Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 29

COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES to topic over time. As media evolve, communication routes should evolve via traditional and social media. Recommendation 5. Integrate traditional and social media strategies, varying the efforts devoted to each according to a strategic time line. Leaders can blend traditional and social media when they are trying to introduce significant change to their organizations, such as a change in combat brigade tactics or a new practice involving battlefield artillery systems. Such change is challenging, but it has to be done from time to time. Figure 7 illustrates a way to blend official messages via traditional media and supporting messages by way of social media. A communication strategy might vary the amount of effort devoted to traditional, top-down media messages and to social media messages according to five hypothetical time segments. A key guideline is this: first, use traditional media to establish a clear message; later, use social media to explain and support traditional media message. If the intended audience is young, make use of “their” social media as applicable. At Time 1, emphasize traditional, top-down media for official messages about changes in combat brigade tactics or battlefield artillery practices, but with some emphasis on social media and personal contact. Social media tend to be more persuasive than are traditional media because they are perceived to be less shaped by censoring authority. Additionally, individuals communicating online and in person appear to be the most persuasive of all. At Time 2, devote more effort to engaging audiences in discussions via social media or in person, while making the traditional media emphasis more moderate. From Time 3 through Time 4, reduce both traditional and social media messages as individuals or units absorb the changes. Investigate appropriately to make sure the changes are made. At Time 5, all communications on these topics might end. If the communication strategy successfully brings about changes in understanding and behavior related to the combat brigade tactics or battlefield artillery systems, perhaps leaders could turn to new communication challenges. Maybe leaders need to maintain a low level of attention for a while. Monitoring communications is, as we know, a command responsibility. Summary Traditional media are not dead, but their declining use by younger audiences suggests that military leaders need to adapt their methods to reach their internal and external audiences in strategic ways, as do other organizations that serve society. To such an end, it may be prudent to tap younger members of the military who are in a position to provide real insights to more experienced leadership on how best to communicate in an age increasingly influenced by social media so they can remain flexible in their information strategies. In this area, leaders need to learn from others all the time, just as did the best kings in ancient times. The most effective leaders still do. Col. Donald L. Shaw, U.S. Army, retired, is Kenan Professor Emeritus in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his PhD in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is credited, along with colleague Maxwell McCombs of the University of Texas at Austin, with developing agenda-setting theory. Shaw is the author of numerous journal articles and books. Thomas C. Terry is professor of journalism at Utah State University, Logan. He spent a year on a Department of Defense intelligence community post-doctoral grant studying the emerging horizontal media world. Terry owned and edited a small group of newspapers in Illinois. He is a past president of the Illinois Press Association and the author of numerous scholarly publications. Milad Minooie is a doctoral student in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his master’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013. He spent five years as a political journalist and editor in Iran. He is the co-author, with Donald Shaw, of several scholarly papers. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 27