In this article from ‘The Iron Major’ series, Dave Butler and Dave Chase discuss how a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) can be a force multiplier for a staff headquarters to ‘maximise the effects of the information age’.
As the authors explain, how an organisation’s ‘actions are interpreted are as important as the actions themselves’ and a PAO is an enabler to ensure the right messaging occurs. As the communications experts, the PAO will help to ‘communicate clearly and effectively’. This article provides excellent examples of how a PAO can achieve this.
The article highlights that PAOs are often networked into many organisations outside of the military. As such, their interactions with external stakeholders enables them to have an understanding of areas such as national defence policy, political climates and wider strategic issues. Additionally, they have established relationships with journalists and can use this to maximise positive messaging.
Where possible, a PAO should not be restricted to purely formation tasks. As a staff member within a unit, the PAO can assist with battalion planning – from contributing as part of information dominance to influencing the battle space to planning community engagement events or assisting when crises occur.