In order to foster a safe environment for the Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Iraq, the group relied on public affairs specialists to spread awareness and information to the local community and U.S. public.
Public affairs on the ground in Iraq may seem a world away from the kind of work done by most stateside practitioners. In fact, there are some lessons that overlap, says Scott Harris, public affairs specialist for military and international programs in Washington, D.C. They include:
• Leverage success: The Army Corps touted its new schools and its vital sewer projects. If you or your client have reached a milestone or accomplished something big, let people know.
• Get live feedback: The Corps public affairs team pursued feedback the hard way: speaking directly to the people about their perceptions, despite the inherent dangers of mingling with the public. Go beyond clip counts and online polls to measure success.
• Go local: As outsiders in Iraq, the Corps relied on locals for their knowledge. Iraqis could identify potential audiences and alert them to local media trends. The same holds here, where the U.S. isn’t one big city or suburb. Seek out local or regional knowledge to guide your efforts.
• Get visual: The Corps devised a bold, simple logo as a way to keep its convoys safe. Don’t forget the power of a picture—it can tell a story more efficiently and effectively.