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Press Service Offers Readers Chance to Evaluate, Talk Back

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

Washington, June 25, 1999 – Washington - Are we providing military service members with information they need? Do our articles and Web sites help them understand why they're doing what they're doing? Are we making a difference?

Those are just a few of the questions that prompted the American Forces Information Service to recently add a new feature at the end of each press service article published on DefenseLINK. Beginning June 14, a "What Do You Think" section began appearing at the bottom of each story (an example is at the end of this one).

"Too often in the military, information moves in only one direction," said Col. Jack Kehoe, director of information operations for AFIS. "We wanted feedback from our readers - service members and their families, civilian employees and even the general public. This new section makes it easy for them to let us know how we're doing and what we can do to improve."

Kehoe said the section lets readers quickly indicate with the click of a mouse how useful they found the information in an article. It also includes an e-mail function that offers readers the opportunity to provide a more detailed response.

The AFIS press service publishes approximately 600 articles a year covering DoD policies, programs and missions. It also produces World Wide Web publications called "Cyber Spots" that combine graphics, imagery and text to provide information on subjects that directly affect the lives and missions of service members such as the impact of Y2K, humanitarian operations and military child care.

"It's not enough for us to support the information goals of the senior DoD leadership, said Kehoe. We also have to meet the information needs of our readers. This new feedback section is an important step toward meeting those needs."

The section also asks readers to identify what audience sector they're from and whether they plan to re- publish an article. The data will be used to track specific audience interests and evaluate distribution trends.

"Our primary goal is a well-informed military," Kehoe said. "But we can't provide that service by operating in a vacuum. We need the input from all of our readers so we can tailor our products."

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