Media Facilitation Plan Worksheet
by CPT Christopher C. Garver, Public Affairs Observer/Controller,
Recent operations in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia
have demonstrated that media presence is an inescapable condition
of the modern battlefield. FM 100-6, Information Operations,
acknowledges the importance of telling the Army story: "DoD
and Army policy for principles of combat coverage require Army
commanders to provide open and independent coverage by the news
media as the standard means of providing the American public
information about the employment and capabilities of their armed
forces." FM 100-6 further charges all commanders
and leaders with "preparing their soldiers to effectively
deal with the media before, during, and after all operations."
At most echelons below division level, the commander has
no special staff to address public affairs issues. This does
not relieve the commander of public affairs responsibilities,
as "often, brigade and smaller units have to house, support,
and escort reporters." Units must, therefore, be trained
and ready to support media personnel and tell the Army story
without the benefit of public affairs specialists present.
Facilitating the media’s efforts to get their story
may at times be distracting and a drain of resources. The
commander with a well-defined information strategy, however,
will recognize the media event for what it is: a chance to
tell the unit’s and the Army’s story through the
media to the American public.
The following Media Facilitation Planning Worksheet (MFPW)
is a tool to assist units without organic Public Affairs personnel
in planning media facilitation operations.
PART ONE: MISSION ANALYSIS
Part one of the MFPW captures the unit’s planning
guidance for planning a media facilitation operation. This
parallels mission analysis of the Military Decision-Making
The first block defines the commander’s intent
for the media operation. The commander’s intent drives
the entire operation and should answer the questions, "What
do we want the media to take away from the operation? What
do we want to end up in the news?" These should be presented
as themes, which can be found in the current Public Affairs
Guidance and Information Operations annexes to the ongoing
operation. Themes from higher headquarters should be applied
specifically to the unit to assist personnel in staying in
their lane. As a basic planning factor, a company can reinforce
one to two themes, a battalion can reinforce two to four,
and a brigade can reinforce three to five. This block also
lists the higher headquarters’ Public Affairs representatives,
who should be queried for additional support and guidance.
The second block is for the reporters the unit expects to
arrive. This information comes from higher headquarters’
Public Affairs representatives, Fragmentary Orders, unit Situation
Reports, and personal experience.
PART TWO: COURSE OF ACTION DEVELOPMENT
Part Two of the MFPW elaborates the unit’s media facilitation
operation. This correlates to course-of-action development
of the Military Decision-Making Process.
Each event listed in the final itinerary reinforces in some
way one of the themes listed in the commander’s intent.
Units reinforce themes in two ways: with interviews, or who
talks to the media, and with photo opportunities, or what
we show the media. Remember that this is a proposed
itinerary the unit will offer to the media upon their arrival
– specific media requests for information may force
alterations at the last minute.
The proposed interviews the unit will offer to the media
are selected to reinforce at least one of the themes in the
commander’s intent. Soldiers should be selected to participate
in interviews with the intent of discussing specific events.
Ensure that media operation planners who select a soldier
to speak to the media inform that soldier exactly why he or
she was selected – let soldiers know that it is okay
to talk about the events we expect them to discuss. Use ten
to fifteen minutes per interview as a planning factor, though
more time should be allocated for larger media groups. Commanders
should provide overviews and reinforce all or most of the
Proposed photo opportunities are also selected to reinforce
the themes of the commander’s intent. Review the events
during planning with a discerning eye – ensure they
present the proper professional image of the unit and the
Army. Photo opportunities should assist the reporter in defining
the unit in the news. It is difficult for the press to publish
a story about an armor battalion without photographs or a
video of tanks. Photo opportunities must also be related to
the themes they will reinforce; a photo opportunity of a unit’s
mess hall operations will probably not reinforce a theme of
the unit’s combat readiness.
These interview and photo opportunities are synchronized
into a proposed itinerary. Ensure necessary resources, such
as an armed escort to provide convoy security, are coordinated
to support the operation. Identify any operational security
concerns in the "notes" column, so unit media escorts
have an OPSEC quick reference. Ensure soldiers responsible
for particular events receive a copy of the itinerary.
PART THREE: EXECUTION
Ensure the finished plan is disseminated throughout the
command. Consider "what’s the news" in the
unit area. Wargame possible questions the reporters may ask,
and identify appropriate answers to those questions. As time
permits, conduct backbriefs, rehearsals, and murder boards
of identified interviewees to prepare them for difficult issues.
When the media arrives, expedite their passage through any
unit security procedures. Offer the proposed itinerary to
the media and determine if they have any additional requests
for information – these additional requests may cause
adjustments to the itinerary.
At the end of the operation, report the results to higher
headquarters. The report should consist of who the media was,
what they asked, what the unit said, and a general impression
of the overall result of the operation.
A unit cannot control the final product of an interview,
which is the resulting news piece. It can affect its development,
however, as everything the unit does with the media will positively
or negatively influence the story. The unit with an effective
Media Facilitation Plan can positively influence the reporter’s
story and win another battle in the information war.