Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Anyone who has ever written about the military or has had the opportunity to work with its procurement apparatus might find this NPR story sad but amusing.

To all those who have tasted my famous GWOT brownies, I assure you my baking process is slightly different.  How mine last fresh and intact for up to four weeks, though, is my own little secret.

(Thanks to my colleague Eric Rosenberg for the fabulous lead.)

Today I got stuck in the Ogilvy elevators for one hour, ten minutes. Does anyone remember the LA Law episode where Roslyn fell down the elevator shaft? Or in Speed when the elevator fell 50+ floors? All I kept thinking was, “I survived the 50-foot rappel wall on Parris Island, I can certainly get through this minor trauma.”

God bless the Marines.

Today in NYC, I had the opportunity to talk about my week with Special Ops with one of my largest clients.  I mentioned that one insight I learned was hat the military is really a microcsim of society at large.  I spoke with medics, specialists in veterinary medicine, a weatherman, an historian and even a chef.  For every position in the private sector, there seems to be ne in the Service as well.

I particularly enjoyed meeting my counterparts in Public Affairs.  I appreciated Lt. j.g. Ryan White of the U.S. Coast Guard speaking so candidly with me about the events of September 11, 2009, when a Coast Guard training exercise got misinterpreted by CNN and launched quite the false story. I also enjoyed meeting Steve Valley with USCENTCOM, who I sat next to while at JOC Communications.  Steve wrote a book called “Inside the Fortress” about his year in Iraq that I plan to purchase.  (And I haven’t forgotten your promise to autograph it for me in exchange for some of my GWOT brownies.) 

It sure would be neat if JCOC would consider pairing up its civilian attendees with their military counterparts, even if just for a few minutes.  I think we’d all find similiarities to share, and might even exchange one or two ideas of practical usage in each of our respective worlds.

We’re really not that different from each other, after all.  And that might be one of the greatest lessons I took from this great event.

Here’s a tangible example that complements yesterday’s post on the non-violent, goodwill efforts being made by our troops in Afghanistan.

My friend Sean Rohe works in Afghanistan for Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Ralph Beam. CSM Beam is fairly new to the NATO Training Mission (NTM) and a couple of months ago was touring the area. He noticed that the Afghan children play with old, beat-up, dirty soccer balls.  Sometimes a volley ball substitutes for the real thing.  

CSM Beam really wanted to do something for these kids and, through Sean, I got involved.  My good friend Maureen Pfeil and my sister Nancy Omonte mined their soccer networks and the wonderful people of the soccer world responded.  DC United sent 100 children’s t-shirts, stickers and cardboard fans shaped like soccer balls.  The Youth Soccer Club of Immokalee, Florida sent four boxes stuffed with soccer balls, air pumps, uniforms, t-shirts and shoes.  I’m especially proud of the donation from this last group because these kids come from a very underserved section of Florida and have many of the same needs as the children in Afghanistan.  For them to give so generously speaks volumes. 

The Afghan children are going to love everything that was sent out and will use every last fan, t-shirt, fan. soccer ball, pair of shorts and other clothing.  Some day, these kids will be their country’s leaders.  And they’ll remember the people who gave them these items.  But for right now, I’m just touched by a couple of Army soldiers thinking of ways to improve the lives of little kids in a far-off land.

csm-views-training Army CSM Ralph Beam (right) of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan is collecting soccer balls and equipment to share with Afghan kids.   A super generous idea and if any readers would like to donate to this cause, please reach out to me via the comment section.

Yesterday, Ogilvy PR hosted James Miller, the principal deputy under secretary of Defense for Policy as part of our Ogilvy Exchange series of speeches featuring top leaders in government on national security issues.  He spoke about the new U.S. Cyber Command and how it would operate, both in offensive and defensive capacities.  The fact that made me sit up and take notice was that more than 100 foreign intelligence services, along with organized crime, are working to gain to access to U.S. government computer networks everyday.

We will post a video of his entire speech shortly, but we wanted to post some press clips about the speech to give you a taste of what he said.

Here is the Associated Press story.

Here is the Reuters story.

The Government Computer News story is here.

Finally, significant  portions of the speech were excerpted in a story that ran on Federal News Radio (WFED-AM) here in Washington.  You can read a transcript of their story at this link.

Kudos to my colleague, Eric Rosenberg, for putting together another successful program.

I’d like to call out a really smart comment from General Cichowski to a post from last week. He wrote, “…while we did show the kinetic aspects of our power, it is the indirect approach, the working with the host nation’s people that will ‘win the peace.’ We cannot kill our way out of an insurgency and the great people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other nations we work with don’t want, or need it. It is only working with them, to bring better government, better social, health, economic, and quality of life aspects that we will be able to ensure a better state of peace for them, and ultimately, us.”

This message is a very important one – and one that should not be lost in the “wow factor” of the week. USSOCOM head Admiral Olson emphasized that “non-violent activities add value to the American presence.” An article by LTG John Mulholland, Commander of U.S. Army Special Ops, calls this an “investment line of action.” The Army trains for this (building alliances through cooperative tactics) and we were fortunate to see some role-playing between American Service members and “local natives” as part of the Robin Sage capabilities exercise.

General Cichowski is right. Nobody likes a bully. Machiavellan tactics serve a purpose, but they cannot win “hearts and minds.”

In the midst of the firepower, that’s an important message that should not be forgotten.

With General Cichowski, departing Hurlburt Field, Florida With General Cichowski prior to departing Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida

One of our fabulous Air Force crew shared this five-minute video with me.  It includes some amazing things that the C-17 transport plane can do in all sorts of weather.  It’s accompanied by a song called “Anytime, Anywhere” which pretty much sums up the mission of the C-17. 

 our-plane2 (This was “our” C-17.)

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the entire crew.  So professional and operated as a real team.  On the last day, we deplaned and I realized that I had forgotten to thank two of the pilots.  I asked Major Marc Greene, who I believe was the “crew chief” (and also a pilot) if I could at least wave my thanks to them in the cockpit.  Turns out they weren’t in the cockpit.  They were in the back of the plane, helping the rest of the team unload the luggage and get the C-17 ready for the next trip.  Now that’s teamwork. 

Snaps to these guys: Major Todd Mercer, 1Lt Zachary Walrond, 1Lt Zachary Spencer, MSgt Joseph Sampson, SSgt Marc Failing, TSgt Brad Goehrig, Major Marc Greene.

More photos from Army Day. 

marie-sniper-b Just what everyone wants to see.  Marie Manning, trained sniper.  Here I am shooting a WinMag.  I went three for three up to 400 meters on this rifle.

marie-sniper-c Hit all six targets on this sniper rifle. Just take a deep breath, blow out, put your target in the crosshairs and pull the trigger.  Of course, it’s a lot more complicated in the field than in this controlled environment.

purloined-mres I scavenged as many MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) as possible.  More filling and better tasting than a Lean Cuisine…and fewer calories!  I tried meatloaf and chicken with noodles.  Loved them.

 incoming-helicopters  This helicopter flew overhead during a training exercise we observed.  Note the soldiers hanging over the side preparing to launch.  They make it look so easy.  It’s not.

rapelling-from-a-helo Soldiers rapelling out of a Chinook onto a building teeming with insurgents.

red-sage-exercise Battling insurgents.

special-forces-enter-and-aquire-house Searching a house.  Soldiers practice these drills repeatedly for several reasons.  It not only helps them know exactly what to do when it’s “for real” but it also helps contain the adreneline when one has done this 20+ times already.

our-rescue-chopper Peering out the “back door” of my Chinook at one of the other two choppers who picked us up after the successful rescue attempt.

protecting-the-hostages1 Always on guard.  This is a soldier guarding the Chinook.  He never took his eyes off his task, even with 15 of us chattering excitedly away in the back of the Chinook. 


A few photos from our final day of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. Special thanks for this day goes to the Air Force for providing superb representation of its forces at breakfast and the Army for, well, being the greatest Team at JCOC 79.

battle-wound Red Badge of Courage?  Or simply a mark of foolishness?  This is what happens when one falls off a swinging rope at Parris Island into a ditch.

marie-and-genl-kurt With the fabulous General Kurt Chichowski, Vice Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command.  He invited several members of his team to breakfast.  I sat with a weatherman whose job is not only to forecast, but, more importantly, use environmental conditions to determine tactical solutions.  For example, where to drop the skydivers (civilian term, I know) or at what altitude/distance to push the supplies out the plane so they land in the correct spot. 

marie-and-genl-fiel With General Fiel, U.S. Special Operations Command, Chief of Staff.  Gave up his schedule for a week to travel with us and answer all of our questions very clearly and with great patience.  Told us, “The military has special people and so do you.  You have to invest in your people and have trust and confidence in them.”  When it comes down to it, there are a great deal of similarities between the people of the military and the people of the private sector…except in the training.  And that’s reflected in the skill and discipline we saw thoughout the week.

team-army Team Army, always leading the charge. 

team-army-captain-presentation Presenting MSGT Christine Thompson, Team Army’s captain, with a cap signed by the members of Team Army.  Just what she needs…another green hat!

best-team-captain-ever  Christine totally rocked.  Not the least reason being that she figured out that a light tap was all it took to get me to stop babbling away and run for the bus, enabling an on-time departure.

luggage-packed-and-ready-to-go Very quickly after landing, the rear of the aircraft would rise so that the luggage could be quickly unloaded.  This technique also afforded spectacular views of the airfield.

naomi-gets-us-f18s Naomi Dorren of Marine Corps Community Relations swore she got us these F-18’s to send us off.  I also think it was a reward for successfully completing the first two minutes of Recruit Training at Parris Island and not breaking our necks while rappelling.  Thanks Naomi! 

To come this week: The resurgence of Marie Manning’s Top 10 Quotes.  More participant photos.  Blog links.  And much, much more.

It looks like even Lloyd Blankfein has realized that some of Goldman’s PR woes were self-inflicted.  The admission came on Friday’s Charlie Rose. For those of you who don’t want to watch the full hour, PR Newser has a three-paragraph summary that pretty much sums it up….

At Ogilvy PR, we regularly meet with various think tanks and NGOs to talk about the key issues of the day.  Two weeks ago, we met with a representative of an environmental NGO to talk about the possibility that climate change legislation would pass in 2010 (this was before Sen. Lindsey Graham pulled out of the discussions).  While the representative kept to his talking points during the session (it was off the record, so I can’t say who or what organization), he indicated afterward  that even he thought the chances that the legislation would pass during the current Congress were very small in part because of the decline of U.S. public support for global climate change as a political priority.  Since then, the hits to his cause have kept coming.

Today, the InterAcademy Panel announced that it had selected the people who will begin its investigation of the activities of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The InterAcademy Panel is made up of the presidents of 15 academies of science and similar organizations from various countries. The council plans to deliver a peer-reviewed report to the United Nations by August 30 on the activities of the Panel, which won the Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore for its work on climate change.  According to The Wall Street Journal:

The committee will review various aspects of how the IPCC’s assessment reports are compiled, including the sourcing and quality of data used, the handling of a full range of scientific views, and the procedure for correcting errors after a report has been published.

The IPCC’s work has been questioned of late, both because of the Climategate e-mails and a number of embarrassing retractions it has been forced to issue.  As a result, support for the panel’s work has slipped — not just in the United States, but around the world.  The German news weekly Der Spiegel ran a good analysis of global reaction to the challenges that the IPCC has faced of late. The magazine’s teaser paragraph:

Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?

As a result, it increasingly looks that the chances that there will be meaningful action on climate change in the near future are remote.  CQ today reported on the ramifications at least in the United States….

Finally, China last week that it was launching its own global 24-hour English language news channel to compete with CNN International and BBC World and to a lesser extent al-Jazeera English and France’s mostly English audience.  It will launch on July 1.  This follows the Chinese government’s launch of an Arab language channel last year.  The goal of the channel is to present global news from a Chinese point-of-view.  According to AP:

“CNC will offer an alternative source of information for a global audience and aims to promote peace and development by interpreting the world in a global perspective,” Xinhua quoted its President Li Congjun as telling a launching ceremony in Beijing.

In recent years, China has announced multibillion-dollar plans to raise the profile of state media abroad by expanding Xinhua, state broadcaster China Central Television and the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

Chinese authorities have expressed disapproval of much of the international coverage of sensitive events in China such as human rights. They accuse international media organizations of being biased and focusing on negative news.

Assuming that a U.S. cable system or satellite programmer picks up the channel (remember the problems that al-Jazerra had and continues to have in getting picked up in the United States), it will be interesting to see how the Chinese cover the world and, perhaps more importantly, whether the channel gets any traction here and abroad.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide