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Saturday February 23, 2013 - 1/52/53/54/55/5

Consulting Magazine Article
Saturday February 23, 2013 - 1/52/53/54/55/5
Dr Ritcheson covered in Consulting Magazine Article:
Dr Andrew Ritcheson - Consulting Magazine One on One

COMOPS Journal: Ridicule as Strategic Communication
Monday April 26, 2010 - 1/52/53/54/55/5
Ridicule as Strategic Communication
from April 2010, COMOPS

I would be loath to consider ridicule and satire as tools of strategic communication. The reason for my resistance to make such a stretch derives basically from the fact that neither of these modes –ridicule or satire- encourages understanding, engagement, interaction, alignment or any other the other critical goals of the USG strategic communication vision.

Ridicule and satire are powerful weapons, but used inexpertly, and without thorough research of the target audiences, they can have terrible, unforeseen consequences. Efforts must be made to weigh the advantages of a successfully employed campaign using these modes versus the immediate fallout and ongoing ill-effects of unsuccessfully employed campaigns. Computers working in parallel have difficulty conceiving of second and third and nth order effects within populations, and the audience’s memory will be much longer than ours in this regard. We must therefore tread cautiously, and if we need to act rapidly, we need at least to keep an eye on the horizon, and to remain mindful of our impact – intended and unintended. This is not simply the risk of a joke falling flat, and an uncomfortable silence punctuated only by the sound of ice cubes being rattled in the drinks of a bored audience. People are put in harm’s way when initiatives are poorly conceived and precipitously deployed. This is no place for improv.

I suspect that more often than not, the use of ridicule and satire says rather more about us than we should be revealing. I suspect furthermore that concentrated efforts to understand and engage key audiences and populations in respectful, mutual and collaborative dialogues will in the long term bear greater fruit than tactical joke making. At the very least, let us be clear that these sorts of efforts that intent to provoke, demean, destabilize and deride reside more traditionally (and very often with a high degree of effect and success) in the toolbox of the PSYOP warrior, than in the hands of strategic communication professionals. This is not to downplay the former’s activities, but just to remember, to each trade its tools.

Dr Andrew Ritcheson

Link to COMOPS

Mountain Runner Blog: White House/National Security Council release its Section 1055 report on Strategic Communication
Monday April 26, 2010 - 1/52/53/54/55/5
March 19, 2010 7:11 AM

White House / National Security Council release its Section 1055 report on Strategic Communication


I would like to make a brief comment on the appearance in both of these documents of some particular language that derives directly from the field of psychology. Trained as a psychologist, and now engaged in conducting psychosocial audience research, I am encouraged to note the appearance of terms as “active listening” and “engagement,” which are very much techniques and concerns that are as relevant to psychotherapeutic settings as they are to transacting a more mature, interactive, two-way communication policy with foreign audiences. Naturally, it is not sufficient to evoke such terms, and there will certainly be room to align the actions of the relevant USG bodies with the words of these documents. It is noteworthy, however, that their inclusion seems to indicate not only an awareness of the flaws previously inherent in our communications abroad, but also a willingness to develop ways to reach key audiences by way of more comprehensive, at depth, and even possibly “psychological” methodologies. I am fond of the phrase “putting the audience on the couch,” and believe quite strongly that the only way to make measurable progress towards effective communication with key audiences is by adapting and employing techniques and ways of “diagnosing” that are as suitable for one “client” as they are for 100,000. Listening and promoting real engagement are certainly very positive steps in this regard.

Dr Andrew Ritcheson

Link to Mountain Runner Blog

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