Public affairs, multi-media functions merge

***image1***Twenty-four hour news cycles and the demand for real-time data and images dictate an adjustment in how the Air Force is organized in order to better leverage its capabilities and provide timely and focused information to the public, the Air Force chief of staff said recently in a memorandum.

“To help build a versatile and formidable communication capability, I approve the concept of realigning two functional areas – public affairs and multimedia – into a relevant strategic communication structure that will provide operational capability for today and into the future,” he wrote.

The realignment will take place first at the Air Staff level. Multimedia will realign from the Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Office to the Air Force Office of Communication and the Office of Public Affairs.

“The goal of strategic communication is to inform and appropriately influence key audiences by synchronizing and integrating our communication efforts,” said Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, director of Air Force communication. “Through this realignment, both multimedia and public affairs will be operationally aligned to help meet that goal.”

The career field managers for public affairs and multimedia began studying a merger of the career fields in November 2005. Several meetings took place to compare training plans and doctrine and to gather inputs from major command functional managers from both communities.

“Our goal is to create a new capability for the Air Force, not just merge two career fields,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ron Nelson, multimedia career field manager.

The result of the study was a proposal to merge public affairs specialists with multimedia photographers and public affairs broadcasters with multimedia videographers to create new capabilities. Combining capabilities will increase operational effectiveness and national and international understanding by improving communication to internal and external audiences.

“Both communities are in the business of telling stories, through pictures, words and video,” said Chief Master Sgt. Janice Conner, public affairs career field manager. “This realignment will leverage the capabilities of Airmen from both multimedia and public affairs into one team focused on the operational mission of communicating to both internal and external audiences.”

The first step for strategic communication is a top-level realignment of assets, followed by a study to bring the four career fields down to two. Air Force strategic communications and public affairs will develop a plan and a timeline of how and when to realign at the major command and installation levels.

“The approval of the concept to realign is just the first step in building this capability. Both communities will work together to put into place the policies, training and structures to make it work,” said Col. Michelle Johnson, director of Air Force public affairs. “There will be a number of working groups formed to look at the myriad of areas involved in merging (Air Force specialty codes) such as deployments, training, and budgets.”

This realignment meets the vision of the Air Force secretary and chief of staff to reduce the number of AFSCs by organizing into expeditionary clusters that are tied to the roles Airmen currently fulfill.
(Courtesy of Air Force Print News)