PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICERK
STACHURA: Our Canadian soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen are making history and we have the responsibility to tell Canadians what the military is doing out there.
CONDLY: We are the medium between our members in the field and the nation they serve. We’re Public Affairs Officers in the Canadian Forces.
I’m Captain Cheryl Condly from St-Albert, Alberta, Public Affairs Officer for 19 Wing Comox.
And I’m Captain Krzysztof Stachura, from Regina, Saskatchewan, Public Affairs Officer at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
CONDLY: Public Affairs Officers do two main things. One of them is manage information and the other is to provide advice to commanders. Within those two jobs, though, are many many aspects of what we do. We do communications with the external audience, we work with media, we do internal communications to let Canadian Forces members know new things that are going on, we participate and coordinate outreach activities, so that we’re really involved with the community.
STACHURA: When a brigade comes home from Afghanistan with lot of medals, I see my role as helping the soldiers tell people what it is the military REALLY does.
And not just communicating to the media, but also taking interest in going out to talk to schools, talking to key leadership groups about their experience. And we do fantastic stuff all over the world and people really want to hear about what it is that we do.
CONDLY: Whether it’s a dramatic search-and-rescue mission off the coast of Vancouver Island, our infantry on the offensive with our NATO partners in Afghanistan or a hat trick in the base hockey league, our role is the same: to help get out the story of the men and women who have volunteered to serve with the Canadian Forces.
Everybody has a story and everyone’s story deserves to be told. There’s so many incredibly interesting and professional people and I help get that story out to Canadians so they have a better understanding of us.
STACHURA: Public Affairs is one of those jobs where you have to be very self-sufficient. I think it’s important to have good oral and written communication skills. It’s important to feel comfortable dealing with reporters and with new people.
Where I am right now, I enjoy the daily interaction I get with the community and the media. It’s not only an office job but one that requires self-direction and I only have to report to one person on base. Not many junior officers have that open-door policy with the Brigade Commander where you can just walk in and talk about the important issues that are occupying your leader’s time.
CONDLY: You’re using all your journalistic skills to tell the biggest story in the world from an inside perspective -- working with national networks and local reporters, covering everything from VIP visits to multi-national operations, but also filing stories for the internal communication network.
Not every Canadian Forces member is a born communicator, but they all have something to say that Canadians need to hear and that’s where we come in.
STACHURA : There’s a lot of education, making people feel comfortable, getting people to understand that the goal is not to talk to the media, it’s to talk to PEOPLE and the media is only one way to get the message out there.
I tell people all the time that you should never be afraid to talk about what you do. Whether there’s a camera looking at you or not, it doesn’t change the way you do your job.
CONDLY: By now, you might be wondering how you can join us and become a professional military Public Affairs Officer. Well, if you’re a university graduate in journalism, communications or public relations -- or if you majored in another subject but have a good grasp of world events and good writing and public speaking skills -- you may be able to move directly into the Forces as a Commissioned Public Affairs Officer.
After you complete your Basic Officer Training, you’ll move on to a 6-month Public Affairs Officer course. That’s where you’ll learn the best way to tell the story of what the men and women of the Canadian Forces are doing here in Canada and overseas. And of course you’ll be collecting your full officer’s salary and all your benefits all the way through training and Public Affairs Officer school.
More than ever, we live in a media-dominated world. Knowing how to get the real story of our soldiers out to the Canadian public through all that noise and clutter is a great challenge and it’s also a great career.
Anyone who’s interested in journalism, in public relations, in communications, any of that type of work, I think would absolutely be interested in being a member of the Public Affairs team.
STACHURA: It’s a career that allows you to develop a relationship with commanders that most other jobs don’t let you have. If you like being autonomous and at the centre of the action all the time, then being a Public Affairs Officer might be just the challenge you’re looking for.