A round of applause for the U.S. Air Force, please. They have provided the most deliciously ironic story we’ve reported in a long time. In the very same week that sources reported that Air Force servers were blocking virtually all popular social media sites, including the military's own YouTube alternative site, “TroopTube,” the Air Force also held an annual conference focusing on... you guessed it, “new media tactics.”
Last week, 350 Airmen and Air Force civilians met at the 2009 U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Professional Development Seminar, otherwise known as the “Worldwide.” According to the official blog of the U.S. Air Force, the annual conference “is a chance for everyone who works in public affairs (PA) to get together to share ideas and learn what others have been doing in their PA shop.”
As part of this year’s focus on new media tactics, the Emerging Technology Division of the Air Force Public Affairs Agency (AFPAA) launched their new book and video entitled “New Media and the Air Force” and Tweeted throughout the conference to over 2,000 followers – presumably none of them at actual Air Force bases.
David Meerman Scott, who is the author of books on viral marketing and online media and was the conference’s keynote speaker, wrote in his blog about the conference. Scott said he “was impressed with how deeply the smart people at the Air Force have thought about social media and how quickly they have jumped in.”
One of those smart people is Colonel Michael G. Caldwell, acting director of public affairs for the United States Air Force, who Scott interviewed.
"We want to inspire leadership at all levels to embrace change and be a part of the solution," Caldwell told Scott. "I want our guys going out there and talking about how their day went, either bad or good. The fact that young people in the Air Force are involved in multi-million dollar equipment is mind-blowing to people outside of the Air Force. And when people talk about what they are involved in on places like Facebook, it is more effective than a slick over-produced video."
But he is also aware that the military has challenges that other organizations don’t when it comes to new media. National security is the biggest one, but also dealing with a hierarchy that isn’t necessarily attuned to the rapidly changing online world.
OhMyGov! applauds the AFPAA for its attempts to harness the social media beast, even while the Pentagon appears to work at cross purposes to their mission. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for their videos, blogs, and tweets!
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