Blogpost / An iPhone for every PAO

  • mikecnicholson
  • apple . Blogpost . flickr . iphone . smartphone . youtube .

If I were the Public Affairs King for a day, that is what I would do. Every Officer, NCO and Soldier working in Public Affairs would get an iPhone. Here are some reasons why:

Reason #1: Imagery. Always able to have the ability to get still photos and/or video. 3 megapixels on the iPhone ain’t bad. 5 megapixels on the some of the current Android phones is even better. Yes, we can have a small digital camera in our pocket,  but it will not let you upload your photos/videos instantaneously to Flickr or Youtube. It also beats carrying around multiple devices to include the video camera with associated gear which alone takes up a large rucksack.

Reason #2: Audio. We’re always looking for an MP3 recorder for that interview anyway. After you have finished the print interview, throw the audio online and put a link to it at the end of the article.

Reason #3: Geotagging. Your photos can be thrown on a map so that people can know where and when an event took place. It would be very easy to have an interactive map with photos and videos of events at their actual site. A OPSEC Officer’s nightmare, but if properly done, great for us communicators. There are also lots of location-based applications that are quickly becoming the norm.

Reason #4: Real-time video stream. Qik is a live-streaming website for your mobile phone. You can go to the website and watch people filming various events live as it happens. If we had our iPhone, we could do live interviews any time we wanted. By the way, they keep all the clips online so if you don’t happen to see it ‘live’, you can see it at a later date.

Reason #5: Access to online hard drive. Something like I have lots of professional items on my personal computer, but since I dont want to lug a MacPro desktop around, or even an external hard drive, would be nice to access an online hard drive when needed. Even an AKO online drive(??)

Reason #6: Email/Tethering. As a PAO, I would love to work strictly off my AKO email all the time and have a normal, commercial internet line at work. How many times is the network down at your work? They’ve updated patches, they’ve updated this, they’ve changed that, all of which causes your system to go down. Hearing someone scream “The network is down!” or “Outlook is down!” is an every-day occurrence it seems wherever I happen to be stationed. Tried to watch a movie clip just today but cant because I don’t have Quicktime, and I need to go ask permission to get it installed. Tethering your phone to your laptop would allow you to have internet access whenever you wanted, either on the phone or on a laptop, and enable us to update posts,, your unit website, or any of your social media sites from the field immediately. It also breaks us away from those .mil network administrators that are determined to tell us where we can and cannot communicate.

Reason#7: Real-time social media interaction. Best Buy has employees working on social media sites on the job answering questions in between customers via BestBuyConnect. Giving hundreds of PAOs the ability to communicate in real-time to people in a variety of networks is a good thing.

Reason #8: Video Conferencing. There are lots of video conferencing sites out there, but check out Wetoku. We can have an interviewee sharing the Army story with any interviewer while sitting in front of the PAOs iPhone.

Reason #9: The PAO application. OK, as long as Im dreaming,  might as well dream big. So on this Army issued iPhone is going to be an Army CORE Application that does a couple things. On top of the ability to upload content onto, it also has a Vocus-like feature with access to journalists, groups, and individuals that are interested in receiving Army updates on various topics. It would allow us to have one-stop shopping for updating all the sub-sites (Youtube, Flickr, etc). The application would also have a calendar that projects out to give you a heads up on what topics are going to be hot coming up. (i.e., the Army-Navy game is coming up in 2 months, we need commercials by X date)

As far as cost goes, an iPhone is $99 and the average bill is about $70 a month. Over the course of three years you’re talking about only $2619 for each Soldier. Considering the amount of money spent on other things, $2619 over 3 years is a drop in the bucket.

So after we get the iPhone issued to us, it would be nice to have a laptop that we carry with us from station to station just like we do our battle rattle…

Are you using your personal smartphone for work in other ways not mentioned? Let me know.

  1. December 7, 2009 Reply

    Sir- PFC Anderson, 3HBCT, 3ID, from Fort Benning here. Love the concept of your article. As the sole online/social media/e-media operator in my shop, I use my Blackberry Curve to tweet, with pics or not, about Brigade news, also have sms updates from people that effect the brigade, i.e. bde commander, FRSA, main post PAO, division PAO, etc and etc. easy to RT using TwitterBerry. up until the block on ako on blackberry, i had a couple different pao emails forwarded, much easier to respond and sort as they come in. I wish i could have worked it out to get into our fb page, and admin, but that might be possible with the iphone? for myself,i am a verizon user, and i have heard they are bring the iphone over before year's end. if they do, i will have one, if they don't it will be another blackberry after this rotation.

  2. December 9, 2009 Reply

    Hey there PFC Anderson. I monitor HammerPAO pretty frequently actually. It sounds as if your Blackberry is your personal one. In a previous job I had a BB that had work email enabled on it and it makes life so much easier, and with the newer smartphones out (iPhone/Android) that have all the bells and whistles, there is a lot of goodness we could get out of them as a branch. And things like Twitter are meant to be mobile, not done while being stuck behind a desktop. We could be interacting with people all the time and not just when we happen to be sitting behind our work desk.

  3. December 20, 2009 Reply

    You have a great idea and this would work outside of the military in a PR fashion too.
    The biggest issue I learned during my time in the Army was that the guys and gals with stars on their shoulder boards get cranky when anything new that comes along and doesn't involve an explosion of some sort.

  4. December 20, 2009 Reply

    Thanks Creighton. Actually, it is not as bad as you might think. Sure there are still leaders that are like you describe, but a lot has happened since '01 and many of today's military leaders are much more accepting and open to out of the box ideas. I can think of a number of senior ldr's that are all over social media and all the tools that are needed to work in it (and can think of some that aren't). I dont think I will actually see the iPhone/smartphone for every PAO happen, but would be a good thing if it did.

  5. Chris Clarke
    February 11, 2010 Reply

    Hey Mike, Did you see the new Official Army iPhone App @

  6. March 25, 2010 Reply

    I use mine for PAO work *all* the time. In addition to the ways MAJ Nicholson mentions here, I also have the AP Style Book app, which means I have everything I need to do a story right in my pocket. You never know when one will pop up, and with all the features the iPhone offers, you can have your story packaged before you even return from the mission! I love it.

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