PR in camouflage

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This video is one of the most high profile PR initiatives to come out of the Australian Defence Forces in recent years. It is only the tip of the iceberg.

In two weeks of desktop and primary research, i have seen and heard stories about gender equality and sexism, community relations, strategic planning*, and endless other topics.

*The strategic communications plan for the ADF is a HUGE document!

It is abundantly clear that a career in Defence PR would be exciting. And challenging. And rewarding. And confronting.

I spoke with Leanne Glenny – former senior adviser to the head of ADF public affairs and corporate communications – about what it’s like to be employed by the ADF. The appointment appealed to her for reasons beyond the salary and tangible benefits.

Originally, she was attracted by the excitement of the job, and the opportunity to do something different and perhaps out of her comfort zone. Her motivation in this role stemmed from a culture of team spirit and camaraderie, and the satisfaction of doing something for society.

With a significant organisational focus on career development and training, Leanne recalls learning strategic thinking skills, developing breadth of understanding, mental and physical strength and personal resolve.

As a current PR educator, Leanne says she would be thrilled to see graduates of her program pursue a career in the ADF, undertaking the challenge of understanding the organisation as a whole and communicating their efforts to global publics.

According to Defence Force Recruiting’s Captain Rachel Chipman, a lot of the ‘bread and butter’ PR work involves the safety of our troops, ensuring a positive reception for them when they arrive in different communities.

Both women speak of the ADF as an inspiring and worthwhile place to work, and believe that there is lots of ground to be covered in terms of gender equality in the organisational culture.

Working as a Special Services Officer (SSO) for public relations would allow me to combine my love for fitness and travel and my passion for gender equality into a PR role, and develop skills and attributes that I value.
The organisational culture of excellence, development and teamwork would motivate me, and I identify strongly with their values.

Reading through other blogs about military PR, I’m beginning to understand that it’s a very unique environment in which to operate.

With over 80,000 personnel in three services, one can only imagine the amount of PR required by the ADF and the country that it represents. The sheer number of news releases would be incredible. The organisation is in a unique position of both protecting and representing the country and Government. This kind of accountability would require transparency and discretion, compassion and toughness. A balance that Chief of Army David Morrison and speechwriter Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor seem to have not only achieved but maintained through many organisational and cultural issues that have arisen. To be responsible for content creation, issue/crisis communication, community relations or more for such a team would be an incredible experience, and rewarding in so many ways.

The application process involves vigorous testing of aptitude, personality, experience, medical and physical ability and more. It is a competitive entry program and requires four years of civilian experience. The ADF employs PR SSOs in reserve, part time and full time capacities, and these Officers work at both tactical and strategic levels all over the globe.

I start this process on April 30.