Social media from the front line

February 2, 2012

Major Paul Smyth is one of the people responsible for changing the Ministry of Defence’s approach to social media particularly in the context of front line operations.

I’ve spoken to him previously for the Frontline Club about his Frontline bloggers project

In this interview with David Bailey, Maj. Smyth talks in some detail about how he used social media to tell the story of British military deployments from Kosovo to Afghanistan. 

 

 

These are a few of the things that caught my eye (after I’d spent a few moments puzzling over the indoor brick wall):

1. In Kosovo, Maj. Smyth began making 2 minute YouTube videos and sending the URLs to journalists in Sarajevo to try to capture their interest. Putting these videos online meant they could also be viewed by military wives, girlfriends and families in the UK.

2. He says that in order to get coverage in national newspapers or on the BBC, he needed an "incredible story". But a blog allowed him to provide "behind the scenes" footage and to publish smaller stories for interested audiences on a regular basis.   

3. He targeted influential defence correspondents and outlets such as CNN’s i-Report spreading his news "footprint over a wider area".  

4. He describes how his blogging team inadvertently trumped the established news procedures of Buckingham Palace and the MoD Press Office.

The team had published a blog post revealing a visit by Princess Anne to Camp Bastion an hour too early. He claims the subsequent coverage of the post on the BBC and in The Times and The Telegraph "surprised a few people".