Reader reply: Defence PR still stuck in first gear

Tom Hyland is currently International Editor of the Sunday Age:

I wish it was true, but I’m not sure I agree with you when you say defence is getting its PR into gear. The pics and press release relating to the SOTG coming to the aid of survivors of the IED blast were issued a week after the event. Even allowing for the torturous ADF decision-making process, and the possible op-sec issues, reporting something one week after an event means it’s not news, it’s old.

Secondly, the pics and press release were issued on a Friday afternoon, timing that is almost certain to guarantee an item won’t be published in any of the major dailies on Saturday, because of early print deadlines.

Thirdly, the faces of the people in the pics – the doctors, medics and victims – are all pixillated. There may be reasons for this, but it doesn’t enhance chances of these images being reproduced in the media.

And finally, the press-release is written in a wooden style, with no emotion or human content. Where are the quotes from the troops involved? And where did this incident happen? Who were the people involved? Where were they from? Where were they going? Now maybe the target audience for this press release and associated pics wasn’t the Australian media. Who knows.

As for the surge in official reporting of SOTG activities, at least some of the ADF releases were issued well after ISAF had reported these incidents.

Again, I hope you’re right, but I’m not sure this indicates the ADF has got its PR act together, or that it’s decided to be more candid.

There’s an interesting piece on page 13 of the latest edition of Army newspaper. It quotes soldiers in Deh Rawoud, recounting combat in December, including one contact that lasted more than seven hours. Yet this stuff wasn’t the focus of any ADF press releases at the time.

Of course this wouldn’t be an issue if the Australia media thought it worth their while to base reporters full-time in Oruzgan. But don’t start me on that one.

Image courtesy of The Age.

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