Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute is constantly in news articles and opinion pieces about the military, especially on the subject of acquisition. He is knowledgeable and opinionated – a powerful and highly influential combination from the perspective of those in the military trying to shape a message that is delivered to reporters, the defense industry, and, ultimately, the general public.

Other think tank academics from the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, the hot new tank in town Center for a New American Security, American Enterprise Institute, CSIS, CNA Corporation, and CRS (just to name a few) are frequently quoted in news articles about the military on just about every subject. An outside industry expert provides the balance, context and/or an opposing view.

So, does the military proactively and regularly engage these experts? Is this engagement institutionalized or haphazard? Do they have dedicated staff responsible for managing these relationships? The technology industry and their marketing and public relations professionals are very good at this. They court the renowned industry analysts (Gartner Group, META Group, Forrester, and the like) as vociferously as they do technology, business and consumer media, as they know that the industry analysts are significantly influential with the media. In fact, before every major product launch, initiative announcement or company news, they schedule one-on-one meetings with these experts to let them see the new products, kick the tires and test drive them. Not only does it give the technology marketers advance knowledge of any weaknesses (perceived or real) to the product, but it also gives the marketers a chance to directly communicate the technology company’s objective, audience and rationale for the new product. The expert may or may not agree with the technology company’s point of view, but at least they are informed directly by the source – not via a third party or a leaked document. When reporters do call them for a quote, these industry influencers will at least know the technology company’s position.

It is clear from the comments many of the defense industry think tank reps make that they are in constant contact with their own well-cultivated DoD sources. But, is DoD leadership as religious in their outreach to these influencers? If not, they should be. Incorporating them into the military’s communications strategy and outreach process will help the military leadership better make its case.




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2014 Information Domination Essay Contest