From our visit to the communications branch of NATO, I was able to understand the amount of importance and intensity that is involved with such serious international military operations. We heard from three speakers, the first of which being Allison Hart, who was in charge of sharing information about NATO to various publics to better understand the organization. She gave a very professional, formal presentation that was quite informative from a background and understanding perspective. It was a great introduction into the lives of the next two individuals who have the responsibility of communicating on the behalf of NATO to other high priority nations, organizations, and corporations.
Tony White, a representative in the media operations center, spoke to us about his long history with public affairs, from the military to more than twenty years with NATO. With an organization like NATO, Tony stressed the importance of being as frank and candid as possible when dealing with news releases or public diplomacy for nations. Working with a multitude of nations around the world, there is nothing more valuable than trust when communicating potentially in hostile environments. It is also important, for organizations like NATO, to be very direct and clear in the way they communicate across borders. He also spoke about handling NATO occurrences that may be headed for a news media story. In maintaining healthy professional relationships with journalists, sometimes the public affairs division can work to ensure that stories told and retold remain true and factual by giving information direct from the source.
When we spoke with Oana Lungescu, however, we understood the true meaning of being a global communication leader. Oana was sprinting from meeting to meeting, running 20 minutes late due to her meeting with a Japanese ambassador and leaving abruptly to make another important meeting. The sheer fact that she took time to answer questions for our communications cohort from thousands of miles away was astounding. She spoke about the future and forward-thinking, perhaps because she had just met with Japan, a nation that does not qualify as “Atlantic” therefore not under governance of the treaty. A perfect blend of personality and professionalism, Oana’s busy schedule and communications history were entertaining during every minute of her presentation.
With structured, formal, governmental organizations, it is easy to fall victim of the politically correct, safe communications that are generally expected from such organization. It was exciting to see someone like Oana in a leadership role, with an untraditional background and an excitement to boot. While less interested in the public affairs sector of communication and global laws and more interested in public relations and organizational communication, this trip opened my eyes to how fun and exciting it could be to work within an organization with such global reach.