MOD: Champions of new media
When the Government announced in March last year that many Ministry of Defence sites were to be shut down, the future of MOD communications looked uncertain. However, just one year later and the MOD have become leaders in the field of social media engagement.
Communication for the MOD has always been complex and multi-faceted and, as an organisation, they face unique challenges in putting across clear messages. A single voice must present itself to the defence industry, understand complicated technology, be genuine and relatable to military service persons and their families and also communicate with the wider domestic and global community on sensitive issues and events.
The MOD are due high praise for facing this intricate task head on and engaging with social media.
Online media tools with instant, far-reaching delivery capabilities seem like the perfect fit for the MOD, since being able to articulate and disseminate time-sensitive information is vital to the UK defence industry.
Today, not only have the UK’s defence websites been streamlined, MOD campaigns have also become award-winning projects.
In March of this year the MOD scooped a prize from an internationally recognised media body for their social media educational campaign which was aimed at warning the defence community about the importance of safeguarding personal information.
The International Visual Communications Association (IVCA) Awards honoured the MOD campaign with a Gold Award for Best Public Relations for the ‘Think Before You… Share’ campaign.
The campaign was produced by the Directorate of Media and Communications (DMC) together with CTN Communications.
The campaign offers guidance for personnel using social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and warns users about the risks of accidentally releasing too much information about themselves. The campaign also warned against releasing other operational details such as posting details and locations of troop movements and operational events, locations and travel details of ships or aircraft as well as people’s home addresses.
The guidance is incorporated into Phase 1 training when new recruits first join the Service and also into other mandated training materials for serving personnel.
There was also further success at the awards with the ‘Don’t Bottle It Up’ campaign, which encourages Armed Forces personnel to talk more about their problems and which won the Silver Award in the same category.
DMC Head of Online Engagement Pippa Norris, who collected the Award, said: “We are thrilled to receive this award because it demonstrates two very important things.
“Firstly, the security of our people is of utmost importance, and secondly, that social media is not something to be demonised but to be used safely and responsibly.
“We want everyone to enjoy and make the most out of social media in the widest possible sense. Hence we want them to apply common sense and to ‘Think before they Share’ online.
“To be able to work on such a fun campaign with colleagues from other parts of defence (with whom we rarely have any contact) proves that we can deliver highly effective and engaging campaigns that we can all be proud of.”
With this kind of digital-friendly attitude towards social media, Britain’s Armed Forces are set to continue to lead the way for online engagement.