Navy Office Of Information – Crisis Planning & Execution

Challenges

The U.S. Navy faced lawsuits and criticism over perceived effects of sonar on the marine environment and other environmental issues. Litigation and public perception threatened to affect the Navy’s ability to conduct realistic training and other operations in at-sea training ranges on both coasts.

Various Navy commands, in coordination with the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO), have worked to present accurate public information on how sound affects the marine environment and life. CHINFO, which oversees public affairs efforts for the Navy, sought help in this work.

Great White Fleet in the Straits of Magellan by Patrick O'Brien.  Image courtesy Mystic Seaport

Great White Fleet in the Straits of Magellan by Patrick O'Brien.  Image courtesy Mystic Seaport

Additionally, CHINFO needed help in its efforts to commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet, the collection of battleships that demonstrated the strength of the Navy by circumnavigating the globe between 1907 and 1909. Ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt as a display of national unity and strength, the voyage the Great White Fleet is a singular, celebrated event in naval history.

Solutions

Vox Optima was chosen to help the Navy public affairs efforts in these two areas due to the company’s depth of experience in the areas of civilian and Navy public affairs, marketing, writing, video production, event planning, media training, and crisis communications planning and execution.

Vox Optima worked closely with several elements of the U.S. Navy team, including CHINFO, the U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Office, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and subject matter experts throughout the Navy and at associated research organizations. A plan of action and milestones (POA&M) was developed as a game plan for completing work on an aggressive schedule of seven months.

Vox Optima’s innovative telework model allowed us to offer superior service from personnel around the country, despite limited access to U.S. Navy computers. Personnel skilled in event planning and crisis communications planned, organized and executed a first-of-its-kind conference support for the Marine Mammal Risk Communication Workshop. Vox Optima facilitated everything from the hotels and venue, a social cocktail reception, as well as the presentations that helped the Navy develop a coordinated risk-communication plan on this important issue.

Drawing on in-house experience researching information on Navy environmental issues, Vox Optima helped develop information and fact sheets on marine mammal research and sonar mitigation efforts.  Personnel also conducted media training with subject matter experts so they were prepared to deliver the Navy’s message and provide public information to the press.

Vox Optima produced an outdoor display, brochure and press releases stories to help communicate the Navy’s position with regard to sonar and marine mammals, as well as discussing the Navy’s new maritime strategy. Vox Optima evaluated the Navy’s current environmental Web strategy and provided recommendations for integrating and improving the communications efforts.  Our team also provided two video scripts with accompanying storyboards and budget requirements for the production of a video to help the Navy explain the need for mid-frequency active sonar.

Vox Optima helped coordinate the extremely successful Great White Fleet commemoration exhibit at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.  This exhibit required coordination between the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, the Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard, the Navy Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Md., and the Columbus Foundation in New York. Personnel helped research, select images, write cutlines and prepare informational placards, as well as secure ship models and artifacts for the 2,000 square-foot exhibit.

Outcomes

Vox Optima helped the U.S. Navy Chief of Information develop a more comprehensive plan for addressing the sensitive issue of marine mammal research and sonar use. The risk communications workshop provided the Navy with an integrated approach for responding to the next incident of marine mammal stranding.

Vox Optima helped the Navy provide thousands of Americans with information on the history and heritage of the Great White Fleet. The Great White Fleet Exhibit was a huge success, receiving kudos from the Secretary of the Navy himself. Vox Optima provided a framework for measuring the effectiveness of outreach events such as Navy and Fleet Weeks.