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MoDs PR army of spin is out of control

#1
http://www.prweek.com/us/news/article/672799/MoDs-PR-army-spin-control/

LONDON - Britain's defence chiefs are spending millions of pounds on more than 1,000 spin doctors to improve the public image of the armed forces, but admit that they have no idea who these PRs are or whether they are having an impact.

The startling admission was made in a report called The Defence Communications Strategy, which also marks the government's first official acknowledgement that there is little or no public support for the war in Iraq.

Simon MacDowall, the Ministry of Defence's director general of media and communications, oversaw the report, which he described as an attempt to reduce the bureaucracy in the department's PR operations.

One section of the report reads: "We have no clear idea of the number of people involved in defence communications work or their costs. Over 1,000 people in the MoD have a media/communications job code. This excludes many military personnel involved in communications work."

The MoD's so-called communications department also confesses that it does not know whether its army of PR people is having any effect.

It said: "We need to be able to measure the impact of our communications effort both internally and externally."

Ongoing operations in Iraq were specifically mentioned, including the lack of support for the war, although Afghanistan fared better.

The report stated: "Operations in Iraq are not supported by the majority of the public and operations in Afghanistan are supported by only a narrow majority. There is a lack of public understanding of the rationale behind each mission."

The document also readily endorses the use of "news management" or "spin" to influence public opinion.

This is best achieved, it says, by "creating a steady stream of positive stories which directly promote the MoD and forces' reputation, but also helps to offset the inevitable bad stories".

The MoD said yesterday that the seventh British serviceman to die in Iraq this month was killed in a mortar attack on a British base in Basra. He was named as Lance Corporal Timothy Darren Flowers of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

The British death toll stands at 163.

Any thoughts? Without naming names, I've found MOD civvy PR people to be deeply unhelpful...
 
#3
and each level of command has a PR dept, which doesnt function hierarchialy, and doesnt work on a joined up plan, and will ask you the same question several times finally deciding that your answer doenst fit their so they go with their own choice in the end.

Oh and we still end up looking like cnuts in the media more often than not anyway.
 
#4
Rumpelstiltskin said:
http://www.prweek.com/us/news/article/672799/MoDs-PR-army-spin-control/

The MoD's so-called communications department also confesses that it does not know whether its army of PR people is having any effect.

It said: "We need to be able to measure the impact of our communications effort both internally and externally."

Ongoing operations in Iraq were specifically mentioned, including the lack of support for the war, although Afghanistan fared better.

The report stated: "Operations in Iraq are not supported by the majority of the public and operations in Afghanistan are supported by only a narrow majority. There is a lack of public understanding of the rationale behind each mission."

The document also readily endorses the use of "news management" or "spin" to influence public opinion.

This is best achieved, it says, by "creating a steady stream of positive stories which directly promote the MoD and forces' reputation, but also helps to offset the inevitable bad stories".
They need to think a bit harder about the effect of 'spin'. Creating positive stories out of a bad situation soon falls apart as a strategy: look at B'liar as a case in point.

SOldiers and Joe Public - even the press - are capable eventually of sussing out what is fact and what is fiction. The MoD needs not only to present a coherent story (that means sorting out the Info Ops structure, and internal comms), but also one that is at heart believable because it is honest.

There are too many alternative sources of credible info (e.g. this website) for the MoD to epxect spin to go unchallenged. If such challenges are constant, and consistently more credible than the 'spun' stories - bang goes their credibility.

Soorry - that seems to imply they haven't already lost their credibility. 8)
 
#5
Jesus Christ.

MoDPR , I know you read this forum. Sub-contract this out to Army Rumour Service , we'll do it better and at a fraction of the cost.

Unless you've been asleep for the last week, and during Pun VC?
 
#6
PTP, they are esentially useless. You and I know that they have their fancy post-nominals but no brains to back them up!

It seems to me that they are actually damaging the armed forces to such an extent that many do not want to join. Certainly not those young chaps with some intelligence who can read through the hype!!!
 
#7
PartTimePongo said:
Jesus Christ.

MoDPR , I know you read this forum. Sub-contract this out to Army Rumour Service , we'll do it better and at a fraction of the cost.

Unless you've been asleep for the last week, and during Pun VC?
PTP, as an end-user of the MoD's PR (i.e.; a civilian not particularly in the loop), and a lurker/occasional poster on this site, I'd say they've been asleep for the past few years...

I'd say that Stonker's point about honesty and credibility would be the way to go; the Beeb might have put a positive slant on it's WWII reporting, but was fundamentally pretty good - that's why even the bad guys listened to it, rather than the tosh produced by Herr Goebbels et al. Not that I'm saying today's Beeb is in the same league; I suspect Lord Reith would have most of it up against a wall behind Broadcasting House.

M_M
 
#8
You Think .... MOD PR is purely seen as spin induced liabour nonsense untill it returns too reality along with the rest of the goberment ..... god what am i saying going too lie down reality liabour spin PR MOD ... never use any on these words on the same sheet of paper
 
#9
The best PR these days is letting soldiers be seen doing their jobs (Guarding the Queen, QDG Program about Iraq) and let the nation make up its own mind.

People are sick to death of spin to the extent its now self defeating.

People respect honesty and the reality of life, soldiers are some of the finest people you will ever come across, and they deliver the "Great" in Britain at the moment almost entirely on their own.

Let them be seen on ops today and that is what the majority who have an open mind will also see.
 
#10
Papa Lazarou...

The best PR is word of mouth!

I will no longer encourage or entertain youngsters telling us here at ARRSE that they are starting basic or that are looking at trades!

Why?

Because now that I am being discharged for an injury I received during my service I am just fit for the junkyard... I am actively discouraging people from joining up.

This could change if they looked after us when shit happens!
 
#11
The report stated: "Operations in Iraq are not supported by the majority of the public and operations in Afghanistan are supported by only a narrow majority. There is a lack of public understanding of the rationale behind each mission."
That statement might go some way towards explaining why MoD PR lacks credibility. It's not that we don't understand the rational, it's that we understand it and disagree that it's accurate. But in Spinworld, not agreeing with the official position must mean are badly informed or incapable of understanding the complex arguments. Sheer purblind arrogance.
 
#12
I'm actually very serious about this. Give us a project , bang the money in to Arrse HQ, and let's get on it.

Perhaps I'm just getting frustrated by the thinking that those with a degree in media studies from Newton Polyversity are somehow better qualified to present the 'essential picture' than those Arrsers who are posting before cleaning weapons and going off for a shower , hopefully before the mortar alarm goes off?

The public want it real and in realtime. The basic problem to my mind, is not 'sanitisation' , it's the public haven't got a palpable and real objective to take a firm hold of, and call their own.

Yes they want the big picture, but they also want to know that Pvt. Bloggs from their home town is facing up to adversity and doing it uncommon well.

The public want their heroes, and all MoDPR have achieved so far, is a lot of faceless soldiers fighting in some far flung shit-hole. The public want to IDENTIFY with us and our cause, they want to share our hopes and fear, and not in some purely avatistic fashion.

There are a great many members of the public, who genuinely care and want to do more.

Ringfence those members of the public, and build on that base. We have just proven the British public is stirred into action in support of out forces , give them something to be stirred about.

We have so many ideas here to do this. Never mind bloody spin , give the public and us what we need.
 
#13
PTP.... a media degree does not give you inside knowledge.

I believe they get given snippets of info and 'build' a story.....

Do you disagree?
 
#14
themaadone said:
Papa Lazarou...

The best PR is word of mouth!

I will no longer encourage or entertain youngsters telling us here at ARRSE that they are starting basic or that are looking at trades!

Why?

Because now that I am being discharged for an injury I received during my service I am just fit for the junkyard... I am actively discouraging people from joining up.

This could change if they looked after us when s*** happens!
Quite right.

But seeing what the troops do every day, and what it costs them, may well awaken the public at large to consider that even though they disagree with the government policy, they want the best for those who serve and suffer injuries as a result.

The only way treatment of our injured will improve is when there is a financial or political imperative. If people relate to us then there will in turn be a political imperative to deliver. Spin does nothing to enable the public to relate to a soldier, and word of mouth doesnt hit enough of society as we are a minority (100k in 57 million).
 
#15
Back in the old day of NI (78?) we had a directive come down from on high. They had come to the conclusion that what we now call spin was having a detrimental effect on our work.

All media was to go through higher formation with someone who knew what the bigger picture was. Any encounter with civpop that may be news worthy, good or bad was to be passed up and the facts put out to the press.

So when Pte Bloggs had an accident the facts were presented and that RUC would investigate, not spin saying that Bloggs was driving chasing a vehicle and Mrs granny came out in front of him and it was her fault.

All instances were to be put to the press good or bad, obviously highlighting the good but not hiding the bad. This resulted in the army being believed by the press and civpop when the enemy put out a contradicting storey. As we all know as far as Sinn Féin was concerned PIRA could do no wrong.
 
#16
smartascarrots said:
The report stated: "Operations in Iraq are not supported by the majority of the public and operations in Afghanistan are supported by only a narrow majority. There is a lack of public understanding of the rationale behind each mission."
Made more complicated because there is a lack of rationale behind each mission
 
#17
I don't disagree at all. I do tihnk the snippets they select to build on, are part of a very flawed formula that needs a total overhaul , not , yet another coat of gloss.
 
#18
Exactly, there are enough smart, intelligent and educated ex servicepeople who could do these jobs BUT.... pay peanuts get monkeys and the MoD do not pay that well - ergo, they receive the not so good graduates in my opinion (me, I am on my way to a 1st class degree :) )
 
#19
Mr_Mitty said:
PartTimePongo said:
Jesus Christ.

MoDPR , I know you read this forum. Sub-contract this out to Army Rumour Service , we'll do it better and at a fraction of the cost.

Unless you've been asleep for the last week, and during Pun VC?
PTP, as an end-user of the MoD's PR (i.e.; a civilian not particularly in the loop), and a lurker/occasional poster on this site, I'd say they've been asleep for the past few years...

I'd say that Stonker's point about honesty and credibility would be the way to go; the Beeb might have put a positive slant on it's WWII reporting, but was fundamentally pretty good - that's why even the bad guys listened to it, rather than the tosh produced by Herr Goebbels et al. Not that I'm saying today's Beeb is in the same league; I suspect Lord Reith would have most of it up against a wall behind Broadcasting House.

M_M
Mebbe worth saying that my point is based on personal experience of setting up the IFOR Information Campaign in the mid-90s, having spent the better part of 4 years watching the UN, NATO, and a number of national gunmints being made to look stoopid in different degrees by the various Balknan factions aided and abetted by an omnipresent (but often ill-informed) press corps, whose communications - even in those pre-broadband days - significantly exceeded the speed of reaction of any the external, state-sponsored institutions involved in the humanitarian and later missions.

Part of the foundation it needed was an honest relationship with the non-Balkan press, and they in turn wanted rapid access to newsworthy information.

For the most part, that was delivered, and the IFOR mission was never in danger of being undermined through want of public trust. For an independent review of how it worked, strengths and weaknesses, and how it was thrown away :roll: by the Boxhead general who took over with SFOR - read Target Bosnia
 
#20
1000 wordsmiths at say at least 30K a year if you include add-ons........work it out for yourselves. As PTP says, there is enough intelligence/expertese on ARRSE to do a better job for a fraction of the cost. Oh sorry, we can't have hundreds of jobsworths from the bloated Civil Service unemployed can we?

edited once
 

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