In 2019 Annual Conference, FPRA, FPRA Blog

By Kate MacMillan, Northwest Florida Coast Chapter

@katemikos  @katemacmillan88

The second day of the 81st Annual FPRA Conference, retired Lt. Colonel Mitchell Marovitz spoke to attendees about the evolution of public affairs in the US Army throughout his career spanning over 30 years in the industry. Marovitz used the timeline of his career, which stretched across a multitude of countries during times of global unrest, to talk about how the emergence of technology changed the landscape of public affairs. Technological advancements continue to provide new opportunities to spread information, but Marovitz reminds us that the foundation of public relations can be found by practicing key PR theories.

“It’s important to ask the right questions, but you can’t ask the right questions without a strong basis in theory.”

He also emphasized that the primary key to a successful public affairs career is building and maintaining strong face-to-face relationships.

Marovitz’s crisis doctrine: plan, practice, tell the truth: tell it fast, explain what you know and what you don’t.

A brief summary of Marovitz’s career highlights include:

  • Chicago Ham radio correspondent in the 1960s
  • Running the Southern European Network in Italy during the rise of the Italian communist party in the 1970s, which taught him the importance of working with all groups in order to get your message across
  • Working in Panama during the eruption of Desert Storm in the Middle East in the 1990s. The responsibility of communicating the state of affairs across the world to the troops stationed in Panama taught Marovitz that when information is lacking, people tend to fill in their own information. Knowledge can calm unrest.
  • Working in LA as the primary liaison between the army and the entertainment industry on movie projects to ensure the US Army’s reputation was being appropriately represented.

Key Takeaways from Marovitz’s presentation:

  • Clear and open communication is important when getting your message across
  • Community relations are built on face-to-face contact and building personal relations
  • Reputation management and the building of trust within a community are key to success
  • Understanding the importance of strategy when building your communications plan
  • The opportunities within the army are endless in the public affairs field that allows you to tell the story of the US Military
  • As technology evolves, the opportunity to communicate more effectively continues to be enhanced
  • Speak the language of the C-suite and get a seat at the table
  • The future doesn’t stop today. What’s beyond social media?
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Tomorrows PAOs will need to be prepared for the future
    • Preparing future generations with data analytics studies

Opportunities provided by Public Affairs in the US Army:

  • Opportunity to tell the story of our country’s armed forces
  • Resources available:
    • stripes.com
    • defense.net
    • These websites house all of the stories and imagery that the army uses to tell its story both internally and externally

If interested in joining the army’s public affairs office, Marovitz makes the following recommendations:

  • If you like to produce/do, its recommended to enlist. If you like planning and strategy, officer is recommended
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