As tribes across the US gear up to do battle with the Anti-Indian Movement, communications will comprise the front line of defense. Understanding how this war of ideas can be fought effectively will make the difference between winning and losing.
One of the most common mistakes of communications in conflict is to respond to attacks in a defensive manner, which violates the core principle of not repeating the talking points of your enemy. Repetition imprints itself on the public mind, and is in turn repeated by media. Developing the essential understandings you wish to convey, and sticking to them, is an effective strategy; responding to attacks allows your enemy to set the terms of discussion.
Another core principle is not to provide a platform for your enemy. Some PR people think it is a demonstration of fairness to invite your enemy to debates and discussions. What they should be doing is finding ways to discredit their enemy and subvert their operations against them. I can analyze almost any PR release and find violations of these principles; PR people study mass communication, but not Netwar.
Tribal governments will be embroiled in psychological warfare, and the Principles of Psywar are rarely understood by public relations staff. This is a separate function from investigative research, but a related one.
When developing research budgets, it might help to point out that investigative research in social conflict is not a one-off; it is a continuous flow of information generated before, during, and after netwar. This flow can begin with a briefing based on experience, proceed to an estimate of the current situation (after scoping it out), continue with a full report once researchers hit critical mass on essential information, and then generate periodic updates through monitoring media, events, communications and activities of the opposition.
This format of presenting essential understandings in short video segments is an effective way of engaging the public online. Tribal governments might want to consider producing something — in advance of announcing initiatives — in order to guide subsequent public discourse.
These guys will probably offer their fundraising and organizing services to the anti-Indian organizers. They have a lot of experience at raising money and mobilizing bigotry, and appear to be looking for a new political opportunity to use their skills. They should not be underestimated.
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.