Visit to Britain’s Ministry of Defence Part II

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Welcome back to the curious story of the MOD’s Comms department!

Continued from Part I.

As we finally got to talking Communication, we were introduced to the MOD’s social media strategy, which turned out to be quite extensive with a maintained presence on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Blogs. Here, we were reminded of the importance of content – something that has already been said to us during classes. The MOD has a specialised branch that deals with photography and when you give a photographer a full-time job to take pictures of military life, you apparently create an endless source of branded content that fuels your Facebook Timeline and Flickr accounts. And when that fuel supplies national pride and army recruits, you know that your Comms department is doing its job well. Definitely something to think about for any organisation trying to establish effective communications.

As time went by, I realised that these people were too humble to admit how good they truly were. I started noticing patterns in their communication strategy that they wouldn’t necessarily say were there – behind their social media activity, I saw a clear effort for Brand Management, Content Creation and Content Curation. Of course, they also talked about engagement and how great content is the one supreme prerequisite for that, but they never clearly articulated that they indeed try to segment their target audience when exercising “Personnel Support” (a form of internal communications in the army). Of course, they mentioned Public Relations and Crisis Management, but they never named celebrity endorsement when they talked to us about Prince William’s pictures behind the controls of an RAF helicopter. The list of things the MOD was involved in – stated or not – went on and on in my notepad – Recruitment Marketing, Traditional Media, Reputation Management, Merchandising, Employee Blogs, Viral Videos, even Crossmedia – these people were real professionals, and the Communication nerd in me was getting overly excited at how dedicated and good they were. They had thought everything through – use Twitter to inform, Facebook to engage, Pinterest and Storify to integrate, blogs to enrich, YouTube and traditional media to reach – it was all just too good to be true.

And then…

I raised my hand and tried to congratulate them by veiling my excitement with a question about intent and direction in their communication efforts and strategic thinking.

In an anti-climax fashion, I was met with a lengthy answer about the MOD’s dealings with the media and an example of that by their PR chief.

I guess he forgot that we were PR students ourselves, but then again… Once a PR, always a PR.

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