What I learned from milblogs

Well, folks, this is it – my last day as the Army’s social media manager. Boy, has it been a fun ride, and I’m proud to say that for a long time I had the best job in the Army.

My Army career has been pretty short. But I feel as though in the relatively brief amount of time I’ve been here I’ve packed in a lot of experiences, and made a number of great friendships and connections. It’s true of most people who leave the service, whether civilian or military – when you reflect on your time it will be the people who have made a difference.

My travels have given me the unique opportunity of meeting hundreds of amazing Soldiers stationed at military installations from coast to coast. I’ve met even more senior leaders who have a hand in forming policy decisions for our military. And many of those people have touched my life and helped to shape my professional vision, and my understanding of both social media and defense issues.

I’ve always said that milblogs were my first loves in the social media world. And that’s why starting this blog was a key goal when I first got the job of helping to steer the Army on course when it comes to social media. When I think of some of the greatest relationships I’ve formed and some of the most amazing people I’ve encountered in my time, many of them will be milbloggers.

That’s why as I write my final blog post for Army Live, I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you five things I learned from milbloggers – that I think would be good advice for just about anyone.

1. Never forget who you work for/serve. We in the Army work in a mission-oriented organization. And whether you write about military issues or you work for the Army, you have a constituency to serve. You serve them best by being honest, being committed to your values, and never forgetting that the goals of our Army extend beyond the walls of the Pentagon.

2. Love what you do. One of my favorite things about working with milbloggers, in particular, is the passion most of them bring to what they write about. They take things personally, and they really care about issues.

3. Network, network, network. A good blog can’t exist in a vacuum. Blogs thrive on comments, trackbacks, linking, and most of all a little love from your friends! Milbloggers know how to get out there and network with one another. And all of us in the military public affairs community, in particular, could stand to take advantage of a little more networking and intercommunication ourselves.

4. Don’t get mad. Get even. I admit – I got this one from my dad. But I’ve seen it in action in milblogs pretty frequently. Milbloggers don’t pull punches – they’ve even socked me a few times. But when push comes to shove they know how to fight for the truth – or their version of it. When things are black and white, bloggers will get the job done to reveal the truth of an issue – just ask Dan Rather. But even when things aren’t, they stand by their positions. Personal attacks definitely happen on a lot of blogs, but I’ve noticed that for my favorite milbloggers, they really take the time to articulate an issue and tell the truth, or their side of a story, well. And that’s not just getting mad and being an Internet troll, it’s doing what my dad always said – get even.

5. Give ’em hell. I think milbloggers like to consider themselves real truth and issues advocates. It’s why Blackfive was started and a key reason a number of milblogs got their start. This point directly links back to points one and two. When you care about what you’re doing and are focused on a bigger goal, it’s easier to go out there and challenge the status quo. The military, and everyone in government, needs the accountability provided by a free press. That’s why most public affairs specialists, including myself, love working with the media. Contrary to popular opinion, we know that if they do their job well, it serves our goal of telling our organization’s story. And when it comes to revealing issues or showing us when we need to do better, we appreciate it. It might not be pretty, but it’s probably just the medicine we need to do better for those we serve.

Well, that’s it. Find me on the Internet – I’ll always be there somewhere. And a special thank you again to all of those who have helped to make this job great, especially our Soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and points across the globe. It has always been a pleasure serving you.

 Much love,

Lindy Kyzer – your favorite blog wrangler