Deadly Smartphones

The military is probably the most threatened organization by the digital revolution. This is one of the main reasons why today’s militaries across the world, though pushing for rapid technological advancement, remain as primitive as they possibly can when it comes to basic telecommunications.

I can’t begin to describe how frustrating it ishomeland security not to be able to use a flash drive, a Gmail account or connect an outlook address to a phone. I mean, come on, this is the military, no?

The Israeli military, for example, is in the midst of upgrading its staff’s cell phones to the latest iOS and Android models. Knowing that high speed internet connections and high resolution cameras,

as well as personal involvement in social media networks come with a high risk to national security, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an extensive awareness campaign along with rewriting its telecom field intelligence doctrines.

Before you is an inside look at the advertising campaign which has already been shared via military diplomacy channels, with counterparts around the world who are facing the same challenges:

Who is the Target Audience? instagram for diplomacy

The military, in Israel as well as all over the world, is a client which heavily restricts the advertising agency in all its departments, which definitely has its toll on the creative department but at the same time, poses a great challenge to produce excellent results that is memorable and truly penetrates the target audience. The campaign was intended for the senior officers of the Israel Defense Forces, as part of the organized transition to smart phones in the use of military personnel. The campaign ran in the various military bases and concentrated mostly on print and related BTL materials, as part of a nationwide information campaign scope.

Maintaining Maximum Minimalism

The specific target audience of this campaign was mostly officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. The underlying assumption was that the target audience is intelligent and that we have to touch a nerve in order to get to them, while striving to maintain maximum twiplomacyminimalism. The response of the Israel Defense Forces officers was very positive resulted in minimal violations of the regulations imposed by the IDF’s Information Security Department. When addressing soldiers, it is best to use terminology relevant to the military world, therefore the smart phone applications were turned into “arms” in order to convey the message that media can serve as a “weapon” if used incorrectly.

The audience is asked “not to point it at us” (i.e to be used under the proper Field Security regulations). A simple message, precise and visually clear backed with a wink and used in slang and updated lingo.

Sense and Sensibility

With technological progress and endless media options available today comes the major challenge of keeping information secure, a severe problem for an organization of high sensitivity as IDF intelligence. Israel Defense Forces, like many western armies around the world, upgraded to smart mobile phone use by officers in order to improve communication within the military. The main challenge faced by military officials after this move, is the prevention of leakage of confidential content and classified information. As part of coping with the challenge, the IDF contacted a well known advertising company in request to produce a campaign highlighting the phone’s weak spots in relation to information security.

In a country like Israel, where security issues are particularly sensitive, the importance of a wide- ranged campaign was gravely important. In addition to the campaign, a special PR team was established to hop between bases to provide workshops on the subject. Ideological concept of the campaign – the smart phone is a weapon. Do not point it against us.

Known icons from the app world, smart phones and social networks were given a visual twist making them resemble weapons, thus visually iphone killssharpening the sense of danger.

The campaign was well received by the officers and soldiers. It ran in all IDF units (though the initial thought was to run the campaign strictly in the Intelligence Corps). In addition, the campaign was presented to senior intelligence officers of other countries military organizations who as a result, will be adapting the method, namely the Italian and American armies.

I recently visited my old base, reporting for reserve duty, and indeed, the posters are up everywhere: Twitters cute little bird dropping a bomb, Instagram’s lens zoning in on a target, Facebook’s F is holding a gun and so many more little deathly adaptations of icons. At times visually forced but overall very cute and effective.

Too bad they can’t spread them on a banner due to security restrictions…

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Trying to Define Digital Diplomacy

Being in the field of digital diplomacy, talking about it and wanting to write about it has driven me to Google ‘digital diplomacy definition’ every once in a while. Guess what. Every time I do it, I come across the same things:

  1. An opening sentence that reads ” There is yet and official definition for digital diplomacy” (mine included)
  2. “The differences between diplomacy and digital diplomacy are…”
  3. Stories and articles by or about professionals who engage citizens in the name of the government via their own websites and social media networks.

At first I thought it to be the fact that the field is still in its infancy and that no one is ready to set something in stone when it is still crystallizing. Interestingly enough, even the ancient practice of defense/military diplomacy doesn’t yet have an official definition.

I am in no position to try to define digital diplomacy. But I do hope that by sharing some of my thoughts I will be able to contribute to the work process of whoever steps up to the challenge and is accepted by most.

Let’s take a look at a few simplistic definitions of diplomacy and see if and how digital diplomacy applies to them.

Diplomacy:

  • The art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.
  • A process of conducting activities with tact in order to bring about good relationships.

Public Diplomacy:

Any of the ways in which a country or organization communicates with citizens in other societies as opposed to diplomacy carried out between 2 or more national governments.

Defense and Military Diplomacy:

Peaceful application of military and defense resources to contribute to the development and maintenance of a country’s foreign relations via attachés who help facilitate agreements, treaties, visits joint drills and other forms of peaceful military engagement.

Given those definitions, is it safe to say that digital diplomacy is a form of public diplomacy in which a government engages citizens in other societies? Yes.

Can we also say that it is a means to facilitate activities (‘with tact’) in order to bring about good relations between countries? Yes.

Can it also be said that peaceful application of military resources to the development and maintenance of a country’s foreign relations can also include secure online portals, messaging, instant messaging, forums and information shares? Yes.

Can we also include a government’s engagement with its own citizens, as well as UN and consular corps diplomats’ online engagements into this whole one-to-many conversation? Yes.

I don’t want to get too wordy, but I did promise to dig deep… So I will be taking these definitions apart separately in future blog posts. Hopefully giving more answers than posing questions.