responsible for coordinating all aspects of the
A well-orchestrated embark involving national
media begins at the local command level, then
ultimately reaches CHINFO for final approval.
Planning and coordination is the responsibility of the
on-scene PAO, because he is more familiar with the
subject matter, issues and facilities where the embark
will take place.
Hold a pre-departure briefing as soon as possible so
reporters can meet the CO and other key individuals,
and get answers to preliminary questions. If corre-
spondents join your unit while it is deployed, make sure
they are briefed soon after arriving.
Cover the following subjects in the pre-departure
. Ground rules
. Basic shipboard safety
. Emergency procedures
l Off-limit areas
l Photography restrictions
. Procedures to take during a security alert
. Wardroom and berthing accommodations
Note: Embarked news media representatives will
receive the same wardroom and berthing privileges as a
lieutenant commander or senior, if available, regardless
of any prior military rank held.
Preparing the Command
Inform the crew about the media embark through
the Plan of the Day, ships newspaper, bulletin boards
and SITE system. Give the reporters names, affiliations
and the length of their visits. Be ready to provide the
reporters with crew members of certain geographical
locations for interviews. For instance, if an ENG team
from a San Antonio television station embarks aboard
the USS Forrestal (AVT 59) in Pensacola to do a story
on naval aviation training, they will request interviews
with Texans involved in the actual training, especially
those from San Antonio. The personnel office can help
you with hometown information.
If the number of embarking correspondents
outnumbers your public affairs office escorts, you have
to get more. These escorts are usually senior enlisted
members or officers identified by the command during
pre-embark planning sessions. Regardless of who is
chosen, you must adequately train these escorts and
make sure they attend the pre-departure briefing.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and one good
still photo can often do a better job of conveying an idea
than a months worth of news releases. You should
develop an eye for photo-worthy situations and either
release them yourself or invite news photographers to
cover the event.
Film clips or videotapes are also in demand if they
are not obvious setups or posed situations. In general,
news editors and news directors are very distrustful of
government audiovisual products. However, if you have
established credibility and deal only in honest images,
you can achieve greater acceptance of visual releases.
Your JO2 has written a feature story about two pilots
assigned to a squadron at your air station. She
interviewed the pilot and co-pilot after a flight to an
interesting destination. The story, written primarily for
your base newspaper, is aimed at your internal audience
that already knows something about your base and its
mission. A picture of the two of them in the cockpit
illustrates the story.
What can you do to get more media mileage from
this story? Market it. Your taking the time to adapt this
story to a different audience will enable you to tap into
thousands of new readers.
In the preceding scenario, you can easily modify the
story into a hometown feature. By having the two pilots
fill out a Fleet Home Town News release form, you get
both personal data and release permission. With
minimal rewrite time, you can take the original story and
turn it into two separate stories-with each pilot getting
star billing for his hometown markets. When doing this,
you will need to add such information as hometowns,
where they attended school and the names of their
parents. You also must identify the location of the air
station and its mission.