Army does battle on PR front
- By Dan Verton
- Feb 23, 2000
Faced with a significant recruiting shortfall that could have long-term
implications for future readiness, the Army is re-engineering its marketing
strategy and plans to award a contract to a public relations firm to help
it compete against today's vigorous Internet economy.
The Army fell 6,300 soldiers short of its fiscal 1999 recruiting goals and
missed its reserve recruitment goal by more than 10,000. The trend started
in fiscal 1997, when the Army was forced to lower its recruiting goal to
accommodate the lack of interest. It also missed its fiscal 1998 goal by
more than one percent.
The shortfalls mark "a matter of the highest public interest," according
to a Commerce Business Daily notice released on Wednesday.
"The market dynamics recruiters face today are as challenging as any faced
in the history of the All-Volunteer Force," the CBD notice stated. In fact,
a study published last year by Rand Corp. concluded that the private sector's
increased demand for workers with high-tech computer skills is partly to
blame for the lack of interest among college-bound students.
As a first step toward re-evaluating its recruitment strategy, the Army
has retained the assistance of Chicago-based Jones-Lundin Associates Inc.
to help it find the right advertising agency. The company will send out
market research questionnaires to select firms that have at least $350 million
in annual revenues and will help the Army interview perspective companies.
A spokesman for Army headquarters said the effort is part of a larger program
to refocus the Army's recruiting message and to make sure the service is
getting that message across to the right people. Once the Army gets people
to sign up, however, they tend to keep them longer, the spokesman said.
"Retention is a success story in the Army," the spokesman said. "We have
surpassed our retention goals every year for the last several years."