Norfolk Naval Shipyard – Public Relations Audit


Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) is the oldest and largest shipyard in the nation and has operated under five jurisdictions —British, Virginia Colonial, United States, State of Virginia and Confederate States*. They have a large and diverse workforce ranging from senior engineers to mechanics in their repair facility.

NNSY is also the largest employer in Portsmouth, VA.

The command was going through internal turmoil and having difficulty communicating to a wide variety of constituents.  Their most challenging audience being the waterfront workforce, but internal communication throughout the command and external communication with media were not effective.

The shipyard had just replaced a public affairs officer who had been in the position for many years and hired an experienced and competent manager who nevertheless did not have public affairs/communication experience. Many burned bridges needed repairing.

Vox Optima was hired to perform a public affairs assessment, provide mentoring, training and produce a strategic communication plan and recommended way ahead for the public affairs team.


Vox Optima conducted a thorough communication audit, speaking with command leadership at every level, from the command group to the senior enlisted advisor and most of the department heads for the command.  Additionally, we conducted interviews with numerous waterfront workers, who were identified as a primary communication target.

We conducted interviews in a manner which helped the new Public Affairs Officer develop credibility, rapport and future support with the leadership team.  We identified key areas of focus for internal and external communication and conducted an in-depth training and mentoring session with the PAO and his team.

Vox Optima developed a thorough and actionable communication strategy that offered guidelines with metrics to identify success in execution.


The new NNSY has developed solid relationships with the command leadership.  While there continue to be communication challenges in some areas, significant progress has been made.  Technology has been a challenge and steps have been made to correct that with the installation of Vox Optima-managed digital signage.

NNSY has not only improved their internal information program, their media relations program and network in the public affairs community has seen significant improvement.