World Class Reference for Modern Information Operations (IO),
The book begins with “know your audience.” I consider this very important, because the normal American approach to both Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication is “who cares what they think, just give them our message.” The author excels at including religious and cultural influences in his treatise on evaluating the audience and its interests **in order to be relevant and in order to connect.** I have said this before, but this author says it better: if you do not understand the psychology and sociology of your audience, you will NOT be able to communicate any message to them with credibility or “stickiness.”
The book segues to “finding common ground” and then spends an entire chapter on the importance of listening. I am reminded of the book on Iraq, “Squandered Victory,” whose most important point was that we failed to listen to anyone in Iraq as we planned and executed our invasion and subsequent “liberation” which most Iraqis now appear to see as “occupation.”
Fully a third of the book focuses on what can only be considered to be “intelligence preparation of the battlefield,” i.e. know your audience before you even *begin* to conceptualize a message that achieves common ground and desired outcomes. The author then moves on to the message, spending over 60 pages on the minutia of developing the topic, the purpose, and the content. The author excels at both suggesting useful forms of documentation to increase credibility, and useful forms of organization to increase effectiveness of delivery. The author concludes this section of the book with an excellent discussion of how to achieve and leverage “shared values.”
Finally, and very much last, the author focuses on the speaker, and how to craft a self-image that is welcomed by the audience. One is reminded of the military spokespeople in combat fatigues, sending their message to the US audience, but portraying an entirely different message to the indigenous audience by simple virtue of being in combat fatigues. Following this section the author focuses on mechanics, with details on visuals, on making “high-stakes” presentations, and includes a check-list for getting it right.
The book concludes with a final chapter on meeting ethical standards. This is the section that confirmed my already strong view that this author is a superb practitioner and teacher. He understands the tangible value of telling the truth and holding the best interests of the audience foremost in mind.
Although this book was written as a college text, and is superb for its intended function, in my personal view most US diplomats and most US military officers have not received in-depth training of this nature, and I regard this book as a superb adult self-study manual that will significantly enhance the professionalism and the achievements of any information operations professional.