Strategic communication and media engagement can play a vital role for the success of Defence industry communicating its value proposition to a wider audience.
LTCOL (retd) Brendan Maxwell, founder and director of strategy, communication and reputation consultancy The Decisive Point, recently spoke on this topic at the Defence in Business Queensland event held at the United Services Club, Brisbane.
Maxwell managed to adapt a number of lessons in media relations from high profile military appointments, including the unit commander of the 1st Joint Public Affairs Unit, were he was selected to deploy as the Head of Communications of the Victoria Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority in the immediate response to Australia’s largest natural disaster. Maxwell also deployed to provide strategic advice during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 and served multiple deployments in Iraq, Beirut and Afghanistan.
His mantra is to have a plan, communicate the plan and maintain your hard-fought reputation.
“We touched on the importance of controlling your environment and setting the conditions for success. This is never more important than when preparing for, managing or conducting a media interview,” Maxwell said.
“By filling the information vacuum with narrative of your choosing and engaging in a professional way, the media can be a useful platform to broadcast your message to a wide audience.”
Maxwell recommends keeping a finger on the pulse of the news cycle before getting a message out.
“Know the latest news for context of how your interview is placed in the news cycle, know the issues of the day, issues affecting your company or industry, issues that you should anticipate could be raised in your interview,” he said.
“Prepare two or three key messages or 'bridging statements' as I like to call them.
“Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Get in an expert to conduct some media training and deliberate preparation. Maintaining stakeholder, customer or investor confidence will impact your bottom line. The investment is worth it.”
Another key tip is to avoid using the jargon that is common in the Defence and industry space.
“Use clear and simple language,” Maxwell said. “You are not trying to be the smartest person in the room. Avoid Defence industry acronyms and jargon. If you anticipate a number of technical questions, have a technical expert on hand.”
Lastly, Maxwell recommends keeping an eye out for opportunities for getting a message out there.
“Why would you ever consider answering a question with ‘no comment’? Every question is an opportunity to get your message across.
“Where possible have your team get back to the interviewer with any further information you may have promised. This is another opportunity to get across your narrative.”