26 August 2015

3 Ways to Get College Credit from Your Joint Services Transcript (JST)

As a military or veteran student, you’ve gained valuable training, skills, and experience while serving your country, which is documented in your Joint Services Transcript (JST). You’re probably aware that your JST can be used to earn transfer credit when applying to school, but are you taking full advantage of the different types of military college credits available? 

Step 1: Use Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) to Your Advantage

To understand how your JST can help get the most transfer credit into your chosen college degree, first you need to understand the variety of ways in which transfer credit can be achieved.

Generally, PLA refers to any means of bringing transfer credit into a degree program at any college. Common examples include:
· Prior college learning
· AP examinations from high school
· College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) scores

Some schools offer a structured PLA program to help you maximize the credit you can transfer into an academic program based on your military and life experiences. For adult students with real-world experience, seeking out such schools can be advantageous, because you may be able to graduate sooner and for less cost. 

Our PLA program at American Military University (www.amu.apus.edu) gives you the opportunity to earn credit for learning outside the confines of a traditional classroom, in addition to what may have been earned via the American Council of Education (ACE) or college-level testing. Our unique PLA process allows you to demonstrate this through:
· College-level knowledge
· Skills and abilities as the result of work experience
· Formal corporate or military training not evaluated by ACE
· Business ownership
· Volunteer work
· Independent study
· Travel and many other life experiences   

Documentation is Your Friend

Documentation will help you get as many credits as possible. It can include sample work products, training certificates, workplace evaluations, letters of recommendation, and photographs. As a military student, you have the advantage of providing your JST as documentation in support of these requirements

Consider a military intelligence analyst stationed abroad. While credit may be recommended on the JST due to the analyst’s formal intelligence training, the region-specific knowledge and skills the analyst attained while living abroad will not. However, the analyst can use the JST to verify training, in combination with a resume and narrative to demonstrate years’ worth of experience and observation in a local culture. This could demonstrate the analyst’s mastery of certain learning objectives of a particular course in a degree program, such as intelligence or international relations, and provide sufficient evidence to earn college credit awarded through the PLA process.

Before you apply to such PLA programs, which do require some time, effort and expense—be sure to maximize the more common means of transferring credits into a degree program.

Step 2: Maximize Transfer Credit Using Your JST

The Military Course Completions and Military Experience sections of the JST contain a list of all your military training and occupational assignments. Often, these have been recommended for credit and are certified by ACE. ACE specializes in translating military experience into recommended college credit. Verify that your JST is included with any application when enrolling at a college. First, ask the college to confirm that it will accept relevant credit recommendations from your JST.

Under the Other Learning Experiences section, other training and real-world knowledge and experience is listed. Although no course credit is earned for these experiences, the information is valuable in proving competency for credentialing and qualification for employment. This is important for students attempting to earn additional transfer credits at colleges that offer a prior learning assessment option.

Step 3: Choose Your School & Program Wisely

Be aware that there are limits to the amount of transfer credit any reputable college or university will allow. Institutions of higher education that maintain expectations of academic rigor often have a residency requirement, which stipulates that students must take at least 25 percent of their program at their school in order to award a diploma. Schools that do not enforce this industry standard warrant a second look.

Selecting a specific degree program is a personal and important choice. It should be based on your long-term career and individual goals. If earning a degree in the shortest amount of time is critical to your goals, be sure to first review the degree requirements. Match them to any prior learning you already have, or to what you believe might earn you credit through a PLA program with your JST.
Consider schools that have a history of accepting legitimate transfer credit from legitimate sources, such as prior college credit, college-level testing and ACE-recommended military training. Do not ignore accreditation. As a general rule, for academic degree programs look for regional accreditation. Then, confirm that the school offers a formalized PLA process.

Different schools have different policies regarding the acceptance of transfer credit. Some accept minimal credit based on military training. Some do not provide sufficient military specific services that current and former Servicemembers deserve. So get another opinion. By using these three steps and knowing how PLA works to your advantage, you’ll be well-equipped to maximize the academic credits you may have already earned by serving your nation.

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25 August 2015

Eradicating the Cancer of Sexual Assaults from our Military


While serving as the Commanding General of the U. S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools at Aberdeen Proving Ground some two decades ago, I uncovered what was basically a crime ring.  Drill sergeants were having a contest to see who could have sex with the most students in our advanced individual training classes.  It became readily apparent by reading reports that this abuse of power was occurring not only at Aberdeen but also at other Army installations and within other Services.
When all the studies by the Department of the Army were completed and formally announced in September 1997, the Pentagon’s emphasis for correcting the problem of sexual assaults was to allege that Aberdeen was an aberration and that sexual assaults were only a problem within one school’s command. They insisted that the problem that needed to be addressed Army-wide was sexual harassment.
If one were to look at sexual assault as the cancer, then sexual harassment is the precursor.  Attacking the issue of sexual harassment is vital to ensuring all civilians, military and family members are not subjected to objectionable language and conduct and are able to feel comfortable in the workplace and living areas.  The cancer is still sexual assault and it continues to this day in our military.
I have had the privilege and honor over the past two years to address hundreds of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Victims Advocates, Special Victims Counsels, and leaders who are working hard to eradicate the cancer of sexual assaults.  I have also talked with survivors, commanders, family members, law enforcement officials, and medical personnel.   I have learned from them that the cancer lives on, DOD-wide.
As I go about discussing this issue in the private sector to include colleges, religious groups, civic organizations, and service organizations, I emphasize that it is only 1-2% of the military that are perpetrators of sexual assaults.  But this 1-2% cause irreparable damage to survivors while concurrently damaging the reputation of the greatest military ever.
My specific recommendations with regard to eradicating this cancer have remained consistent over the past few years. I know the women appointed to positions to work on this issue are working hard, and I mean no disrespect by the following comment:  As long as the military keeps putting women in charge of the prevention of sexual harassment/sexual assault, these problems will be seen as women’s issues and not military issues. Prevention of sexual assault is not a personnel or human relations issue; it’s a force protection issue. It needs to be handled in units by the same staffs who are working to prevent injury and death by improvised explosive device attacks, terrorist attacks on facilities and people, etc.
When working with the Department of Defense budget, be careful when cutting people who facilitate a commander’s  ability to gain situational awareness of what is going on in echelons below him or her.  It is essential that all support mechanisms are in place for soldiers and that the flow of information to decision makers is not impeded.
Sexual harassment prevention training needs to be continual and frequent.
Using sex to get ahead should not be tolerated. Women need to police their ranks just like men must do for theirs. Anyone found guilty of sexual assault and other felonies should be drummed out of the Army (Military). No second chance, no mercy—just as the Army handled drug users beginning in the 1980s.
In my simplistic mind, the key to the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual felonies in the military is for every service member and civilian, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or rank, to be a keeper of the standards. If a soldier or civilian sees someone doing something that even appears to be wrong, he or she needs to call the offender (male or female) out on it. Give that person a chance to stop, unless it is so bad that higher ups need to know right away. If that person doesn’t stop, report them to their leadership.
Leaders must do the “tough right” and not the “easy wrong.”  They must act on concerns brought to their attention, and their subordinates need to know that it’s okay to take their complaints through other channels to get resolution. The enforcement of the highest tactical, technical, ethical, and moral standards is up to every soldier and civilian in the military. If we are going to stamp out misconduct of all types, every person must enforce the standards. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

--

MG(Ret) Robert D. Shadley served in key leadership and staff positions during his 33-year career.  He is the author of "The GAMe: Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal" which documents sexual misconduct and abuse of power at an Army school.  The book is on the Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List.


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24 August 2015

General Counseling and Military Justice


The single most important thing in the military justice system is accurate evidence. The General Counseling Form and written statements, whether formal or informal, are important to any military justice file and therefore important to any counseling file. Maybe I should clarify this a little bit more by adding that, of course, they must be properly completed.
Why are they important? These documents are important in order to have an accurate reflection on any noteworthy event such as monthly counseling or event oriented counseling. Why is it important for them to be properly completed? Should the occasion arise that these general counseling files are required to be submitted to your legal office, these documents serve as evidence to a certain degree. Should they be improperly completed, they will be useless to your legal office and will likely be returned to the unit to be filed there and remain unusable no matter how much you argue with them.
Why would they be useless? Let’s take a sworn statement as an example. On the sworn statement, there are places to insert date and time data. It’s important to establish a required timeline with the correct information. An Election of Rights Form should accompany a sworn statement when someone is being accused of doing something wrong. When you look at these two documents together, the timeline needs to make sense. The date and time data on the Election of Rights should be within about 2 hours of the date and time data on the sworn statement. This is in order to show that these two forms go together, and that the service member was afforded their rights prior to making a sworn statement. If the timeline doesn’t make sense, the evidence isn’t any good and likely will not be used.
Another example is the date and time data on a general counseling statement when a company commander decides to separate a service member for being overweight. There are mandatory timelines that need to be met as well as accompanying document requirements. If any one of these required documents is improperly completed or missing altogether, it will reset the entire timeline back to the beginning, invalidating several months of paperwork and testing. The commander and first sergeant will be looking to separate those that didn’t take the time to do things right the first time. These are just two examples of what can happen if legal paperwork is not properly completed. Contact your unit’s legal section to find out more about completing these forms and others like them. It will save you a lot of headaches in the future.

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19 August 2015

Career Planning: 5 Year Plan


We often hear that we're our best career advocates, but to read some of these threads, one would think many of us are victims to the all-powerful Big Brother of HRC. The truth likely is that many of us don't know how to plan for our careers, or haven't put in the time to do it. While I can't help with the latter, this post will get you started for career planning. It's oriented toward Army officers, but similar resources and techniques apply for NCOs and likely other services.
Here’s my advice:
1) Be a member of S1 Net. Knowing the regs better than the admin folks has been the saving grace for me personally and for more than one of my Soldiers on a number of occasions. Staying current with those regs is easier with S1 Net. You can get weekly updates on MILPER messages, ALARACTs, and other key notices by signing up via MILSUITE.
2) Know your career progression. DA Pamphlet 6003, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management explains the entire process of developing oneself as an officer generally and in one's branch or functional area. Read the first seven (7) chapters in their entirety, including the parts about aviation, warrant officers, the Reserve and Guard, whether or not they  apply to you. This explains schools, when and how the service expects to promote, and under what conditions.
Chapters 8-41 are specific to branches and functional areas. Read the chapter that applies to you, as well as any branch detailed area or interesting functional areas. There's a figure at the end of every section which lays out your branch's career progression: what PME, civilian education, training, assignments, and self-development one should have at each rank or time period for that branch. This is critical, as it helps set up your expectations and can help shape your personal, family, and career planning.
3) Know your personal circumstances and goals. Where are you in life? Where do you want to be 5 or 10 years? Are you married or in a serious relationship? Do you have children? What age and school? How old are your parents? How is their health? Who depends on you? In the event something significant happened in your "immediate family" (parents, stepfamily, grandparents, siblings, nieces/nephews, etc.), who would take on primary caregiver roles? Would you be one of the key decision makers or caregivers? How likely is a life-changing event (sibling with cancer, elderly parents/in-laws, etc.)?
How do you feel about traditional military career requirements? Is the command "end-all/be-all" for you, or are you someone who is a stellar staff officer, and would be okay without necessarily being in command repeatedly? Are you only seeking out command because you feel it's the only way to continue "up" in our system? (Ps. It's not.) There might be functional areas that are better suited for you personally, and which would benefit your skills if this is the case.
4) Know where your jobs are located. At junior levels, there are often positions at various posts, but as one becomes a field grade officer, these positions slim significantly. In my career field, the majority of O5 and O6 positions are located in the National Capital Region. I searched FMSWeb by position and grade. One can also look this up in the AGR system using AGRMIS, or ask one's branch manager. Sometimes branch newsletters publish information on where percentages of positions are located.
5) Lay out your timeline. Using the excel spreadsheet attached, build your timeline, overlaying your family, career, and life milestones. This activity helps identify when I want to apply for Battalion Command (I have a choice), to provide continuity for our son's high school education. I also recognized when retirement opportunities were present and identified associated risks. Although there's only  7 years of service difference between receiving an Active or Reserve retirement due to multiple deployments, I must reach O6 to stay for extra three months beyond my O5 Mandatory
Retirement date to be eligible for an Active Duty retirement. All of this data helped us shape the following situational awareness: I will still be in the Army after our son graduates high school. Most O5/O6 jobs for my career field are in the NCR, my husband's career has a number of advancement opportunities in the NCR, and we don't really want to pay for the kind of housing that great schools would cost in that area, but it wouldn't be a bad idea if we had Virginia residency for our son to attend one of the state's colleges, either! As a result, I campaigned for non-NCR positions early in my O5 timeline, with intent on pursuing Battalion Command and Senior Service College while our son is in high school and then moving to the NCR for senior O5/junior O6 assignments. Likely, I will have to geobach SSC for high school continuity, but then we can move into smaller, more cost efficient housing and not need to consider school quality and play dates the way we used to! It also sets us up for transitioning to a post-Army world for me, and one where my husband is able to continuously invest in his career without needing to pack up every few years.
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18 August 2015

Marketing to the Military: Online Press Release

David Yoo, RallyPoint Civilian Careers.


Marketing to Military

A 2006 post from Greg Jarboe on Search Engine Watch recounts the origins of the press release: 
On October 28, 1906, at least 50 people lost their lives when a three-car train of the Pennsylvania Railroad's newly equipped electric service jumped a trestle at Atlantic City, NJ, and plunged into the Thoroughfare creek. 
That afternoon, Ivy Lee, who some consider to be the father of modern PR, created the first press release. The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of his clients. Following the accident, Lee not only convinced the railroad to distribute a public statement, he also convinced them to provide a special train to get reporters to the scene of the accident. 
The New York Times was so impressed with this innovative approach to corporate communications that it printed the first press release—verbatim—on Oct. 30, 1906 as a "Statement from the Road." In the weeks that followed, both newspapers and public officials effusively praised Pennsylvania Railroad for its openness and honesty.
A quick definition from Wikipedia defines an online news release or press release as any "written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy." 

This practice is worth investigating as the digital era has changed the landscape and contours of traditional marketing practices. Particularly, marketing to the military, both to military families as well as to the Department of Defense, has also grown and evolved over time, with major companies utilizing digital media to get their message across different actors. 

Yet, while the medium used to distribute "ostensibly newsworthy" news has changed, the spirit of the strategy has remained relatively intact. With the dawn of social media and its ensuing game-changing effect on traditional marketing practices, issuing press releases has remained a consistently reliable and popular marketing tactic used to reach audiences.

What has changed?
Ivy Lee's decision to facilitate spreading the news about the Pennsylvania Railroad incident was revolutionary and lauded by many as a game changing PR strategy. The original press release strategy has been to reach publicists with reports of a particular news, in which details are presented in a way the company would like to communicate.

Press releases are no longer just for journalists, publishers, or the press. Companies use press releases to disseminate company and industry-related news using sites like PR Newswire and Marketwired to reach popular news agencies and audiences that actively tune in to receive the latest news. 

What's the key to writing a valuable press release?
We'll take a look at an example of a fictional company, named Oceanic Airways, and the press release that the company feels will get prospective defense contractors to think more favorably about the airline. We'll break down the components of the press release and emphasize elements that help make the news an easy picking for reporters who are inundated with hundreds press releases on a daily basis. 




1. Catchy Headline


For the example provided above, the fictional airline company is announcing a massive PR campaign, making it likelier for news outlets, reporters, and day-to-day Internet surfers to catch and read more about online. 

Your press release's headline should state the summary of your news. Don't bait your reporters with some dubious headline, as they won't have time to read through all of the potential press releases being published online. Tell them what it is, how it is, and why they should care, but in an interesting way. 

Announcements of free offers, revolutionary developments, and major shifts in company focus will obviously captivate the most attention. But certain words work better than others. As you are limited to one sentence, you might want to choose your words carefully. You may not have something free to offer, nor something revolutionary to pioneer, but using power words that employ compelling verbs may help you get an edge over your competitors to pique the reporters' interest. 

Put yourself in the reporters' shoes and read your headline out loud. Is it interesting, provocative, sentimental, heartwarming, satirical, engaging, or educational? Think about the emotion you want to evoke, and choose power words that help you populate your readers' minds with those thoughts.


2. Get to the Point

Don't beat around the bush. Explain why this press release is relevant and why you should continue reading to find out more. 

Essentially, you want to answer the question: "What's the news?" Don't explain the company's history, its origins, the products or services it sells, etc. Save that for later after the reader wants to find out more. Right now, the focus should be on getting the point of the content across in a concise and effective manner. Get the facts out and get them out fast. Your readers are deciding whether to tune out of the rest of your press release after reading the first few sentences of your intro.


3. Quotes, quotes, quotes

Your reader knows what's going on at this point. They've digested the introduction, now give them something to quote. The quote is where reporters should get some more context or details for the news that is being announced. 

Quote appropriately. Those on the higher end of the ladder should be quoted when discussing key developments, new projects, big changes, etc. Make sure the spirit of the quote captures the spirit of the press release. Does the quote focus too much on caution when the news is a cause for celebration? Does the quote express too much unqualified optimism or excessive pessimism during a time of clear financial difficulty? 

Quote effectively. You don't need to quote everyone who was involved with the new contract signing. Get a few and choose 1-2 quotes that can go along with the piece. Get the quote up and in the reader's face as soon as you finish with the introductory details of the news. 


4. Expand on details when necessary

Maybe the quote you used for the piece mentioned one particular detail that hints at something without giving the whole picture, or another small announcement was made concurrently. 

Use this space to concisely provide extra necessary details that let your readers get the whole picture. You don't need to delve into the particular details to a great extent, only enough for your readers to feel that they've got the idea. This shouldn't be the crux of the piece, so spending too many valuable sentences on details about a particular subject may be counterproductive and off-putting for your readers. 


5. Background and context

This section is where you want to spend a few sentences explaining the nature of the development. What inspired it? Why was it done? Were there subtle shifts and turns that the company took that led to this particular development? Was it a massive overhaul of a previous system? A complete rebranding? Explain it here. Provide the valuable context and background information necessary to explain the why question of the press release. 

In other words, why is this becoming news? 


6. Who are you?


Here you should explain what your company does, sells, develops, researches, manufactures, provides, etc. Use simple English to describe your company's operations -- don't automatically assume reporters and readers are experts in your industry.

Hyperlink your website to your home page and make sure to provide references to statistics, data, and other quoted materials. Provide proper attribution to those mentioned in the press release. 

For more information about creating valuable content for marketing to general audiences as well as for specific military audiences, check out some of previous blog posts about content marketing and using video campaigns.

11 August 2015

Veterans: That’s NOT As Good As It Gets

During my exit physical from the Army, the doctor at Fort Hood acknowledged my HUMMV rollover and spinal cord injuries.  But when I asked, what do we do to fix it? What do we do to treat it? The doctor just responded, “We’ll that’s as good as it gets.”
It’s funny to me, because we all joined the military with the same idea that “this is as good as it gets.” But we learned that through hard work, teamwork, and advanced technology, we were capable of so much more.  The military puts us through hell to show us what we’re truly able to do.
That’s the irony any time someone tells a veteran “that’s as good as it gets.”  I’ve heard this story repeat time and again for active military and veterans.  The problem with this is that it doesn’t keep up with the veterans who are beating the odds and new medical technologies that challenge those earlier assumptions.
Now, you may not be an injured veteran, but that’s why YOU need to know this.  You realize that veterans are less likely to seek help for themselves, but veterans are more likely to help another veteran.  That’s why you need to share medical advances and examples of veterans re-defining “how it has to be.”
A great example of this is a low-cost arm device that allows veterans to gain mobility and use from their weakened or paralyzed arm.  The MyoPro (hotlink: www.veteran.myomo.com) uses the signals the brain still sends to muscle groups to activate the device and restore upper limb mobility.  The device is being distributed by VA hospitals, medical providers, and even some veteran non-profits.
It’s estimated that 500,000 veterans could use a MyoPro to regain function of their arm and improve their quality of life.  However, at some point after a spinal cord injury, neck injury, or stroke they were told, “that’s as good as it gets.”
So if you know a veteran that has limited use of a weakened arm, have them check out www.Myomo.com/veteran.  And if you know of a veteran who was told “that’s as good as it gets” on anything from their health to employment, help them to see the veterans who are challenging those odds… After all, military veterans love a good challenge.
--
About the author: Tom was disabled from a spinal cord injury he received while serving as an Army captain. After graduating from West Point, he served in the 1st Cavalry Division with deployments to Kuwait, Panama, and Korea. Tom’s civilian career includes Kellogg Business School, Leo Burnett advertising, Monster.com, and Sears Holdings. He’s focused on less talk and competing veteran help efforts and more results. Tom has helped employers hire over 50,000 vets and raised $118 million for community programs, helping more than 110,000 military and veteran families.

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Dispelling Civilian Expectations: What You Don't Know You Don't Know


A little background on myself: I was an artillery officer in the Marine Corps from 2004-2012. I spent my time as an artillery liaison officer, forward observer, executive officer, and platoon commander. I also worked as an infantry platoon commander in Iraq and a JTAC/Firepower Control Team Leader in Afghanistan. I conducted a total of five deployments: Iraq twice, Afghanistan, and two Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments. I left the Marine Corps in 2012, was able to find a job before my separation date, and have worked in that job for nearly three years now. I work in the manufacturing industry, initially as a shift supervisor and after a promotion, as a superintendent.
I want to begin by dispelling some expectations you may have of the civilian job market place. For starters, no one is obligated to hire you. No one sees that you are a vet and immediately puts your resume in the “to hire” bin. Your status as a veteran does not necessarily help your job search. It doesn’t hurt in most cases, but do not expect anyone to roll the red carpet out for you. I have found that this is a common misperception that separating service members have. To be clear, there are companies that prefer veterans and there are companies that have veteran transition programs. When those resources are available, use them, but don’t assume you have a leg up. It’s better to expect and prepare for the worst case scenario and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around.
Now, as a veteran, you have some disadvantages. First, you don’t speak the same language as the people looking to hire you. Second, your career accomplishments are not in line with what hiring managers are typically looking for. Finally, you probably have a very limited network outside the military. For most of us the military is the only job we’ve known since leaving high school or college. As such, we don’t know a lot of professionals that aren’t family or service members. This disadvantage is probably the most significant, because a network is what will likely get you hired.
That leads me into my first piece of advice: start your transition early! I cannot overstate how important it is that you start transitioning at least 12 months out. That is the minimum. Ideally, I’d like you to start 18 months out. If you have less than a year before you separate I strongly suggest that you try to push your date out. You will need this time to polish your resume, work on interview skills, and most importantly to build the network that will get you a job.
How do you build that network though, and in what field should you focus? I can’t speak to anyone else, but I had no idea what I wanted to do outside of the military. I am willing to bet, though, that a lot of service members are in the same boat. As I said, most of us have never had a career outside of the military and don’t know where to even start figuring out what to do. I think this is why so many people end up in law enforcement, security, and government jobs after separating. There is nothing wrong with those careers, but don’t limit yourself just because they’re familiar.
Fortunately, there are methods to find out about various career fields. I used the local (San Diego) Chamber of Commerce and American Corporate Partners (ACP). The Chamber of Commerce was extremely helpful. They provided me with personality assessments and an idea of what fields I may fit in. They also gave me an opportunity to shadow people in those fields. This was great for two reasons: first, exposure to career fields I may not have considered (or, ones I did consider but was able to rule out), and second, it was an opportunity to start building a professional network outside of the military. The Chamber of Commerce has offices throughout the nation and, from my experience, is focused on helping veterans transition. It is a great idea to reach out to them and see what programs are available, both in the city that you’re separating from and in any city you’d want to move to.  ACP has a program that will link you up with a mentor in various fields. This mentor is a veteran with a few years of experience in the field you’re interested in. This can be a great resource for getting some detailed information on a career field you may be interested in, along with advice on how to get into that field and some contacts to help you do so. There are more resources out there, and if you’d like to get in touch I will be happy to provide some links, but I found those two most helpful. Look around a bit, be open-minded, and put yourself out there though you’ll find a lot of people willing to help you.

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Marketing to the Military Case Study: Budweiser

David Yoo, RallyPoint Civilian Careers.
Budweiser Marketing to the Military



Budweiser is a popular pale lager produced by Anheuser–Busch, an American brewing company based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Prior to selling SeaWorld Parks and Busch Gardens to private equity firm Blackstone GroupAnheuser-Busch was one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, operating ten theme parks through the company's family entertainment division. 


Budweiser Marketing Motorsports
Budweiser has, for years, been known for sport sponsorships such as baseball, football, soccer, and motorsports. The company has also been involved with video game sponsorship during the early years of the video game industry, and has also been known for airing humorous advertisements. Some of Budweiser's advertising tactics have become so popular that they are an indispensable part of the company's marketing strategy. Namely, the Budweiser Clydesdales (pictured above) have become an iconic image of the company, often being used in the Rose Parade and Superbowl commercials.

Below we'll discuss in full detail some of the strategies Budweiser has employed in bolstering their nearly ubiquitous recognition from sports lovers and TV surfers, to military veterans. 


Viral Video Marketing Campaigns

If you recall our previous post about video campaigns, we stressed the importance of creating consistent, valuable content. Things that people would want to spend time watching. 

Budweiser consistently creates and uploads videos on its official YouTube account, whose content consists of updates on the Made in America music festival, the company's sponsored Bud and Burgers Championship, and many of the company's aired commercials. Check out the company's 2015 Super Bowl Commercial titled “Lost Dog.”



One of the things we mentioned in our previous post about video campaigns was that "airing one or two commercials on television" would probably not communicate your company's culture or its commitment to its mission statement. The video above, while valuable to those who were willing to watch it, does not go beyond its heartwarming nature to call for a particular course of action or to propagate a sentiment the company wants to share with its viewers.

Indeed, airing one or two commercials like these may popularize your company's name to the families and friends spending their Sunday evening watching the game. But the most instructive part of Budweiser's video marketing strategy is its consistency and diversity of the message it has spread. For example, aside from a myriad of different projects and communities the company has targeted, Budweiser has regularly demonstrated its dedication to support the troops and those who have risked their lives to protect their fellow countrymen through viral video campaigns. 

Check out some of the numerous videos that Budweiser and the parent company have created to demonstrate their gratitude for veterans and service members. Many of these videos were created to build positive public perceptions of the company by emphasizing the company's efforts to support those who serve.


'Troops Coming Home'

'Coming Home'

A Hero's Welcome - Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial

9/11 Tribute

The last video, a tribute to those who have lost their lives in 9/11, was remastered and released again on 2011 as a ten year anniversary tribute. The videos were meant as tributes and a public demonstration of the company's solemn respect for those who have perished during and after the crisis. The commercials never aired more than once so as to not profit from the commemoration of the lives lost during the tragedy.


Promotions, Donations, and Building Culture

We mentioned that one of the main reasons to create valuable video campaigns is to inform the viewer of your company's culture and to shape the brand in the would like by emphasizing certain qualities. The commercials and videos linked above were some of Budweiser's content that centered on military service, emphasizing qualities the company prized such as patriotism, camaraderie, gratitude, respect, support, and service. The company has, for long, supplemented their video marketing campaign with genuine outreach to those who have served. Consider some of these initiatives that show the company's commitment to making an impact in the military community:


Budweiser Baseball Marketing
1) In March 2011, Budweiser launched the “Here’s to the Heroes” Home Run program. The program involved a $100 donation for every home run hit during the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season to benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation, an initiative that provides educational scholarships to the dependents of service members killed or disabled in the line of duty. Additionally, the company donated a portion of every case sold from May 26 – July 10 to the organization.

2) More than 5,500 Anheuser-Busch employees have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and other military campaigns. Employees currently serving in the U.S. military may resume their jobs at Anheuser-Busch.

Sports Marketing Budweiser
3) From 2001 to 2009, more than 5 million military service personnel and their families received free admission to select theme parks through the “Here’s to the Heroes” program sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser. 

The company remains a sponsor of this popular program in Florida, Virginia and Texas. The company also helped found the U.S. Military Sports Association, an organization that supports our uniformed men and women’s sports activities, and has donated more than 18,000 pieces of sports equipment to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

4) Since 1987, the company and its Foundation have donated nearly $11 million to military charities, including the USO, Fisher House, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Pentagon Memorial Fund, America Supports You, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Hispanic War Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, among others.

Budweiser Marketing Rose Parade
5) On New Year’s Day 2011, Budweiser paid tribute to America’s heroes with a patriotic float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, which was pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales and featured veteran service organizations and Anheuser-Busch employees who had served in the military. The gesture was made to give thanks to those who have been in active duty or who are currently serving and for all the sacrifices they've made to protect the residents within the country.


Blogs, Infographics, and White Papers

Blogs: 
Budweiser has also made effective use of other content marketing strategies to bolster its public reputation as a socially aware thought leader with expertise in fields related to brewery and drinking culture. 


Budweiser Blog Marketing
When going to the company's blog, you will notice that the content marketing team regularly creates a diverse array of different topics. Whether the post is about the company's environmental efforts, a recipe to brew an imperial stout oatmeal recipe, or about how lager should be tried over wine at the dinner table for the night, Budweiser's marketing team is constantly creating valuable and searchable content for its viewers. The blog's home page is visually appealing and user friendly, allowing you to go through previous posts and catch up on the latest news, company initiatives, fan-made recipes, etc.

Infographics:
Budweiser Infographic
The company has created or commissioned contractors to create visually appealing infographics. For example, During the FA Cup, Budweiser wanted to create an infographic that compared the life cycle of the pint of Budweiser in one's hand to the events that have occurred during the the FA Cup so far. The campaign was designed to be used across Facebook and the focus was to create an engaging timeline. The importance of having visual content is at an all-time high. As the Content Marketing Institute reported, "Social media sites that focus exclusively on images are swiftly gaining in popularity. In February, TechCrunch reported that the percentage of online adults using Pinterest (15 percent) had almost caught up to the percentage using Twitter (16 percent)." Budweiser understands the appeal of creating visual content and has taken advantage of its presence on social media to spread this type of content to its viewers. 


Budweiser Infographics Marketing
The organization will continue to create informative and well-designed bits like the one above as part of its ongoing content marketing strategy. For instance, another notable infographic created with the intent of informing and spreading a bit of the company's culture and history. Not all of Budweiser's (or your company's) content has to be overt advertisement. Many individuals find even bits like the one depicted here interesting, due to the colorful presentation of what would otherwise be fairly uninteresting information. 

White Papers:
The company is also no stranger to creating white papers on topics of importance. Given the nature of the company's products and the association between alcohol and impaired judgment, many brewing organizations are constantly under scrutiny. According to Anheuser-Busch's press release, "Anheuser-Busch's representatives participated in the launch of the Beer Institute’s comprehensive white paper detailing alcohol responsibility efforts, including drunk-driving and underage-drinking prevention, and supportive data – including those championed by Anheuser-Busch. Maryellen Pado, Senior Director for Corporate Social Responsibility at Anheuser-Busch, presented Budweiser’s 'Friends Are Waiting' campaign to attending congressional staff and media." 

Given the dangerous nature of under age drinking and driving under the influence, the company has taken an active step to write a report in a white paper that could be read here. Writing these types of reports show the public that you are a thought leader and recognize that you are truly committed to your company's core values.


Takeaway

The key takeaway from this case study on Budweiser's marketing strategy is this: you don't have to be as big as these companies to create valuable content to benefit your business

While it's true that we've investigated perhaps one of the most well-funded companies with a large budget for marketing, the fact is that many businesses can still succeed in creating content that can attract consumers and other businesses alike. As we've mentioned repeatedly throughout our previous posts, you do not need to buy prime time Superbowl commercial advertising slots in order to spread your message, your company's culture, your products/services, or your mission. Remember, businesses have started and taken off with less resources and less access to an audience. 


For more information about creating valuable content for marketing to general audiences as well as for specific military audiences, check out some of previous blog posts about content marketing and using video campaigns.

Check out some of RallyPoint's unique Business Services here and have access to more than 740,000 members of the military and former military on our social network.

10 August 2015

Leveraging your Military Experience to be a Successful Business Owner

The intangible benefits you gain from serving in the Military are priceless. Work ethic, self-discipline, interpersonal skills, determination, and the ability to work as part of a team are just a few of the benefits. For 3 ½ of the last 7 years, I have worked in a virtual environment.

The office and my manager were 5+hours away; I was entrusted because of my self-discipline, determination, and integrity all from my Military experience. I didn’t have anyone telling me what time to start and end work, no one to tell me what to do every day - I just knew what needed to be done.


One of my responsibilities was to act as a business consultant to small business owners, formally titled Agency Distribution Sales Specialist.  In this role, finding an office location, furnishing the office, assisting with hiring staff, developing a marketing strategy, and reviewing financial statements were some of the things I did on a daily basis. As an entrepreneur, you need to be resilient, productive, focused, disciplined, and a hard worker. These are all skills learned in the Military which is why being an entrepreneur is an excellent option for those that have served our country.


Here are some tips to be a successful business owner:


Hiring the right employee is the first thing that needs to be done. Think of the interview process in the same way as a Promotion Board. Reviewing soldiers’ records is similar to looking at resumes. Pay attention to qualities you are looking for in a team member. Once you have selected who you are interested in, the interview is the next step. The questions asked in the interview should be based on the applicant’s job history, experience, and the qualities you are looking for. During the interview, assess their conversational skills, ability to respond under pressure, question if they coachable, ask yourself if you would want this person on your team, etc.


Once you find the right person, you want to keep them as long as you can. Employees are an appreciating asset because they can become more productive and valuable with time. Compensation is one way to keep someone engaged. In the Military, you promote someone when you want to keep them. As a small business owner, you have the option to create a solid compensation plan. Some ideas to consider are: paying for performance (this will allow someone to make their own raise), paid vacation days, flex time, continuing education fees paid, life insurance, etc.


Now that you have your team in place, it’s important to define success. Determine what the goals are so everyone is on the same page with ‘the mission’ or what needs to be accomplished. In the Military, you kept score. You knew how many pushups needed to be done in order to score 100; you knew how many points you needed to make the cut off for promotion. It’s no different in the business world. One way to keep score is to keep track of where your business comes from. Marketing and advertising are expensive; a review should be done on a regular basis to assess the return of investment for each system. Many small business owners get their business from word of mouth, so having a loyalty or referral program might be something to consider.


Hopefully you will find what I have written useful so you can apply it to your operation. My advice to you as an entrepreneur is based on my experience working with small business owners and salespeople in my organization. Good luck with your entrepreneurial journey!

Read more posts like this, here!