Apocalypse Advertising: Prepper/Patriot PSYOP Primer, Part Two
In the previous installment of this article series, we briefly discussed some of the foundational concepts for effective psychological operations, and introduced the seven-step PSYOP process. In this article, we will begin to discuss the seven steps in more detail.
Before we begin however, it is important to understand that, inherent to successful PSYOP, is some level of organization. To the public perception, one guy producing PSYOP by himself is a Ted Kaczynski. Even at the local community level, it is too easy to alienate and discredit one dude all by his lonesome. On the other hand, even a small group of individuals, focusing their message and product—through a variety of vehicles and to a broad cross-section of different target audiences, becomes a force to be reckoned with, quite quickly. Even if one member of the cell or organization is rendered inoperable (killed, wounded, detained, etc), the ability of the others within that organization to continue producing effective PSYOP product not only is not necessarily impeded, but it simultaneously confirms to the public perception that their IS an organization behind the messages.
People don’t fear outlaw bikers as individuals—well, okay, SOME people don’t fear outlaw bikers as individuals. Sane people, even experienced fighters, fear—or at least maintain a healthy respect for—the strength of the pack represented by outlaw bikers. That is the strength that says, “You don’t fight any of us—you fight ALL of us!” In short, PSYOP product produced by some hillbilly in his basement bunker will not be successful unless it is perceived—correctly or not—as product that is produced and backed by an effective GROUP of individuals. Step one of producing effective PSYOP, even before you start the seven-step process? HAVE A FUCKING TRIBE!
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
I am sure Sam Culper, at GuerrillAmerica, has written on IPB. I’m unable—at the time of writing this—to go look, but you should check and see. Either way, this is another interpretation of that. Without understanding the context within which you are trying to communicate, you’re not going to be able to communicate your messages to the target audience. It doesn’t do me much good to stand in the front yard and yell at my ninety year old, deaf neighbor who lives three miles away. It doesn’t matter if I’m saying something he wants to hear or not. If I send him an email though (ironically enough), he will respond to the message quickly. Likewise, posting “PSYOP Product” in my comments, or on WRSA, or anywhere else on the Liberty-themed blogosphere is NOT going to have an effect on the average citizen who has never even heard of WRSA. YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE BATTLE SPACE!
Step One: Define the Battlefield
In order to begin defining the battlefield, as it applies to your PSYOP efforts, you have to focus your intelligence collection requests or efforts, on characteristics of the battlefield that will influence the PSYOP-specific aspects of both friendly and hostile forces. This is an advancement on the basic, tactical-level METT-TC. Enemy troops information needs to answer questions that will allow the PSYOPs production elements to target specific elements within the enemy with targeted PSYOP. The same MAY apply to friendly forces, in order to maintain morale. OBVIOUSLY, the civil considerations need to include non-combatant personnel within the battlespace that will provide the PSYOP production team with target audience information.
At the same time, you have to establish limits of the area of interest. I want x,y,z information, but I’m not interested in t,u,v. This allows the intelligence collection—or analysis—teams to only provide the PSYOP element with useful information, rather than flooding them with a whole bunch of shit that is completely irrelevant to their needs, inundating them with data they have to filter through before they can even begin real production. This means identifying gaps in the current intelligence information collections. “Hey dude, I know this, and this, and that, but what I really need to find out about the local Elks Lodge is xxxxx? Can you get me that information from your sources?”
Step Two: Describe the Battlefield’s Effects
This is where the analysis of the PSYOP-specific METT-TC information is actually analyzed. Using the information provided by intelligence collection, you can begin analyzing target audiences (which methods and messages will get our points across most effectively?), as well as terrain factors (besides human terrain factors, physical terrain will play a factor here as well. In thickly wooded, steep mountain terrain, with widely separated populations, loudspeakers may be of limited application, versus in a built-up area. In a place where the literacy rate is non-existent, leaflet efforts might be limited to simple pictographs, etc).
Step Three: Evaluate the Threat
This is your propaganda and information operations analysis. Who in the operational area is producing what propaganda? How well does it seem to be working? What will you need to do to counter it?
Step Four: Courses of Action
While generally speaking, step four of IPB is “Threat COA,” this is where you can actually start producing your PSYOP product, because you’ve taken the time and made the effort to actually learn what you needed to learn to target an effective message at a valid, viable target audience.
Evaluate The Threat
For better or for worse, and love them or hate them, the media, including news broadcasts, literary, and internet, play an important part in our society. The increasing availability throughout the work day, of media and information networks like Facebook and other social media, through smart phones and the prevalence of computers and internet in the workpace, has a profound impact on the propagandization of the civilian populace. PSYOP producers must understand the role of the media and its perception, AS IT AFFECTS A SPECIFIC TARGET AUDIENCE. This is one of the biggest issues I have with the “I don’t use Social Media” attitude. Social media, as a conduit to what is going on in the world of news, politics, television, and music, can provide important—and exploitable—themes, symbols, and myths of our culture and society.
Some time ago, I posted a photo on my Facebook page, with a quote accredited to Michelle Bachman, about English being good enough for Jesus (because her Bible is in English), so it should be good enough for anyone. I noted that this was the kind of stupidity that kept me from supporting Neo-Con Republicans. Unfortunately, I did not pursue due diligence, and verify that Bachman actually said that…and she didn’t (at least not on the date attributed. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that she did say something that ignorant, thruthfully….), as was pointed out to me, rather acidly (just kidding….it was a reader who pointed it out to me….). The point is, the image of the Neo-Con as a Bible-Thumping reactionary who speaks without thinking, and sometimes with no idea of what the fuck they are talking about, is believable, because their opposition has made a conscious effort to trumpet it, every time it happens. It is, in many—not even only in evil-liberal-democrat-voting-cannibalistic San Franciscan circles—commonly accepted that anyone aligned with the mainstream Republican party, is a Neo-Con, and is an idiot, for that very reason. It is an exploitable theme, because—to some degree, let’s admit it—it’s true.
In order for it to be exploitable though, it has to be “important” in that it has to be a commonly-shared belief within the specific target audience (I am about 90% sure I first saw the meme in question on a Libertarian FB page….).
METT-TC Media Assessment Questions of Relevance
- What are the key radio and television stations and networks within the community? Obviously, in a world of inexpensive satellite and cable, many will be common to any community (I’ve seen HBO and CNN on lodge televisions in remote Bush Alaska….)?
- Who owns the station and controls the programming? What kind of programming do they offer? There are lots of programs on television—and even some big-money Hollywood movies—that are not the same pro-government pap that we are all accustomed to considering from the major producers. From zombie-themed shows that have opened the “cool guy” door to young adults and teenagers owning guns and prepping, to movies like the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that has “Cap” voicing some of the same concerns about the security vs. liberty questions that all of us voice. Who is allowing stuff like that to be produced and aired? Can we get our messages into THEIR hands?
- Is it possible to buy advertising time or programming?
- Who—indirectly controls the viewpoints reflected in their programming? Are they pro-government or anti-government? (Let’s face it, FoxNews is decidedly not anti-government. They’re not even anti-big government. They’re just anti-Democrat…as long as it keeps their ratings up.) For most national television providers, this is a no-brainer. Same for public television. What about local radio and locally-owned stations however?
- What are the effective broadcast ranges? What major terrain features affect transmission? For example, out here in the mountains, some radio stations might have extremely high power transmissions, but can only be heard ten miles from their broadcast, because of intervening terrain. It wouldn’t do me much good to pay for advertising on a station that my target audience lives thirty miles from, would it?
- What format and type of pre-recorded messages can the stations broadcast? What WILL they broadcast? Can we produce those types and formats of messages?
- What is the listening or viewing audience of that station? While it’s not a huge issue where I live, since even the hard rock stations’ listeners will at least be familiar with country music icons, somewhere like Chicago, having Clay Walker’s voice read a message supporting your efforts played on the hip-hop stations would be pretty fucking pointless, wouldn’t it?
- If talk radio or a call-in television program, what subjects for discussion are popular and common? What topics are taboo or avoided? For all of his rural Nevada ranching charm (and I genuinely like the guy), someone should have pointed out to Clive Bundy that, as soon as he brought race into the conversation, even obliquely as he did, people were going to take it out of context, AND distort the message.
- Is the station credible in the eyes of the population? Does perceived credibility differ by economic background, social group, religion, or other social factors? Yes, Democrats watch FoxNews, and listen to AM talk radio hosts like Glenn Beck and Rush….but those guys don’t have CREDIBILITY as news sources for the average cannibalistic San Franciscan who listens only to scream obscenities at the radio during the broadcast…paying for a PSYOP message, aimed at them, on that AM station, during those broadcasts is not going to have credibility with the target audience.
- What are the peak viewing or listening hours for the target audiences? “Don’t target working class stiffs from 9-to-5 local,” might seem to make sense initially…unless the target audience is construction workers who may very well have a radio blasting on the job site throughout the day (every house framing crew I’ve ever worked on over the last twenty-five years has—invariably—had the local rock station blaring throughout the day).
- What is the major printed media within the operational area? Do you know the local mainstream and “underground” or—more accurately in many cases (for people in the Pacific Northwest, think the Willamette Weekly in Portland, for example) “alternative” papers? How influential is printed media within different target audiences?
- Who controls the print media? Can ads be purchased? Can editorials be submitted? In what languages is the print media produced (think about it, there are boatloads of Vietnamese refugee families who are opposed to any level of collectivism beyond the family/community level, since they already fled that shit once—yes, that rather tasteless pun was completely intentional…and it made you laugh, didn’t it? Can you access the local Viet language alternative papers and magazines?)?
- What is the local standard for outdoor media? Are billboards, posters, handbills, or flyers used? How sophisticated are the outdoor media? In some places, nothing but billboards will be the norm. In larger urban areas however—and especially on college campuses—flyers, handbills, and even banners, are commonplace. Can we purchase/rent billboard space, or are we limited to smaller production methods? Which will be more effective? Do we have the artists and graphic designers to produce products that will get attention, or will it just be one more piece of clutter?
- Are there mailing lists that can be accessed that target specific target audiences (the answer is a resounding YES!!!!)? Can we produce a mass flyer, in such a way that the recipients will actually look at it, instead of just tossing it in the round file with all the other “junk mail?”
- Which leads to our next question—is printed media credible in the eyes of the population? Does perceived credibility differ by social factors? Yes. How many of us even bother looking at the mass-mail circulars that show up in our mailboxes, let alone take the time to read them? On the other hand, for some people, a hand-addressed envelope, with an actual typed letter inside, might be read, if just so the recipient can figure out who the fuck sent them real mail for a change!
- How literate are people within the target audience in the operational area? This doesn’t JUST mean the actual ABILITY to read, but also the willingness to read. I can’t count the number of working class people I’ve met, throughout the South and West, who will tell you—with a straight face—that they just don’t read. Period. “I ain’t read a book since I graduated high school! I don’t even read my mail!”
- What media do people within the target audience trust most for obtaining information. How accessible is that media to our efforts and abilities? FoxNews is the “most watched cable network on television” and apparently a LOT of people really do consider it “fair and balanced” (morons) and thus, credible. John Mosby’s MountainGuerrilla is NOT going to be able to produce a commercial for FoxNews, let alone afford the cost of advertising, even if FoxNews would be willing to air said commercial.
- What are the key symbols within the country? Do they differ by target audience group? What are the visual and written taboos that might negatively affect the target audience response when they look at print or other visual PSYOP products? Posting a photo of beheaded or gunshot victims of totalitarianism—while laudable and important, if just for educational purposes—on the pillars on a children’s playground is NOT going to fly well with most parents. Hell, I let my kid see some pretty graphic stuff, and I would be pissed. On the other hand, distributing old Schoolhouse Rock DVDs (available for purchase anywhere they sell DVDs. We bought them for the TMO the other day), or Liberty’s Kids DVDs, through a PTA/PTO organization “gift bag” type of effort, might be a great way to start educating youth…especially if the parents sit down to watch it too, out of nostalgia (we certainly did!).
- What internet or websites are popular and commonly accessed within the local area? Craigslist is broken down into relatively local sections, and everywhere we’ve lived over the last decade has had area-specific websites, including forums and bulletin boards. What are their policies and stands on the type of information you want to transmit to your target audiences? Are members of your target audience going to be active on those forums? Are the forumites a specific target audience themselves?
Target Audience Assessment (TAA)
The target audience assessment, as we’ve discussed, is the SINGLE MOST CRITICAL ASPECT of PSYOP planning and production. It is a detailed, systematic examination of selected target audiences in order to determine how to persuade one specific target audience to affect one specific behavioral change. It is NOT an overview sketch of the target audience and will not provide a general overview of all aspects and social factors pertaining to a target audience. It’s just about how to get ONE response out of ONE target audience.
Because of this, while there may be multiple specific objectives (SPO—specific PSYOPs objectives) supporting one general objective (PO—PSYOP objective), a new target audience assessment will need to be done for every single SPO. Suddenly, rather than a cool way to get a “general message” across, using your artistry and creativity, PSYOP becomes a fucking job, huh?
At it’s basic level, your TAA is intended to answer four basic, fundamental questions:
- What TA(s) will be most effective in accomplishing the desired behavioral or attitudinal responses? You can’t make a leopard change his spots. Targeting a bunch of fat bastards to get off the couch and do PT doesn’t work particularly well (ask me how I know), but aiming the message at the specific target audience of people that are serious about survival and will do whatever it takes, no matter how uncomfortable, may convince those people who are not lazy, but simply don’t know what to do, that they need to do sprints, weightlifting, and conditioning. (Which leads us to the uncomfortable dawning of realization that EVERYTHING you read, to one degree or another, is a PSYOP product…).
Likewise, trying to convince a bunch of flaming liberal hippie pacifist fuckers that they need to put the bong down and go kill some statist thugs is not going to work particularly well. Aiming that message at outlaw bikers and street gangs however—or better, a bunch of pissed off at the VA recently returned combat veterans who realize that their brothers are being left to die—combined with the message that they are not the only ones who will be drawing hostile fire that day…..
- What lines of persuasion will influence the target audience? Nobody likes to be threatened with physical, bodily harm. Some people are big enough pussies that it works, and they will be suitably coerced by the threat of “Fuck with me, and I’ll kick your ass.” As Americans, most of us—even those who are delusional about it—see ourselves as the legitimate heirs of hardy, courageous pioneer stock who thumbed their noses at a totalitarian regime and went off into the frontier to eke out a living from the land. We’re fucking independent and free, man!
The Fourth of July just happened. We went with friends to watch the local fireworks show, that happened to be synched with music from one of the local stations (see the relationship to the above portions of this article?). It was an awesome show, with some pretty cool pyro going off. The spoken messages throughout however, were “We’re grateful for our veterans who have died so we can be free.” I turned at one point to my friend (also a veteran) and went, “Fuck me. The last American serviceman to die for American freedom was in 1865. Who are they fooling?” The problem is, keying on that THEME of patriotism and freedom; that patriotism IS freedom, rather than the other way around, works on most Americans. “Rah! Rah! Shish-Boom-Bah!”
Hell, if I’m honest, I STILL get choked up and sing along when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful! The point though, is telling someone they’re un-American and un-patriotic, or threatening to kill their families, is not the message that will persuade most Americans, regardless of how vocally they support the United Nations and “one-world government.”
Instead, you have to look at the values of the target audience and figure out what they believe, and how that can be turned to get them to perform the behaviors you want/need them to pursue. I get chastised by readers/commentators often, for my use of vulgarity, and I never let it bother me. I certainly don’t change my language. Why is that? Because my specific target audience—the same people who will actually get off their ass and do PT—aren’t going to be bothered by my foul language (I can’t count the number of times in comments and emails, I’ve had to tell some moron “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!” because they’ve bothered to tell me they cannot read my blog anymore because they find my language offensive….)
- What media will effectively carry the chosen line of persuasion? Is the television the best method, or radio? Perhaps the internet media sources, or social networking sites? Is face-to-face contact the best way to deliver it? Which of the probably effective media is achievable for your assets?
- What event(s) will indicate success or failure of the PSYOP effort? Here’s a newsflash for you. I consider the 2012 presidential elections to have been a PSYOP success for our side. Now, wait before you start hanging me in effigy. It’s not because President Obama was relected. It’s because Mitt Romney wasn’t. In fact, there were two successes in the 2012 elections.
–Number one: With POTUS retaining the White House, all those middle-class, white, suburban, soccer mom Republicans who are scared of what the Commie in the Chair is going to do…they stay scared. Had he been replaced by Romney, most of those would have gone back to complacency land, sticking their heads in the sand, because “our guy” got in. Everyone “knows” Republican presidents reduce the deficit and reduce big government….right? (This is me falling off my chair and holding my sore abs as I laugh myself sick). They’re still pissed off and scared, which means some of them are still looking at alternative sources of news, and stockpiling preparedness items, even if they’re not training and using them yet.
–Number Two: The GOP had to lock Ron Paul’s supporters-delegates out of the convention! When in the HELL has that ever happened before? Mitt was the media favorite to win the nomination, right? Dr. Paul didn’t stand a chance of getting the nod. So, why bother locking them out? Because, the party bosses KNEW that Dr. Paul had one hell of a good shot at getting the nomination, and THAT would have fucked up their program.
How did it happen? Because the anti-big government, anti-status quo in Washington groups—people like us—managed to convince enough people that Dr. Paul was a viable solution to what is happening in DC, that he could have won the general election. All the Republicans would’ve voted for him, even if they disagreed with him on things like legalization of marijuana, and foreign interventions, simply because he had an “R” behind his name. All the libertarians who would NEVER, in ten million lifetimes vote for Mitt Romney, would have voted for Dr. Paul, DESPITE the “R” behind his name, as would the constitutionalists. Anti-abortion activists would have voted for Dr. Paul, because he’s openly pro-life. None of that is any real surprise….But…..
Ron Paul ALSO would have cut a HUGE chunk out of President Obama’s voter support. All the anti-war hippies who supported BHO in 2008, by 2012, they knew he was just as bloodthirsty as President Bush. Dr. Paul has been anti-interventionist since before his first day in politics, and has a consistent record of voting his conscience. All the pro-legalization potheads? They know now that, while BHO might tell his AG not to prosecute, he’s not interested in making waves with the criminalization syndicates by actively pursuing legalization either, whereas Dr. Paul has always stated—and voted—for the sanctity of the human body and private property. The same thing applies to gay and lesbian voters. BHO has NOT led his promised charge to institute gay marriage, for better or for worse. Dr. Paul on the other hand, says, “the government has no business being involved in marriage.”
The fact is, people from numerous target audiences—including people who would never step foot inside a Republican convention—KNEW that Dr. Paul would have made the best President. The GOP KNEW Dr. Paul would win the general. EVERYONE—except the morons who only got their election coverage from the major media networks and are incapable of critical thinking—knew Mitt Romney was not going to beat Barack Obama’s re-election. Now? More libertarian-leaning, legitimately freedom-loving (if sometimes confused by definitions of that) Republicans are being seriously contemplated as presidential candidates in 2016.
Obviously, the PSYOP campaign of the freedom lobby was not as successful as we might have liked, or Dr. Paul would be sitting in the Oval Office right now. It was however, a success in some degrees, because it opened a lot of people’s eyes to choices between the basic “Left versus Right” selection.
You have to determine, through your TAA, what YOU will consider a success or failure—and to what degrees—of your PSYOP production efforts.
(The next installment in this article series will look at the Target Audience Assessment process in greater detail, as well as the Target Audience Assessment Worksheet—TAAW.)