Army works to get the word out on tech initiatives

Strategic communications uses an array of techniques to get important messages out

The transition from a number of proprietary e-mail systems used by different military groups to a single enterprise is a huge shift, so it’s no surprise that the changeover suffered a few glitches.

When a strategic pause halted the rollout, technologists turned to the army’s strategic communications specialists.

“Whenever there’s a change in the expectations, it’s important to let folks know what’s going to be done and why,” said Stephen Bullock, strategic communications officer for the 7th Signal Command.

The technologists who handle the e-mail system had neither the time nor the skills to address the questions from users who found that the new technology was far slower than acceptable levels. When the IT staff turned to the strategic communications staff, they got help right from the top.

Brig. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, also with the 7th Signal Command, made a video that explained some of what happened and how the solutions were progressing.

That video, released Aug. 19, explained that the strategic pause would end on or around Sept. 1. He also assured users that the shift to an enterprisewide system would benefit them, not just the IT staff.

“Citing the number of users who have migrated is not the goal. The goal is to provide a good user experience. Going forward, the e-mail experience should be as good as or better than past experiences,” Patterson said Aug. 24 during a LandWarNet 2011 panel.

Strategic communication staffs are using an array of communications techniques to get messages out. Formal notices on Website and e-mail missives are being augmented by social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and the military’s MilBook.

The e-mail issue is only one of many topics handled by strategic communications staffers. Their efforts address a broad range of issues. In the coming years, changes in technology may account for a significant portion of their efforts.

As the Defense Department moves to a new era of networking, there will be an increased demand for communications that explain what’s going to happen and why, as well as to keep military personnel apprised of how changes are progressing.

“There’s a crying demand for more strategic communications from many different groups, as well as from the consumers,” Bullock said.

About the Author

Terry Costlow is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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