place, the message leads to action. In the case of public affairs, this action is the relationship with a reporter.
Military leaders use public affairs practices to keep mass media informed, and to persuade them to adopt certain attitudes that support the goals of those practices. (Baker, 1999) identifies a communication model that may be applied to developing this relationship. The model includes self-interest, entitlement, enlightened self-interest, and social responsibility. These provide a conceptual structure that can be applied to understanding civilian media and tailoring a program to developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

Each succeeding element of the model represents a moral "higher-ground" than the one preceding. The self-interest model recognizes that media outlets must "look out for number one." In news reporting, it can be reasoned that each media outlet seeks to offer the most informative and interesting stories. This fulfills self-interests because they are competing for their advertisers and audience. The more people watch, the more advertisers they can attract and the higher their profits.

The entitlement model is much like the self-interest model but also adds the assertion of legal rights (Nelson, 1994). In reporting on military issues, the media asserts their right to have access to bases and facilities. They also believe they represent the public's "right to know."

Raiborn and Payne (1996) combine the preceding models into the enlightened self-interest model. It is reasoned that by engaging in accurate reporting, media outlets will do well financially and the audience will benefit from factual reporting. This can also be defined by the total quality management theory in business management. Simply put, an informed and happy customer means higher profits.

The social responsibility model is separate and distinct from the previous models and results from different intentions and motivations for reporting. Social responsibility in the news media comes from a responsibility to the public over self-interest, profit, or ratings. It is demonstrated when rival media outlets combine resources, pool video, and even share information so important issues receive the widest exposure. "Social responsibility for the press includes a moral obligation to consider the overall needs of society, personal sacrifice for the benefit of others, and a stewardship toward humanity" (Lloyd, 1991).

By understanding and supporting these models when developing media relations programs, public affairs can take great strides towards gaining, and keeping, strong media ties. Added to the equation media relations, it is arguable that the more media outlets are supported in these ideals, the more likely they are to ensure the military's special interests are supported.

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Rationale (Research Questions)
Prior to engaging in the benchmarking portion of this study, it is important to understand what we mean when we seek to benchmark "success" as it applies to media relations. We must also develop a baseline from which the military stands on media relations. Our course is not to change media relations but benchmark or find "best practices." If we wished to overhaul media relations, we may choose to examine every area of media relations including all media desires and all corporate or private media relations techniques. For our study we have conducted a brief analysis of each service's media relations doctrine or guidance along with a review of current media relations techniques taught at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Maryland. The first question posed in our research is:
Question 1: What Is It That Military Public Affairs Think They Do, According To Doctrine?
After establishing military principles of media relations, it is important to ask what the other side believes to be true. In the interest of time, we have chosen to conduct a literature and current periodical and editorial review of media opinions on military's job of handling media relations and what it is they think we should do. The question posed as the second step of our project goes as follows:
Question 2: What Are The Media's Attitudes, Opinions, And Desires Of The Military?
The third and most significant portion of our study is to find out what kinds of practices do other successful organizations follow in their media relations campaigns. The subjectivity and lack of face validity of the term "successful" is obvious and the authors concede that fact. However, as this is an unscientific examination, we have made our best effort to select organizations based on their perceived success in their field of endeavor. The third question asked states:
Question 3: What Do Other Organizations And Corporations Do?
Finally, in the fourth question area, our team examines:
Question 4: How Can Findings From Q3 Help To Reduce The "Gulf Of Media Relations?"
Rationale for examining the theories in the literature review is to provide a baseline of understanding and use the theories to help better explain why practices uncovered in benchmarking could be useful. The following chart helps to identify where the theories can be applied usefully:

Theory Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Benchmarking X X
Int. Cult. X X X X
Int. Pers. X X X X
Org. Comm X X X X
Mass Comm. X X X X


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The benchmarking method was selected to answer the fundamental question of what types of practices do other organizations use with success. A success is defined as "a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result" (Webster, 1988, p.1136). The word "success" must be used carefully in this study because there are many different, individual perceptions regarding success. Thus prior to the examination, an important distinction was made. The "success" we intend to measure is based not from whether positive news stories result, or if the media really like us. The success lies in whether or not our media relations meets or exceeds the mission of providing accurate information with minimum delay in accordance with privacy and security of service members.

We selected organizations that fit into a variety of categories to lend validity to our study to truly reflect benchmarking in its purist form. Because of time constraints, this was done in lieu of conducting a scientific population sample, complete with surveys. The variety ensures that if we can't find "best practices" in the sense of the word, we will find more ideas and examine them for application. The organizations examined included: non-military government agencies, commercial for profit agencies, private organizations, and non-profit organizations.

The Actual Benchmarking Process
As stated in the literature review, the means we use to conduct benchmarking is a hybrid of various techniques that identifies which functions to benchmark. A series of steps is followed on the process of benchmarking. Our group has entitled our process as "The Media Relations Flux Capacitor Approach." The following steps were taken:
1) Identify and examine key media relations commonalities among services and find out what media relations doctrine is applied for DoD.
2) Identify and examine our requirements against media desires and expectations.
3) Develop a set of criteria in order to examine the non-military organizations and benchmark.
4) Examine a variety of organizations and find out what they do for media relations.
5) Compile the findings and evaluate their applicability.

The hybrid benchmarking process created by the group lies in that we have used a scientific model in a qualitative fashion. We have coded the functions of media relations based off an examination of both the military and media then used it to measure what other agencies do. The justification and validity of our results lies not in that we have produced a set of data that measures what we intended to measure, but that we measured the concepts unearthed in the examination against requirements and desires.

The first step in our hybrid process was to establish examination and dissection of media relations techniques through non-military organizations against three standard media relations pillars that we developed using brainstorming, pre-examination of materials and the "BDTN Flux Capacitor." The "BDTN Flux Capacitor" is a conceptual process of linking media relations elements that Brian Davidson, Dan Carlson , Tracey Goff and Neil Murphy invented. The name simply means the Brian, Dan, Tracey, Neil media relations concept fuser and condenser.
If we chose to review every technical area that exists within media relations throughout the companies we reviewed, it would prove time prohibitive. We would also have to examine practices that are used in non-military agencies we are not authorized to use. Therefore, we developed the conceptual diagrammatic process below:

Figure 1.A.Z

Once the concepts and information floating around regarding media relations was dissected, obvious patterns emerged and formed three main pillars of criteria used to examine the non-military organization's media relations practices. The criteria contain the elements which created the pillars. The Pillars are contained in the graphic that follows:

Figure 1.B.Z

The elements contained in the 3 pillars are listed below:
Cultivating Relationships
Providing Access
Understanding of honesty / integrity
Ensuring Competence
Airing grievances (Corrections of media / military vs. military /media)

Privacy and sensitive information
Explanation of purpose (mission)
Examination / Explanation of roles
Media events
Security / Accuracy / Propriety / Policies
Dissemination of information (News Releases)
On / Off Record
Print Interview
On-Camera Interview
Editorial boards
Press Briefings / News Conferences
Timing of releases
Coding of information (style and info in press releases)

Media Support (logistics / food / travel / clothing / shelter)
Press/Information packets
Providing the right medium (film / JPEG/ Audio / B-Roll)
Integration of media into events / Access to operations (embeds / pools etc.)

The Organizations reviewed
In the RQ3 section, no organizational names are used to protect proprietary concerns on the part of the organizations reviewed . Codes were assigned to identify organizations by their particular niche rather than by name, as many companies have expressed the desire to remain anonymous.
With this interest in mind, we have named the organizations by letters of the alphabet. For example, the major computer chip corporation is known as Company A. A brief description of the companies examined follows.
Company A is a large aluminum producer with global sales to large manufacturing corporations for final product manufacturing and sales.
Company B is a high volume global producer of embedded control applications in the consumer, automotive, office automation, communications, and industrial control market.
Company C is a supplier of military semiconductors. The company is a subsidiary of a larger semiconductor manufacturer.
Company D is a military weapons manufacturer. The company is a subsidiary of a large defense-manufacturing contractor.
Company E describes and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, toward a mission to conserve and wisely manage the nation's coastal and marine resources.
Company F is a world-wide corporation that found its roots in 1885 with the invention of a thermo-electric regulator. Today, this company does business in aerospace, electronics, home and building control, industrial control, polymers, and chemicals.
Company G is a nation-wide company and is the country's oldest and largest not-for-profit Healthcare Management Organization. It serves more than eight million people in nine states and provides an integrated healthcare delivery system to employees and their families of member businesses and corporations. Their services include a wide range of preventative health care and hospital, medical and pharmacy services.
Company H is one of the oldest and largest police departments in the nation and relies heavily on media relations in conveying their "community policing" efforts. These efforts rely on their messages reaching their intended audience in high crime areas. A healthy media relationship is a must for this organization and the media is highly regarded.

Finally, according to Cutlip (1971), "A specific program's effectiveness can be evaluated by measuring in terms of four dimensions. They are audience coverage, audience response, communications impact, and process of influence." In order for a program to produce results, it must reach the target audience. The nature of the audience response, positive or negative, will affect the program results. Communications impact must be evaluated for discernible and lasting effects. The process of influence, channels and mechanisms of persuasion, determines how effective the program will be to initiate the social processes necessary to influence the opinions and behavior of its target audience.
The most important factors in media relations programs that we used in examining the organizations are as follows:
-Free flow of honest information
-Top executives answering questions
-Competent public relations personnel
-Define what is news
-Prompt responses to the media
-Be clear and concise
-Share the bad news too
-" Increase personal contact

Likely items of media interest:
-Annual reports (earnings)
-Research and development breakthroughs
-Plant or office construction
-Change in leadership
-Labor negotiations
-Wage and benefits
-Financial outlook
-Contract awards and new business
-New product lines and new services
-Scholarships and aid to education
-Participation in community affairs
-Contribution to charities
-Speeches to business leaders
-New advertising campaign

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Projected Results
Benchmarking increases the likelihood of success, in that if it were not already successful, it would not have been singled out as a best practice. The significance of selecting multiple agencies, corporations, and companies also increases the likelihood that "the best" will emerge through comparison and contrast, which is qualitative in nature. There is also, however, no guarantee that it will work. If an agency chooses to use benchmarking to identify better or best practices, it should always evaluate its outcomes.
A standard evaluation system already being used within the military public affairs establishment is based on outputs, outgrowths, and outcomes. To establish a base line of what the military thinks it does in terms of media relations, it was necessary to examine each service and then consolidate thoughts to use and examine other agency media relations practices against our criteria of people, training, and equipment.

RQ1: What The Military Does In Media Relations
Below, the information gained in the study of military organizations is presented by each service and concludes with a summation of the DoD directive:

United States Army Media Relations
The U.S. Army Public Affairs Program fulfills the Army's obligation to keep the American people and the Army informed and helps to establish the conditions that lead to confidence in America's Army and its readiness to conduct operation in peacetime, conflict, and war. Every member of the Army team contributes to effective Public Affairs. The soldier is the most effective communicator of the Army story. The primary Public Affairs functional areas are command information, public information, and community relations.

Commanders maximize the opportunities that print media offer to increase confidence in and visibility for the Army. An advantage of print media is that readers can refer to articles in detail later. A drawback is the lack of immediate feedback.
Army commands compete with civilian organization for civilian broadcast coverage on other than breaking news. Internal radio and television assets can be used to ease the effort to conduct Public Affairs sessions.

Accredited news media representatives may visit those areas of an installation normally open to the public when the subject matter is of local interest or deals with news events that happen without prior planning or knowledge and the information is releasable. Coverage of subject having potential controversy or national level interest with is coordinated through channels to the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.

Commanders should host an annual media day to encourage area news media representatives to visit their installations to establish or renew contacts with news media representatives. Army personnel are encouraged to speak with the media factually, candidly, and fully about unclassified matters on which they have personal knowledge and expertise. Public release of information on injured or deceased personnel will be made as soon as possible, within Privacy Act constraints, after the local casualty assistance officer has confirmed official notification of next-of-kin. Use of the word "casualty" is discouraged.

Army recruiting receives more media coverage that any other branch of the military. The stories do not always reflect topics the Army would choose to cover. It is our role to provide media with story ideas that communicate messages that will shape the positive perception of the Army.

United States Air Force Media Relations
The purpose of the Air Force media relations program is to achieve and maintain public trust, support for mission requirements, and global influence and deterrence. A pro-active relationship between public affairs practitioners at all levels, from the smallest unit to the Secretary of the Air Force, can help overcome the challenge of balancing the public's "right to know" and safeguarding national security interests. It is day-to-day Public Affairs and media relations that prevents miscommunication and allows for accurate, timely information about military matters to reach the American public.

The objectives of Air Force media relations are to develop and maintain methods to reach target audiences with command messages, deploy time-sensitive information, convey Air Force core competencies, and target media strategies. The Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Director is the release authority for all media activities regarding issues that have national or international implications. All Air Force Public Affairs personnel must comply with the spirit and the letter of the "full disclosure/minimum delay" standards to ensure rapid, accurate, and continuous flow of information to the public. This delivery of information includes:
1. Presenting information professionally, simply, and honestly.
2. Accurate, prompt and factual release of information.
3. Confining information to the field of expertise of subject matter experts.
4. Avoiding the release of hypothetical and speculative information.
5. Reflecting Air Force Policy.

Air Force policy and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts require the prompt and accurate disclosure of information to the public, excluding lawful exemptions.
The release of information concerning operational subjects is done by the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs director only after coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Public Affairs director. This information includes, but is not limited to alert status, deployments, intelligence or reconnaissance activities, movement of units, personnel wounded in combat, casualties, and weapons systems.

The media is the primary communication channel to the public. Their need for rapid, accurate information requires immediate, fair response by Air force officials. Whenever possible, bona fide media representatives should be granted access to installations and market material. Bad news should never be concealed from the media and all information should be free from technical jargon and acronyms.

News releases and media conferences must include both print and broadcast media equally. These are the most common ways to deliver information to the media and pre-empt anticipated queries. Responses to media queries and requests for interviews should be handled in a timely and accurate manner.

United States Navy Media Relations
The Public Affairs Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps uses SECNAVINST 5720.44 to standardize rules throughout their respective services. Within this instruction, there are chapters and sub-chapters that detail interacting with media. The two basic tenets in dealing with the news media are that information be factual and that the media be treated fairly and equitably. Navy and Marine Corps command public affairs officers (PAO) are required to release adverse news candidly and rapidly, provide reporters all pertinent facts, and be available for questions.

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Affairs uses several mediums to disseminate information to the news media and the public. Among them are news releases, news advisories, news conferences, media availabilities, and media embarkations. News releases and news advisories are sent to media to give them information in advance of a situation that could attract attention both publicly and within the command. They can be viewed as an invitation for the media to cover something that is happening on the base or within the command. News conferences and media availabilities are opportunities for the media to have question and answer sessions with a military spokesperson or newsmaker. Conferences are used for when a command has something significant to announce that would be inadequately explained if disseminated by other means. Media availabilities put a Navy or Marine Corps newsmaker in direct contact with the media where a variety of topics can be covered and questions can be asked.
One of the most effective ways the Navy and Marine Corps interacts with the media is using embarkations on Navy vessels. These opportunities give media representatives the opportunity to see, hear, and feel the Navy and Marine Corps story using the words and actions of the Sailors and Marines. Media representatives who take part in an embarkation generally leave with a lasting impression after participating in the direct interaction with military members.

Each of the release forms has a purpose. Some of them are to inform the media and the public current situations or upcoming events that are available to the public. Others, such as the embarkations, are used to let the media and the public see the services in action.

The Navy Public Affairs Department strives to maintain positive media relations. Unless otherwise preempted, information is disseminated in a timely and accurate manner to those who request it. When responding to an inquiry from or issuing a statement to news media representatives, there are several steps taken before any information is released. The PAO first obtains information from a variety of sources, usually the unit or activity involved. Then an analysis of the information is done to ensure security and to put the information into terminology that is understandable to the audience. The PAO must then receive permission to release the information from the appropriate releasing authority.
The basic responsibility of Public Affairs is to communicate a message to an audience through a particular media. However, public affairs is more than writing a news release. It is communication that will actually achieve the desired level of awareness in the audience.

United States Marine Corps Media Relations
When the Marines established the Marine Corps Public Relations Division in 1941, a sign was placed on the desk of Colonel Robert Denig, the first director of Marine Corps public affairs. "If the public becomes apathetic about the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps will cease to exist" (HQMC, 1999, p.9). Since the development of Marine Corps public affairs, that quote reminds Marines about the value the media have in their existence and the critical nature of the relationship.
Marine doctrinal publications on general public affairs are provided by the Department of the Navy through Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Instructions. Instructions regarding rules and orders concerning the inner working of media relations practices are fairly standard. However, the Marine Corps produces its own campaign plan and media skills handbook, and it develops its own style of media relations along with the SECNAV instructions. Along with an examination of this book and the Secretary of the Navy Instructions, a reader can understand Marine Corps media relations better. Many people throughout the media and military cite the Marine Corps for being proficient in dealing with the media. From the examination, this may lie in many areas, but is more apparent in the way the Marine Corps conducts media escorts and training of the media.

The Media Skills Training Guide states, "the best approach is to be proactive and plan your approach to public communication actions as carefully as you would plan any military operation" (HQMC, 1997, p.5). Continuing on, the publication states that the media relations representative must take into account deadlines, time and space limitations and help inexperienced reporters. The publication also lists functions of media relations representatives that include: advising, researching, assisting, arranging for interviews and media, monitoring interviews, liaising, and providing after action reviews for the media and the command.

Colonel Fred Peck, former assistant director of Marine Corps public affairs, sums up how Marines often cultivate their relationship with the media.
We've tended to be very open in our dealings with the press. We basically say,
'Come on down.' Our best public relations is the naked event. Come and see us. Watch us perform. Hopefully, we will perform well, and (the media will) then tell the American public about it." (Shanahan, 1995, p. 3)

The Marines tend to take a democratic style of interacting with the media and generally listen to their concerns, as they understand that it is essential in a relationship. Finally, the Marines believe that a happy medium can be met with the media to ensure that the mission is achieved.
The future success of the Marine Corps depends on two factors: first, an efficient performance of all duties to which its officers and men may be assigned; second, promptly bringing this efficiency to the attention of the proper officials of the Government and the American people" (MDET, 2002, p. 2).

Consolidation of Service Media Relations priorities Under DoD
As evidenced, from the examination of the four services presented above, a variety of considerations enters into conducting a media relations program. The most comprehensive examination of media relations practices uncovers a variety of techniques and measures intended to ensure mission success. However, one particular directive illustrates many important tasks that tie all four service regulations and practices up nicely. DoD Directive 5122.5, published by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs includes a statement of DoD Principles for assisting news media entitled "The Nine Principles of Combat Coverage." The nine elements consistently set high expectations for providing the media with access to the battlefield and events and accurate information (see Appendix A).
Overall, the principles listed above, along with the elements presented on each service, provide a solid foundation to enable the examination of media desires and to benchmark the processes of other organizations in coordination with the criteria selected for examination of people, training and equipment.

RQ2: What Are The Media Attitudes, Opinions, And Desires Of The Military?
An important consideration in developing continuity in media relations is considering what the media expects and needs from military public affairs. Once those needs and expectations are understood they can be used to tailor a media relations plan for each type of outlet including national and local print, radio, and television news.

Based on a telephone interview with a highly respected journalist, Candace Kovner Bel Air, an Emmy award winning reporter, anchor, and executive producer with CNN, Newsweek, and Stations Radio Network, the examination of materials and articles is enriched. "Every reporter has an agenda, and public affairs professionals should too." According to Bel Air, for an effective media relationship, public affairs practitioners must understand what makes news and how to approach the media.
What makes news?

The media's expectations of public affairs regarding what makes news includes six elements that dictate what information is covered and what is not. In most cases, news encompasses multiple forms of each of these elements. The more elements a story includes, the more important the story.
1. Timeliness: Nothing beats breaking news. These stories command front page attention with newspapers and lead air time in radio and on television. It is also important to draw a distinction between hard news and feature news.
2. Proximity: Local media outlets are interested in local news or news with a local angle.
3. Conflict: Like it or not, conflict, especially when it involves military operations, makes interesting news.
4. Prominence: Even common events, if they involve a person of prominence or fame, are newsworthy. The military flies operations all over the world daily, but if a particular flight involves a well-known figure, the media will probably be interested.
5. Consequences: Any event that impacts others is worthy of news coverage. The more people who are potentially affected, the bigger the story.
6. Human interest: Reporters are interested in people. This is one of the strongest elements of news. Although a story may be about new equipment or weapons systems, playing-up personal elements may help get the desired coverage from the media.

Approaching the media
Once a media plan clearly defines what types of stories make news and may interest producers, reporters, and editors, best methods to get those stories to the media should be outlined.
1. Know the media: Each type of media has different requirements in presenting a story and deciding what is newsworthy. When a story warrants broad coverage, a press conference may be the best way to get the information to the widest possible audience.
2. Get to the point: Just like military public affairs professionals, reporters face deadlines and demands daily. Whether calling, faxing, or e-mailing responses to the media, give them the most important information right up front.
3. Be prepared, or be ready to run around: If a reporter is assigned to a specific story, the office releasing information may be asked to provide background information and arrange for interviews, photographs, and video footage. One of the most common mistakes made by many public affairs offices is to release important information in the form of a news release without having made arrangements for follow-up interviews, photographs, and video.

Choosing the right media
Understanding how to target news and information to the proper media outlet is crucial for any successful media relations plan. Although some "hard" news stories may appeal to all venues, how those stories are reported will vary. Some information should be addressed specifically to print, radio, or television news. Public affairs programs should understand and differentiate between each.
1. Print: What makes print media unique is its ability to provide in-depth commentary in news articles. Newspapers and magazines have a longer shelf life than other media, and can incorporate maps, charts, statistics, and graphics into a story.
2. Radio is generally not the first choice for covering military stories by base-level public affairs offices. However, when speed counts they do have the fastest capability to produce and air information. This is especially valuable when news impacts the safety of people in a community.
3. Television: Television's strength is its ability to blend a story and pictures to create compelling and visual impressions. Generally, this is the media to whom most public affairs offices tailor their media relations programs.

Final note; unintended consequences
Knowing from the onset of a story what outcome is expected from a reporter is no guarantee that the story will not take on a different form or cover other areas. Public affairs practitioners must remember that reporters often take advantage of other resources for information in addition to information provided from the military. Occasionally, a story may encompass a larger or smaller subject area than was originally intended. This is especially true when dealing with a controversial issue or a subject with national implications. Continuing to support media's requests for information helps ensure a balanced and accurate story.

Twentieth Century Fund Task Force Member, Richard Halloran, sums up many of the aforementioned points.
Military people really don't know much about the press and television. Few military officers have done the factual research needed to determine whether their scant experience with the press is typical or atypical; few have done the content analyses to see whether their impressions can withstand scrutiny; few have examined the First Amendment, the development of press and television, or the roles that gatherers of news have played in the military history of the U.S. (Naparstek, 1993, p. 5).

RQ3: What The Non-Military Organizations Are Doing.
The following observations were taken from the nine best organizations examined. In keeping with the explanation presented in the methods section, the organizations are assigned generic names.
Company A is a large aluminum producer with global sales to large manufacturing corporations for final product manufacturing and sales.
Company A utilizes communications with employees and the surrounding communities to create a value of their products to society. Company A works to create a positive image within the surrounding community focusing on financial impact, public policy, community involvement and environmental responsibility. The company believes that a clear, consistent strategic plan will result in contributions and commitment by employees, families, and external customers. Face-to-face communications with internal audience is essential to the success of institutional outputs that will be shared with the external audiences and community leaders. As part of the external audience communication strategy, the company targets local media, national trade and technical publications and organizations, and key visits and inquiries. The company maintains a positive presence with government and public policy boards but does not become involved in political action committees. Media relations are tied to public affairs, marketing, community relations and employee communications to create a valued communications strategic plan.
Company A utilizes a variety of meetings to communicate, face-to-face with employees. Additional communications include web-based information, cable television, newsletters, magazines and videos.
Training & Execution
External customers are targeted through local media stories, community involvement, environmental activism, participation in public policy and sponsorship of community activities.

Company B is a high volume global producer of embedded control applications in the consumer, automotive, office automation, communications, and industrial control market.
Company B seeks to build credibility for current and future products through direct communications with internal and external audiences and customers. The company utilizes press releases and conferences, tours and trade show demonstrations to communicate selected messages and cultivate relationships with potential customers.
Company B plans and conducts global conferences and media events for immediate coverage of product information. Traveling to major international locations provides maximum exposure. The company also targets trade publications for additional communication exposure.
Training & Execution
Public relations tactics are coordinated with production schedules so to reinforce customer satisfaction with product availability.

Company C is a supplier of military semiconductors. The company is a subsidiary of a larger semiconductor manufacturer.
Company C focuses on internal and external audiences support the company's communications and marketing strategies. The company's goal is to be viewed as the preferred supplier of military semiconductors. The company targets communication opportunities with trade publications, local and national media, and commercial communications.
Company C works with their marketing staff to create advanced technology information products that will support efforts to achieve communication outlets with publication editors.
Training & Execution
Company C schedules press releases and interviews that focus on advanced technology capabilities.

Company D is a military weapons manufacturer. The company is a subsidiary of a large defense-manufacturing contractor.
Company D seeks to support customer, media and public interest in their weapons production. The company has a communications strategy that incorporates media relations, community relations, and customer relations.
Company D implements their communications strategy through press releases, press conferences, community involvement and marketing.
Training & Education
The company specifically targets interest in still and video images of weapons product lines. The company maintains a digital web based media relations library that to provide rapid availability to media requests.

Company E describes and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, toward a mission to conserve and wisely manage the nation's coastal and marine resources.
Government officials and civic leaders are provided occasions to visit Company E. These visits provide them the opportunity to mingle informally with their constituents and receive hands-on education about Company E's operations. These visits reinforce the support of the officials for the programs Company E uses or could become involved.
Company E gives full cooperation to the media to generate positive publicity of events. Media access is provided to the event site, to company personnel and to government and private individuals involved in the ceremony. The media is provided an opportunity to educate the public through written and visual accounts of what is taking place and what is planned for the future.
Company E utilizes public ceremonies such commissioning ceremonies, public open houses, press conferences, and news releases as important tools to inform and educate the public, government officials and the media about the events.
Training & Execution
Company E recognizes that the primary goal of any public event is to generate positive publicity and to instill confidence in government officials, community leaders and the local public. Such activities provide Company E with an opportunity to give local decision makers and leaders active roles in marking the company's progress. These events also provide an excellent opportunity for education through first-person demonstrations provided by NWS managers and staff.
Through participation, Company E staff gain practical experience in the public relations end of jobs to which they may move in the future. They also have an opportunity to show their expertise in the operation of new equipment and the interpretation of new data.

Company F is a world-wide corporation that found its roots in 1885 with the invention of a thermo-electric regulator. Today, this company does business in aerospace, electronics, home and building control, industrial control, polymers, and chemicals.
This company relies on regional public affairs offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, and
the United States to tailor media relations to their specific region. These offices employ people who are specialists in each of corporation's unique industries to operationalize corporate policies based on the needs of the industry and region. Each of these people maintain short- and long-term plans that address issues including employment, production, research and development, environmental, health, and education. These media relations plans are submitted to corporate public affairs managers who combine, budget for, and approve proposals based on the local, regional, national, and international impact of each unique issue.
This company communicates with employees and other interested people and organizations through a weekly company newsletter that is produced at corporate headquarters with overall company information and then passed to regional offices where regional-specific information is included before distribution. Newsletters are available in both printed and intranet versions. This newsletter forms the cornerstone of media relations and accompanies all press packs, news releases, and media advisories.
Training and Execution
Corporate policy requires all employees through division manager level to be trained in media, crisis, and public communication. This annual training includes interview techniques, public speaking, local government, and crisis prevention. Although the regional public affairs offices are responsible for planning and implementation of all programs, the division managers are required by policy to keep their public affairs representatives informed of all division operations.

Company G is a nation-wide company and is the country's oldest and largest not-for-profit Healthcare Management Organization. It serves more than eight million people in nine states and provides an integrated healthcare delivery system to employees and their families of member businesses and corporations. Their services include a wide range of preventative health care and hospital, medical and pharmacy services.
This company relies on eight regional public affairs offices within the United States to deliver area specific and client specific internal and external programs. Their public and media relations doctrine stems from the needs of their members and a social obligation to provide benefit for the communities in which they operate and the health care industry.
This company's primary media relation's tool is their active involvement in national, state, and local political organizations that advocate accessible, quality medical programs.
Training and Execution
Company and federal policy requires all public and media communication programs to be based on present laws of full disclosure regarding the principles, structure, and operations of healthcare programs.

Company H is one of the oldest and largest police departments in the nation and relies heavily on media relations in conveying their "community policing" efforts. These efforts rely on their messages reaching their intended audience in high crime areas. A healthy media relationship is a must for this organization.
This organization maintains a 24-hour media relations center designed to provide media with accurate and timely information 24 hours-a-day. Individuals are required to meet with the media and receive extensive training in department policies regarding release of information. Media are routinely educated on the legal aspects involving release of information as it pertains to legal rights, rights of victims and minors and in jeopardizing investigations. An extreme emphasis is placed on ensuring that media are never denied the right to report on whatever they see at crime scenes and accidents etc.
The majority of information provided to the media is in standardized format and released from a central issuing point.
Training and execution
All officers receive yearly training in media relations and are provided with a comprehensive rules and procedures packet so that they fully understand all regulations regarding media. Since officers routinely interact with media, and both parties understand the nuances of accomplishing their mission, a mutual respect is gained.


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The value in this study lies in the fact that media relations is neither a science nor an art. The mere concept that relations occur between organizations that are managed by people, significantly contributes to the inability to accurately measure quantitatively and make it a science. The media relations phenomena is both objective and subjective, which creates intersubjectivity.

The press and the armed forces are two completely different cultures. Our examination of intercultural communication finds that. The military breeds conformity, authority, discipline, group loyalty, and cohesion. The press is generally prides themselves as individualistic, independent, competitive, and suspicious of authority. Because the military is an extremely hierarchical institution, its functions differ greatly from what many media representatives are accustomed. Better understanding and handling of these differences can improve the relationship.

Good science is good art you say? If we wanted to apply science to improving our media relations in a systematic fashion, we run the risk of engaging in cultivating propaganda. A "laws" approach would tell us that systematic research of this nature may mirror that of studies conducted on propaganda by Hovland, Janis and Kelley in 1935. In the studies, Hovland and his associates examined the source, message, channel, and receiver and how they could leverage the influence to increase its significance in persuasion (Infante et al, 1997, p.73).

Therefore, the conscious decision not to use a scientific method was made in our research since it could impact credibility that is essential in a personal relationship akin to the relationship we share with the media.

Trust requires both members of a relationship to be trusting and trustworthy. By trusting, people admit that they are dependent on another and that they believe the partner will not exploit them or take advantages of their trust" (Infante et al, p. 284). In maintaining this trust, we examine best practices in improving the effectiveness and productiveness of the relationship and not using science to influence media.

A commonality between media relations used by some of the non-military organizations and military media relations is the use of news releases and press kits to inform and educate the media about upcoming events. When Company E has an event that warrants media coverage, they send out press information several weeks prior to the event. When military installations have a scheduled event, news releases and press kit are sent far enough in advance of the event to determine which media outlets will attend.

Differences between the organizations and the military include the escorting of media to the event and the type of access given to the media. When Companies invite the media to cover an event, it appears that they arrive at their own discretion. However, unlike many companies, the military contacts media outlets a few days prior to the event to set up the meeting location and time, thus allowing the military to escort the media to the event in an orderly manner.

At commercial events, the media receives full access to the event, personnel, and government and civil leaders that attend. In general, the military monitors the media, keeping them centrally located during many events, which may increase distrust and uncertainty by the media. The media is not usually given the opportunity to question all military personnel, and questioning of government and civilian leaders may sometimes take the form of a media availability.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, military installations more readily allowed media to cover ceremonies, groundbreakings, and other base events. Since then, DoD has imposed stringent security restrictions on military installations. These restrictions are designed to safeguard personnel, equipment, and items pertaining to national security that are located on the installation. However, this also decreases the likelihood of meeting the public affairs mission.

Both national and international companies seem to share common principles that form the cornerstone of their media relations plans. The first of these principles recognizes the media's ability to influence the public. Focusing on both long- and short-term communication, corporate public affairs practitioners strive to offer media representatives insight regarding the positive impact of that company's operations on the public and community. Doctrinally, the military does not have this luxury.
This ideal stems from the learning theory in communication where messages and message reinforcement provide the intended recipient in-depth and working knowledge of a specific idea. By developing this relationship with reporters, it is believed that the coverage and impact of potential negative stories is lessened because media representatives already have a working knowledge of a company's policies, doctrine, and concern for the public. In addition, this helps public affairs representatives build a reputation of honesty and openness. Military public affairs practitioners may use some of the techniques used in the civilian market to help educated and gain the confidence of local media. However, in a deployed situation, where reporters arrive from all over the world, there is little time to develop comprehensive relations.

This principal is addressed in general military public affairs regulations and guidance in the form of programs that are designed to immerse members of the media into the military mindset. These programs are events such as embarkations, incentive flights, facility tours, and honorary memberships into military units. The military has made strides in improving this relationship and may explore further measures to educate the media and gain a better working experience. One item that the military generally ignores is visiting publishers and other media outlets to gain a better understanding of their practices. This may also be applied.

Another principal common to media relations within the civilian public affairs realm is the belief that the media, and ultimately the public, have a "right to know" information regarding the impact of a company on local, state, national and international levels. Drawing from the communication model of self-interest, entitlement, enlightened self-interest, and social responsibility, this public affairs principal appeals to the media's obligation to keep the public informed. Military media relations doctrine of "maximum exposure with minimum delay" can be tied to this theory, but can fall short of fulfilling the media's expectations due to operational security demands.

The Department of Defense has doctrine to dictate much how media relations are performed within the services. With this, the ultimate audience is the citizens of the United States. They pay taxes to maintain a military to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
In contrast, corporations also have internal plans to control how media relations are performed within the company. Their ultimate audience is the workers and investors who support the day-to-day operations that allow the corporation to exist. These differences are most noted in application of media messages.

Corporation's strategic communication plans emphasize the need to change public opinion to invest in and support their operations. Their plans also include an inoculation effect by establishing and maintaining a strong community influence. Conversely, DoD organizations are not in the business to change public opinion. DoD media messages are designed to simply provide maximum accurate information in a timely manner; maximum disclosure with minimum delay.

The press and the military have played vital roles in American democracy since the founding of the nation. A dysfunctional relationship between these two Constitutional entities is advantageous for neither themselves, nor the public that they are supposed to serve.

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