Monday, 8 April 2013

The communications kill chain

A concept I was introduced to around 6 months ago (I think at Boyd and Beyond) was that of the "kill chain", a term defined as:

This military concept consists of target identification, force dispatch to target, decision and order to attack the target, and finally the destruction of the target.
 In essence the kill chain is the length between identifying something you want dead, and making it dead, with varying degrees of complexity in the middle depending on the scale of the operation and the value of the target.

One of the challenges in politics is dealing with negative press, it's ubiquitous, and even the most positive actions will inevitably generate at least some negative sentiment. Stories fundamentally play out in one of two ways:
  1. They get shut down when new evidence proves the original story to be wrong or worse still, boring
  2. They become "accepted wisdom" and leave the media because there is simply nothing else to say on the topic 
From a purely objective position option 2 is worse, it doesn't matter about the truth of the story on an objective sense, allowing something to become accepted wisdom when it is a negative often has long term implications. The goal, get to option 1, every time. And that's where the mentality of the kill chain can be most effectively converted to civilian use.

So how do we define the kill chain in this context? I would suggest thus:
The identification of negative information in the public space, notification of appropriate responders, assembling information suitable for a response, distribution of response, re enforcement of response
The definition could stand a little polish but broadly speaking these are the stages by which any organisation seeks to rebut a negative story being put about in the media (legacy or new).

The difference between this approach and the military one is that the approach in this case is open ended, with the chain cycling back, primarily to the information assembly and distribution points of the cycle. If it is cycling all the way back to the notification of responders then you have a more fundamental problem, the inability to identify appropriate responders in a crisis, which is a whole separate blog post.

And yes, I'm back. More substantive posts to come.

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