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A New Communications Strategy for the Naval Service

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1 A New Communications Strategy for the Naval Service
Captain Mike Beardall Royal Navy

2 “If the character of the last military era was defined by the West’s ability to conduct precision strikes on enemy platforms and command nodes, the conflicts of the future are likely to be defined more by the centrality of influence…This battle of the narratives… will take place in a decentralised, networked free-market of ideas, opinions and even raw data, which will weaken the immediacy and influence of mainstream news providers.” DCDC ‘Future Character of Conflict’ 2010 “Overall, there is a new capacity for scrutiny and accountability way beyond the assumed power and influence of the traditional media… hundreds of millions of ‘information do-ers’… shed light where it is often assumed there will be darkness.” Nik Gowing ‘Skyful of Lies and Black Swans’, RISJ, 2009

3 The next 30 minutes in brief…
Legacy communications structures Obstacles to progress A new strategic approach Key messages: Key publics Measurement and evaluation Future plans

4 Legacy issues… The Regional News Department
Who: ‘FOSNNI Media & Communications What: Responsible for regional news activities in the UK Where: Naval Base, Clyde Which 2*: Flag Officer, Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland (Rear Admiral, Based in Scotland) The Non-News Department Who: ‘Assistant Head, Directorate Media & Communications, PR (Navy)’ (DMC Op Comms) What: Responsible for Branding, Events, Licensing, TV documentaries, magazine spreads etc Where: MOD Main Building, London Which 2*: Director MOD Media & Communication (Civil Servant based in London) The News Department Who: ‘Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff (Media)’ (NCHQ Media) What: Responsible for news operations, mobile teams, internal communications Where: Command HQ, Portsmouth Which 2*: Command Secretary (Civil Servant based in Portsmouth) The Marketing Department Who: ‘Captain Naval Recruiting’ (CNR) What: Responsible for Above-the Line recruitment marketing, TV advertising, recruitment ads etc Where: Naval Base, Portsmouth Which 2*: Flag Officer, Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland (Rear Admiral, Based in Scotland)

5 Obstacles to progress Structures
Functional geographical and hierarchical separation Limited resources spread too thinly Messaging Messages over complicated and inconsistently delivered No resonance with publics’ concerns and priorities Understanding Despite consistently high favorability towards and familiarity with the RN, it remains poorly understood. MoE A capacity to measure the penetration of our messaging and its effect on understanding is not employed Familiarity Many of our own people cannot instinctively ariculare our core messages

6 Reform in progress… Structures
Moves to end functional geographical and hierarchical separation, and to co-locate resources and personnel Messaging Development, approval and sole-use of the Navy Strategic Message House, Advocate Ambassadors and Spokespeople Understanding All ‘Levers of Influence’ to use the SMH as a baseline Requirement for training organisations to use SMH product MoE The development of an integrated output-outtake-outcome monitoring and analysis unit to drive future strategy

7 Getting ahead of the curve
Communications Strategy Based on Scenario Planning Monitoring Media Mapping Media Analysis Quotes of Note Planning Event horizon 1-12 months News Operations Event horizon 0-1 month

8 A new strategic approach
Identify key audiences Those with the greatest potential to affect future strategic success Establish core messages The ‘big six’ that define the raison d’etre of the service Gauge publics’ understanding Gain an empirical uptake ‘fix’ Apply communications ‘in grid’ Message house messages become the basis for all comms Re-measure and re-evaluate Monitor, analyse an evaluate to determine future policy

9 Key messages: Key publics
1. Decision Makers 2. Opinion Leaders 3. Service Personnel 4. Service Diaspora 5. Media Advocates 6. Youth Those groups that have the greatest potential to influence our future strategic success 1. Preventing Conflict 2. Providing Security at Sea 3. Promoting Partnerships 4. Providing Humanitarian Asst. 5. Protecting our Economy 6. Ready to fight The six key messages that we want our publics to remember when they think ‘Why Navy?’

10 Operating ‘In Grid’ Whenever conducting influence activity, instructing outstations to focus effort on delivering key all messages to all key publics, in priority order.

11 What do we want? When our communications output reaches our target publics, what outcome do we want it to have? Differentiate We want our messages to be recognisably different Reinforce Our messages can reinforce existing beliefs Inform Where no previous knowledge exists, we can help Persuade Our messages are a call to action! Fill (2002, 2011) Essentials of Marketing Communications

12 What do we want? We want our publics to move through a journey from awareness to action… Awareness Comprehension Conviction Action What do we expect of publics at this stage? Audience are aware of the brand and some ‘boilerplate details’ Audience develop greater understanding of the ‘big six’ messages Audience begin to advocate Naval messaging – naval messages incorporated into own Audience take positive personal steps to further Naval aims How might we measure this? Would need to recall (prompted or unprompted) basic details Unprompted recall of central tenets of the six messages Evidence of personal adherence to Naval aims (membership, votes, lobbying as appropriate) Post-conviction behaviour. Regular re-broadcast of Naval messages. Advocacy. Adapted from: The ‘Hierarchy of Communications’, after Colley (1961)

13 Why? - A quicker route to market…
Based on Schramm (1955), Hall (1974) and Jenkins (2007)

14 Why? - The Zone of Effective Communication
Adapted from Lengel and Daft (1988, 227) and Balogun and Hope-Hailey (2008,195)

15 Organic Monitoring MINI is a Royal Navy initiative to keep Ships and Units better informed of RN coverage in the worldwide media Distributed daily and compiled from several open-source outlets It also forms the Press Office’s historical archive and weekly briefs Statistical analysis allows‘at a glance’ evaluation of news stories

16 Outlets range in significance
Organic Monitoring Consistent outtake monitoring and analysis requires a baseline… Outlets range in significance 100 Articles range in tone -2 +2 Groups of articles on the same subject make a story Tone x Significance = Impact

17 Long-term trends tell their own story
Making the transit from data to knowledge – just some of the information we can deduce… 60 month total of toned articles Percentage of toned articles with a positive tone

18 What do we want to achieve?
A system in which limited resources are used to maximum capacity A system in which all the ‘levers of influence’ are centrally guided and where the most effective is used when required A system in which departmental output is linked to audience outcome through evidence-based monitoring and analysis By understanding where deficiencies of knowledge exist amongst our key publics, the strategic application of communications will allow us to improve understanding of our key messages amongst those that have the greatest potential to influence the future strategic success of the Naval Service.

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