During the Cold War, when Western and Warsaw Pact tanks were facing each other, the idea of a “selling” NATO’s role to allied publics would have been ludicrous because everyone knew why it was important. Now, in the run-up to the Alliance’s 60th anniversary, NATO has realised how important it is to communicate its role and worth to publics in European and North America.
But doing so at a time when the only kind of security ordinary people think about is their job security is a real challenge. As my colleague Nick Witney has said: “Defense is no longer a business of manning the ramparts or preparing to resist invasion. It has to be about an attempt to project stability. It is a hard doctrine to get people to believe in.”
To help NATO communicate better, it has hired an executive from Coca-Cola to manage the way the alliance is seen around the world and launched a an internet-based service called NATO TV as well as a Media Operations Centre (called the “MOC”) with the sole task of improving communications about NATO’s Afghan mission.
Next week, I will attend an internal NATO meeting to discuss ways to overcome NATO’s communications challenges. And this is where you come in. I’d like to solicit the help of you, the rarified group of people who make up the Global Dashboard readership.
For I’d like to tell the assembled defence communicators what security-tracking, information-seeking, well-informed people like yourselves think are the biggest communications challenges for NATO — and perhaps how to overcome these.
So here are a couple of questions I’d love to get your in-put on, which I will duly pass on at the NATO meeting.
- What are NATO’s greatest challenges now and over the next five years?
- What are the most serious threats to your country’s national security and what role do you think NATO should play in addressing this?
- What aspect of NATO’s communications do you think works well?
- What do you think of NATO TV? How can it be improved?
- If you were in charge of NATO communications, what would you do?
I look forward to hearing what you think.