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Archive for December, 2006

Navy, meet RSS

Dear Navy,

I just got through telling the Marine Corps that there is no reason that they shouldn’t have their news feeds available via RSS.

Apparently, you need this advice to.

I would love to subscribe and automatically get Navy news sent to my RSS reader — it is such an easy way for you to distribute your message. But when I went to your Web site, I was unable to sign up for your feed because you don’t have one.

I don’t understand. The Army is doing it. So is the Air Force. NAVCENT, a Navy component command, even sends their news out via RSS. Why doesn’t “big Navy”?

Using RSS is a simple, inexpensive and effective way to help you get our your story.

Have a Happy New Year,

Steve

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Marine Corps, meet RSS

Dear Marines,

The marketing of the USMC is the envy of the other services. Marines are seen as the most elite, most intense, most hard-line warriors around.

The kind of men and women who scare the pants off of the enemy.

So for an organization with such great branding, such great message discipline, such great communication, I wonder why you don’t offer your news on your Web site via RSS. The Army does.

If there are people out there who want you to send them your message for free, why don’t you?

Look forward to hearing back from you.

Happy New Year,

Steve

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From Army.mil:

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 29, 2006) – Nearly 4,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members are gearing up to support the national farewell to former President Gerald R. Ford that will span a seven-day period with events in California, Maryland, the nation’s capital and Michigan.

“This is DoD’s way of showing respect and honor to a former commander in chief and president, so it’s very important to us,” said Army Col. Jim Yonts, public affairs officer for the Military District of Washington.

Read the full article here.

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Stumbling through writers block

Do you ever have that feeling that you want to write, but can’t seem to find something to blog about?

I’ve been feeling that way for the past few days.

So I decided to provide a tip for bloggers who don’t know what to write about: Stumble Upon.

Stumble Upon is a great addition to the social bookmarking world — in my humble opinion better and more addictive than digg. Stumble Upon allows stumblers to find random Web sites, tagged by other stumblers, in the topic areas that they are interested in.

Bonus for milbloggers — there is a stumbling category totally dedicated to military Web sites.

I’d check it out. If nothing else, its a great way to find new information (and waste a bit of time).

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Five things about me meme

I got tagged with the “five things about me” meme by my friend Alice Marshall at Presto Vivace. So without further ado, here are five things you might not know about me:

I owned a pet chinchilla while growing up. My parents wouldn’t let me have the dog that I wanted because my dad was allergic.

I was kissed by a former Miss America.

I was the musical director for the men’s a cappella group at my university. But don’t ask me to sing in public (unless you are willing to allow me to embarrass you with a serenade).

I don’t eat ketchup and tomatoes, but I love tomato sauce.

I once at Chipotle 5 times in one week. And I loved every burrito I had.

I was tagged by a PR blogger, so in an effort to be a bit of a connector, I am tagging people who don’t blog about public relations — so among milbloggers, i’m passing this to Signaleer and LTC Patrick, and outside of the military blogosphere, this is going to Jeff at Shape of Days, Tom at Adventures in Troubleshooting, and Joe at Marmaduke Explained (which you need to read because it is hilarious.)

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NAVCENT is rocking new media

I have mentioned in the past that United States Central Command (the military component that oversees combat operations in the Middle East) is quite progressive when it comes to new media. It is a joint command, and each service underneath CENTCOM has their own component command.

I am really impressed with the Navy component that falls under CENTCOM, known as NAVCENT. Despite having less money and fewer resources than their parent command, they too have been incredibly forward in adopting new media.

I just received an announcement that they have a new podcast highlighting Sailors serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. And this podcast is actually a podcast. While other services have offered audio content for download, you can’t really call it a podcast unless you offer it through RSS syndication, which NAVCENT is doing.

On top of this, the announcement was done in a transitional version of the first ever “social media press release” distributed by a military organization.

For readers outside the PR community, the SMPR is a concept that is being discussed among professional communicators to make the tired old version of the press release more user-friendly for bloggers, journalists and other writers in a social media world. While the Navy’s version doesn’t look much like SHIFT’s version (I believe that SHIFT’s Todd Defren was the first to take a stab at the SMPR), and it doesn’t have the hosting/conversation qualities of StoryCrafter, which was announced by my company this month, it is an impressive and progressive attempt to recognize the increasing importance of new media. The current NAVCENT version is Digg and del.icio.us friendly, has technorati tags, and includes embedded links in the release.

While it is not a perfect version (I think everyone in the public affairs world is still trying to get their arms around this issue), I think this is an incredible first step. Although I need to ask — why did you put this out the day before Christmas?

I would love to hear what Shel and Neville have to say about this, as well as Todd and Phil.

To LCDR Brown and LT Trammell, my hat is off to you. Your work indicates that NAVCENT is ahead of its peers.

Come on Army. You are letting me down. You need to catch up to these guys.

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This Christmas eve, NORAD, or the North American Air Defense Command, is getting in on the fun — online.

By visiting the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, you can follow the Santa’s path as he makes his way around the globe, brining Christmas cheer to children in China, India, Germany, New Zealand, the United States and more.

So why is an American military command tracking St. Nick? Well, from their Web site:

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special “hotline” included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first “Santa” call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa’s position. Thus, the tradition was born.

Over time, the NORAD Tracks Santa project has grown, and today, you can find online video of Santa’s trip around the globe, as well as real-time updates of Kris Kringle’s location.

They have even gotten into the social media space and loaded video on YouTube.

Indeed, this project has built quite a bit of buzz online:
Technorati Chart

So to everyone who is young (or young at heart), Merry Christmas, and enjoy tracking Santa with NORAD!

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From David Ignatius at the Washington Post:

Thanks to a military blogger who calls himself “Blackfive” (“The Paratrooper of Love”), we have a snapshot of what Christmas looks like this year at Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad. It’s a man dressed up in a Santa Claus suit, standing behind a “sleigh” that is actually an unmanned aerial vehicle and six soldiers who are wearing antlers and perched precariously on the launch ramp.

Or we can read this Christmas message posted Dec. 21 from “Lt. Col. Patrick,” an Air Force C-130 pilot. Next to a picture, taken at his base, of a Christmas tree decorated with festive lights, he writes: “Holiday deployments are difficult but the one characteristic that comes from being away from home at this time of year is that everyone else misses home too. You don’t hear people actually complain about missing Christmas at home I think because we’re all in it together.” Misery may love company, but in the military, it keeps its mouth shut.

This holiday season, America is struggling through a searing national debate about Iraq. The horror of the war feels immediate, even to people who’ve never been near Baghdad, but less so the humanity of the thousands of American soldiers who are serving there. That’s part of the Iraq disconnect: The war dominates our political life, but the men and women in the midst of it often are nearly invisible. We see them in thumbnail photos in group obituaries but not as real, living people.

If you read soldiers’ blogs, and I’ve looked at several dozen over the past few days, you see a recurring anger that the media aren’t telling their story. So I’ll let a few of the military bloggers speak for themselves. If you want to share in the conversation, a good place to start is http://milblogging.com, which collects blogs from soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

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Merry Christmas

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You can ignore this

I am just claiming my blog over at the milblogging.com community.

View My Milblogging.com Profile

Though if you haven’t been to milblogging.com yet, don’t ignore this. Go there and check it out.

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