In a virtual ceremony from New York City June 10, U.S. Africa Command received the Public Relations Society of America’s prestigious Silver Anvil Award for the command’s strategic outreach efforts with Sudan and on the African continent.
PRSA annually awards the Silver Anvil to recognize the very best in strategic public relations planning and execution. According to PRSA, the Silver Anvil is awarded “to organizations that have successfully addressed challenging issues with “exemplary professional skill, creativity, and resourcefulness.” The award serves to “symbolize the forging of public opinion.”
U.S. Africa Command received the award in the “Community Relations, Government” category for its entry “U.S.-Sudan: Building a New Narrative Three Decades Later.”
“While the Coronavirus pandemic shut down activity around the world, U.S. Africa Command did not allow it to slow our engagement or lessen our commitment to partners on the African continent,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “Whether it was building new engagement opportunities or strengthening relationships with African partners, sustained public outreach reflects U.S. global leadership, values, and reflects the importance of Africa to U.S. national security interests.”
An engagement in Sudan in January provided a unique opportunity to reinforce the importance of new narratives, civilian-led governments, U.S. military values of accountability, rule of law, and human rights, as well as the importance to build and rejuvenate military-to-military relationships, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The engagement included senior level engagements, press conferences, the publication of several press releases, civic events, and amplification via social media products and outreach.
The comprehensive communication effort and model for public affairs engagement leveraged multiple communication products while synchronizing information across key organizations. The public affairs team drafted communication products and disseminated them through a variety of multimedia channels in multiple languages with pre-determined, emerging, and time-sensitive deadlines to amplify and connect with various audiences, enhancing community relations and understanding.
“Our team is focused on helping people understand U.S. Africa Command’s mission and its importance to U.S. and African security interests,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Chris Karns, director, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs. “The team looks for every opportunity to build understanding of U.S. Africa Command’s role and the critical importance of engagement in Africa. Engagements in Africa deliver tremendous value for America. This recognition is a tremendous team honor.”
The engagement was part of an overarching 53-country African country Public Affairs campaign plan nested in U.S. Africa Command strategy to advance U.S. interests, relationships, and partnership on the continent using a whole of U.S. government capability.
“What we do in Africa is important to America. Our actions reflect our values and interests in helping to build a more secure, stable, and prosperous Africa.” said Ambassador Andrew Young, Deputy to the Commander for Military Engagement. “This Public Affairs team ensures we share the story of these engagements and in so doing amplify the powerful effects of America’s partnerships with the African continent.”
More than 170 PRSA judges determine winning programs that meet the highest standards of performance in four phases of a public relations program: research, planning, execution and evaluation.
“We are very proud of our Public Affairs team here at U.S. Africa Command,” said Townsend. “This award is recognition of the great and professional job they have been doing to tell the story of the great work the U.S. armed forces do in Africa everyday.”
U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, with partners, counters malign actors and transnational threats, responds to crises, and strengthens security forces in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability and prosperity.