Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘CENTCOM’ Category

It looks like the second unified command has jumped head-first into the blogosphere.

I am not the only one who received the e-mail from United States Joint Forces Command (you can read about their outreach here and here), but it is nice to see another major DoD command reaching out to bloggers to help tell their story.

Good work.

If they are really smart, they will dedicate resources to try what CENTCOM is doing on YouTube. Granted, this requires people, time and money, but it should be easily achievable with one or two more broadcasters assigned to JFCOM.

Read Full Post »

Campbell-Ewald, I’ve already told you that your YouTube efforts were lame. You knew that before I said anything because people all over the popular video-sharing site were blasting your efforts.

My advice? Take a lesson from some enterprising PAOs at U.S. Central Command.

The enlisted Soldiers who have worked on the online engagement team have been universally impressive. One of the Soldiers, Spc. Miller, produced this video:

And this video:

Here is what is good about these videos:

  • They are fun
  • They tell the military story
  • They show an understanding of YouTube and the audience the site reaches
  • They have content that will be watched

But there are a few things to watch out for:

  • The music is concerning. I love that music was included, but if it has copyright, this use would be unauthorized. Best to get permission for use of the music or purchase an alternative song at a site that allows its purchases to be broadcast (such as at the Pod Safe Music Network)
  • Don’t forget messaging. It is as simple as integrating some text into the visuals
  • The effects are cool, but a bit much. At times, I felt like I was about to have a seizure.

Still, these are an overall great effort. Thanks to Spc. Miller for producing these and Spc. Erickson for tipping me off to this.

And to their bosses at CENTCOM, someone needs to promote these two. The Army could use two NCOs with their ability.

Read Full Post »

From Sunday’s paper:

It begins almost imperceptibly, one lonely posting on a blog. It says that U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan use candy to lure children so they can be used as human shields.

Patently untrue.

But in an age when the lines between traditional media and the blogosphere are blurred, a dark rumor can spread like a kindergarten virus, unchecked and unchallenged.

U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa is taking notice.

Since 2005, CentCom officials have jumped into the blogging fray, facing the realities of a new electronic age in hopes of combating misinformation on the Web, or just getting its own news out.

A three-person team monitors blogs – Internet journals with commentary from ordinary citizens and, often, links to news articles – that concentrate on CentCom’s area of responsibility, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan.

Team members contact blogs when inaccuracies or incomplete information is posted. They also ask bloggers if they can post a link to CentCom’s Web site, or they offer access to CentCom information and news releases.

Read the full article.

Read Full Post »

In the world of communication, there are times where less is more.

This instance is one of them.

In the past, I have come down on the Navy and the Marines for not using RSS to syndicate their news content, while applauding the Army and Air Force for their efforts.

Sorry guys, but today I have a beef with the Air Force.

For the past few months I have been subscribed to the Air Force’s RSS feed.

In the past week, there were 94 different news items that they sent across their feed. 94 different items.

And the problem is that a lot of this is stuff just doesn’t interest me. Like their perpetual sports reports from the Air Force Academy. Their CENTAF reports would have potential if they weren’t so boring. And some of their news stories are just plain outdated (such as this news story on an Airman who attended the State of the Union, which was published four days after the President’s speech).

I know some of the Air Force News folks, and they are all great. But seriously, I’m going batty with this deluge. I’m afraid my RSS reader will explode.

To the http://www.af.mil Web team, would you please consider segmenting your RSS feeds? You might not realize this, but you can have more than one. Think of how much more effective you will be in reaching your audience anyhow if they can subscribe to the news that they want to get.

Compare the Air Force approach to that of U.S. Central Command. In the past week, I have counted 16 news items that have posted to their Web site. I think this is a great number; it gives a continuous flow of information without overwhelming readers. Furthermore, CENTCOM several different RSS feeds that can be subscribed to —

In part two, I will take a further look at CENTCOM’s efforts — the highs and the lows — in their efforts to leverage positive military stories in the Middle East.

Read Full Post »

Ok, so I lied when I told you I wouldn’t be writing about Patterico again.

But this time, it is good news for CENTCOM.

Patterico updated with a message from the CENTCOM Electronic Media Engagement Team.

Sir,

I understand you ran into a bit of difficulty with our press desk last week.

I hope we can consider that water under the bridge and as you say, it is an isolated incident. I would like to invite you to join our mailing list and get in the loop with the CENTCOM Blog Team.

CENTCOM does indeed recognize the importance and value of blogs especially when it comes to getting out positive news in what seems to be an overwhelming sea of negative coverage of events in Iraq and the Global War on Terror in general.

U.S. Central Command Public Affairs has a team of three individuals, an officer and two enlisted, whose main responsibilities are to reach out to those of you who operate blogs that discuss and write about matters in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

I do wish the events that lead to this would have been handled differently, your request should have been routed to us but, what is done is done. I can say that the event did generate a memo from the Deputy Director,

“We treat bloggers as we do “traditional media’ in all respects.

If you interact with bloggers please direct them to the appropriate staff section as you would traditional media.”

For future reference, please directly media inquires to the blog team,

Capt. Anthony Deiss deisaa@centcom.mil
Spc. Patrick Ziegler zieglepa@centcom.mil
Spc. Chris Erickson erickscj@centcom.mil
electronicmedia@centcom.mil

V/R
Spc. Patrick A. Ziegler
U.S. Central Command
Public Affairs

Awesome. This is the way you do business.

On top of that, Spc. Erickson (who I called out earlier for sending a spammy e-mail pitch) sent me a follow-up e-mail. I haven’t gotten back to him yet, but I will. Still, needless to say, I was very impressed.

I knew I would be. I think one of the really cool things about the blogger engagement team is that it is composed of one officer and two enlisted Soldiers. That is one of the things I loved about the Army while I was working at DA — the level of confidence and trust they put in their NCOs and Soldiers. (And as a junior civilian, I appreciated getting similarly endowed with a level of trust in my expertise).

I think situations like these prove one thing — there are no “experts” when it comes to new media engagement. There are only people who have been doing it longer.

We are all learning how to deal with new media. Even those actively engaged in the blogosphere.

Good to see that CENTCOM is part of that learning. Keep it up.

Read Full Post »

So last time I posted, I talked about U.S. Central Command’s not-so-good news story with Patterico. For the second time, I am disappointed in CENTCOM.

Jake Jacobsen from the Freedom Folks blog posted this comment to Patterico:

This is odd. Last week I received this email…

Subject: U.S. Central Command
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 09:39:20 -0500
From: “Erickson, Christopher J. SPC USA” Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
To: jake.jacobsen@sbcglobal.net

Greetings!

I came across your blog today and did some reading. Your interest in Iraq caught my eye.

Our team is part of Central Command Public Affairs and has been reaching out to many of you in the electronic media world. As military PA reps our duty is to inform the U.S. public of what we’re doing militarily. As the public turns to the Internet and the blogosphere as a news source, we have to do our best to find ways of getting information to the public via these avenues.

With that said, would you like to be on our mailing list? We send out via email press releases and news stories. Many times we can get this information out to the blogs before it becomes available via the main stream media outlets. We also have two newsletters, CENTCOM News and the Coalition Bulletin, that tell more of what our forces are doing.

Also, if you feel it would be appropriate, we are always looking to get links to our web site on blogs that are read by people who might be interested in our site. If that would be a good fit for your blog then we would love to have a link.

Thank you for your time today and I hope to hear back from you.

V/R

Spc. Chris Erickson
Electronic Media Engagement Team
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs
erickscj@centcom.mil
http://www.centcom.mil/

Talk about mixed messages.

I thought that I had read something like that before. It turns out that I did, on my own blog:

Greetings!

I came across your blog today and did some reading. Your posts concerning Iraq caught my eye.

Our team is part of Central Command Public Affairs and has been reaching out to many of you in the electronic media world. As military PA reps our duty is to inform the U.S. public of what we’re doing militarily. As the public turns to the Internet and the blogosphere as a news source, we have to do our best to find ways of getting information to the public via these avenues.

With that said, would you like to be on our mailing list? We send out via email press releases and news stories. Many times we can get this information out to the blogs before it becomes available via the main stream media outlets. We also have two newsletters, CENTCOM News and the Coalition Bulletin, that tell more of what our forces are doing.

Also, if you feel it appropriate, we’re always looking to get links to our web site on blogs that are read by people who might be interested in our site. If that would be a good fit for your blog then we would love to have a link.

Thanks for your time today and I hope to hear back from you.

Anyone heard of spam before?

So CENTCOM, I know you are working hard. I have said time and time again that you are trying to do the right thing. But the online world does not operate in the same way that traditional media does. You can’t blast a press release (or a canned pitch message) to every blogger out there and call it “blogger engagement.”

The blogosphere is about relationships and conversation. And canned messages a conversation does not make.

So SPC Erickson, I’m going to give you a second try. Check out my e-mail above and send me your own pitch. You know I am interested in CENTCOM and want to talk to you — but I also want to help you guys engage the blogosphere in the most effective way possible.

CENTOM, that is two strikes. Please don’t disappoint me again.

 

Read Full Post »

Those who have read my old blog know that I am a big fan of CENTCOM and their blogger engagement team. I think that they are way ahead of most of the military in terms of adoption of new media techniques.

They have some people coming to their side, but it appears that someone at U.S. Central Command fell asleep at the wheel.

Big time.

If you are going to piss off a blogger, you don’t want to piss off one of the most influential in the blogosphere — Patterico. Here is his story:

I spent much of the weekend chasing down a story about the L.A. Times’s misreporting of an incident in Iraq. As part of my investigation, I corresponded with the press folks at CENTCOM. We ended up exchanging a few e-mails, as I tried to obtain a clear and unambiguous statement that I could use. (You’ll likely be reading more about this in the next 2-3 days.)

The final e-mail I received began this way:

Sir –

Thank you for your support for the troops; we appreciate your attempts to set the record straight on your blog; which by the way is very impressive and does have quite a following. However, this forum is reserved for credentialed media outlets. If we stop to answer every blogger in world who has a question we will be inundated. Our first priority is getting the credentialed media the correct information as quickly as possible so that they can present a balanced story. That in itself is quite a challenge, as you can imagine, in the fog of war and with intricacies of this mission. I hope that you will not take offense and understand, but please refrain from contacting the Press Desk unless you can provide media credentials.

Translation: “Let me say this politely. You are just a blogger and we have real media to deal with.”

I’m not a prima donna who thinks that the military should have to respond to my beck and call. I was actually rather sheepish about contacting these folks in the first place, and continually apologized for taking up their time when I sent follow-up e-mails. I understand that the press officers have limited resources, and can’t respond to every blogger in the world. I have no beef with this particular press officer, and I understand the limitations she is operating under.

However, I find it ironic that, in the very next line of the e-mail, the press officer confirmed that the L.A. Times had misreported a significant detail about the incident in Iraq. Namely, the L.A. Times had reported an airstrike when, according to the military, none had occurred. (More about the significance of this in coming days.) What’s more, the L.A. Times still has not reported the military’s denial.

Ouch.

It bugs me because I have met some of the officers who are working at CENTCOM on blogger engagement. They want to be doing the right thing. They understand the techtonic shifts that are taking place and rippling throughout the media as we know it. So it bothers me when the CENTCOM experiment — a huge step forward — ends up taking two steps backward.

I think back to an exercise I conducted while I was a student at the Defense Information School (DINFOS). We were given a list of 50 different media outlets that had requested to ride along for a day with our commander. We only had room for six outlets, and we had to decide who got to come.

I wonder: if Patterico and the Northbrook Star were vying for the last seat on the ride along — would it go to the small weekly newspaper over the popular, nationally read blog simply because the newspaper is credentialed?

Some stuff to chew on.

If you want more to think about, check out the comments to Patterico’s post. One of the comments sparked my interest (and inspired Tsk Tsk, CENTCOM (Part Two), my next post).

Read Full Post »