News: UPAR: Public affairs cliff notes
FORT HUNTER-LIGGETT, Calif- - Units across the Combat Support Training Exercise sent soldiers to the 364th Public Affairs Operation Center at Fort Hunter-Liggett to learn the cliff notes version of Army public affairs with the Unit Public Affairs Representative training in July 2012.
Every unit should have a UPAR. “It gives the unit (a) face. It allows them to go out and interact with the community and really touch base with them and it lets the taxpayers know that their money is going towards something that’s valid,” said Sgt. Clifford E. Coy II, with the 364th PAOC, one of the UPAR training instructors.
Coy and Sgt. 1st Class Aaron J. Salzer, also with the 364th PAOC, taught soldiers how to market their units to the world by publishing photos, videos and stories through print, social media and media relations. Publishing photos on social media and aiding the local media are two ways they instruct UPARs to get the story out.
This is not Coy or Salzer’s first go round training UPARs. They were both instructors of training the 364th held for the 372nd Engineer Brigade last year. Now they’ve opened the class for any interested units participating in the CSTX 91, here.
The units sent lower enlisted, mainly, and junior officers to attend the training. There is no rank requirement to be a UPAR, but there are some personality preferences.
“They should have a good ability to speak to people, kind of be personable,” said Coy.
UPARs need more than an outgoing personality. They take pictures, write news stories and help outside media cover the unit’s story. Basically, they get the word out about what the unit is doing.
Salzer talked to the soldiers about how to help outside media get their story. Escorting the media was his primary job during his deployments to Iraq in 2003-2004 and Kosovo in 2004-2005. He dealt with over 3,000 media agents in his 16 years as a public affairs specialist.
“The biggest thing is understanding who they are, and what they want, and making sure that you do whatever it takes for them to get a good story,” said Salzer
Though most external journalists are pretty respectful of the rules, Salzer has come in contact with some who had their credentials revoked for unauthorized behavior. Salzer explains the UPAR’s responsibility when a journalist crosses the line.
“Their job is basically to stop the journalist from gaining access, and then report it to the chain of command,” said Salzer.
Coy introduced the Home Town News Release forms containing soldier information which can help UPARs provide interviewees for the media. The release form is essentially permission to the command that helps, both the command and the soldiers, determine whether they can be contacted by the media.
Coy’s other subjects gave a quick run through of story and cutline writing, interrupted by a bright yellow projection reminding UPARS that every one of their products must go through the unit’s Public Affairs Office.
The release requirement includes most, but not all, information on a unit’s official social media page, like Facebook. Facebook is an example of the many social media sites that help UPARs reach soldiers’ families and community members.
The families and home towns can follow their soldiers and follow what their soldiers are doing on social media. It shows promotions, family days and other events that don’t always make it into the papers, said Coy.
“Photography is a skill that should definitely be learned as a UPAR, as most of commands expect the UPAR to be the unit photographer,” said Coy.
When it comes to photography Coy’s advice is probably worth taking. His photos have been published in the Bridge magazine, Warrior Magazine, the Army Times and the AKO home page. Last year a photo he took at a Best Warrior Competition was nominated for U.S. Army Reserve Command best photo for 2011.
As Coy went through some of his pictures to show the basics of photography, his laser pointer pinpointed the principle on each photo. The red light bouncing about the screen caught the attention of drifting students.
“We’d be taking pictures and uploading them for our unit, like for family day,” is what Sgt. Larkesha T. Davis with the 90th Support Battalion said she was told her duties would be, before she attended the UPAR training.
To keep them lively, Coy gave the soldiers hands-on experience with the cameras after some basic photography instructions.
“I don’t like to give them death by power point,” said Coy.
In lieu of projections for every detail, he gives the UPARs the resources they need. Students were given a disc that contained social media release guidelines AR360-1 and AR530-1, the UPAR handbook, the UPAR class power point production and UPAR quick tips to take back to their unit.
Instead of conducting a stoic, unengaging and regulation-filled course, Coy and Salzer had a conversation with students clarifying all the aspects of being a UPAR and its importance to the Army.
“They’re gonna end up being the people who put out the Army story, and that is the most important story. When you break it down, I guess the Army story is the Soldier’s story and at the unit level, what better place is there to get the soldier’s story,” said Coy.
Date Posted:07.21.2012 21:35
Location:FORT HUNTER LIGGETT , CA, US
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