Air Force makes social media a priority

Public Affairs department shifts from traditional outreach to Facebook, Twitter.

Public Affairs department shifts from traditional outreach to Facebook, Twitter

Thursday: Meet with boss about quadrupling size of social media team

Friday: Start Facebook page for Air Force Public Affairs

Monday: Learn how to use Twitter

That’s how the past few weeks looked for Lt. Col. Mike Paoli, the chief of media and opinion leader engagement for the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. Paoli is a 19-year veteran who spent 12 years doing crisis communications with host nations during five overseas tours.

He’s the guy to have talking to the press when a plane goes down or an airman commits a crime, but until recently he was unschooled in social media.

At the beginning of February, Paoli’s boss, Maj. Gen. Darren McDew, announced plans to reorganize Air Force Public Affairs (AFPA) to make social media a priority.

“The Air Force is simply getting with the program, so we don’t get left behind,” says Paoli.

In the coming months, 12 public affairs officers will shift from traditional media to join the Air Force’s Emerging Technologies branch. That’s in addition to the four already assigned to social media, who started last year. Overall the Air Force has about 100 public affairs staffers at the Pentagon.

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