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Media is the Battlefield

Newsletter 07-04
October 2006

CALL Handbook No. 06-08: Catastrophic Disaster Response Staff Officer's Handbook Cover

Plan a Media Visit

Appendix D


The element is given orders to plan for civilian media coverage of a news event in its area of operations.

Task Standards:

  1. Element is prepared for visit not later than the time specified in the order.
  2. Staff assesses the nature and impact of the event.
  3. All aspects of the news media event are considered in the planning process.
  4. Key personnel are briefed before the event.
  5. News event is executed not later than the time specified in the order.
  6. After-action requirements are completed.
  7. Unit adheres to rules of engagement.

Subtasks and Standards:

  1. Staff assesses the nature and impact of the event in four areas:
    1. How will it affect the public: internal, external, regional, national, special? Pinpoint the public(s) most affected by or interested in the event.
    2. What are the objectives of the event? Clarify the objectives.
    3. How must the element plan and prepare for the media coverage?
    4. How will the element execute the plan?
  2. Commander and staff plan the news media event.
    1. Media coverage. How will the media be able to cover the news event? If it is an equipment demonstration, will the media be required to be stationary, perhaps shooting photographs from a cordoned-off media area? Or will they be allowed to move about freely, but with individual escorts?
    2. Clearance from higher headquarters is not always required, but when it is, make sure approval is given.
    3. Day/date/time factors. Watch for conflicts or conditions not conducive to media coverage. Use common sense, a calendar, and a schedule of events when setting a date.
    4. Location.
      • Is the location suitable or practical?
      • Can the site be secured?
      • Is the site accessible to the media, buses, and other commercial vehicles?
      • Does the site allow for the transmission of microwave signals to area radio and television stations?
      • If it rains, will mud present a major obstacle?
      • Is there shelter for the media?
      • Is there an inclement weather plan?
      • Inclement weather preparations, outdoors versus indoors: A lack of light is usually the big difference between indoors and outdoors. Parts of the event may have to be altered or canceled if conducted indoors. Additional power generation may be required if conducted indoors.
    5. Time lines and tie-ins with other events. Consider host-country sensitivities.
    6. Advance releases and personal invitations to the media. Carefully scrutinize for errors in spelling, grammar, and format.
    7. Press kit preparation, if needed. Carefully check each piece of information. Make sure only essential information is contained in the press kits. Make sure a point of contact is on each item in the press kit.
    8. Transportation requirements for the media.
      • Make sure the transportation meets the terrain and environmental challenges.
      • Ensure there are suitable parking facilities for the media.
    9. Advance clearance of media. Provide the gate guards or military police a list of media attending the event and instructions on how to refer other unconfirmed media to the public affairs (PA) office or registration site. Another option is to place a PA representative at the gate to verify credentials and issue press badges.
    10. Press center facilities, if required. Consider power, typewriters, commercial telephones, and restrooms.
    11. Advance arrangements for interviews or photography shooting sessions, if required.
    12. Advance briefing for photographers. Discuss photographic considerations (how close they can get to the action and the ground rules).
    13. Escorts, if required.
      • Brief escorts on the event and terrain and media considerations.
      • Use senior noncommissioned officers close to the subject matter or event as escorts.
    14. Copies of speeches or remarks. Do not give the media advance copies of speeches or remarks, since many commanders change them or ad-lib. Give the media a hard copy of a speech or remarks only after it is given and a PA office staffer has verified the contents.
    15. Keep the PA officer (PAO) oriented and prepared to brief on the event. He should know who from the media is attending.
    16. Establish a checklist and milestones.
      • Closely supervise all facets of the media event’s preparation. Troubleshoot the preparation.
      • Keep in touch with all of the key people involved with the media event.
  3. Brief the key people before the event. Go over the itinerary of events, who is coming, what to expect, whom to contact if problems arise, what to do if someone arrives late, and so forth.
  4. Execute the news event.
    1. Register all media representatives. Give them press badges (if required) and press kits, and introduce them to their escorts (if required).
    2. Ensure S1 constantly checks all facets of the news event and works closely with the PAO to solve problems quickly and quietly.
  5. After the news media event, the commander and staff:
    1. Debrief the key personnel involved.
    2. Monitor print media, radio, and television for coverage.
    3. Write an after-action report.

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