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By Sgt. Gloria Kamencik
172nd Public Affairs Detachment
Soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard led a crisis communication workshop at the Army Home in Skopje, North Macedonia, Feb. 8-10.
“Crisis communication is about responding quickly with as much information as possible, as frequently as possible,” said U.S. Army Capt. Mike Arcovitch, public affairs officer for the Vermont National Guard. “A major challenge with crisis communication is knowing what is and what is not releasable public information.”
The three-day workshop focused on some basics of U.S. military public affairs, public speaking, strategic communication, and examples of crisis response. One of the main takeaways was the importance of presence, planning and practice.
“Presence is establishing yourself among specified publics. The first step to being an effective communicator is building and maintaining relationships across a variety of audiences,” said Arcovitch. “Trust is of paramount importance when you need to put information out rapidly — or any time, for that matter. The rules and culture is different in North Macedonia, but the importance of having an established and trusted presence remains critically important.”
Civilian organizations and the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia attended the event. The workshop also addressed interagency cooperation and examples in Vermont when multiple agencies had to work together.
“It was great to have Mike here to share his experiences from Vermont and talk about what they do,” said Gavro Markoski, a civilian public affairs professional from Skopje. “Gloria did a great job asking us questions like a reporter and videoing us. Overall, it was very enjoyable and helpful.”
The Vermont National Guard and North Macedonia have been partners under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program since 1993 and will continue this relationship with cooperative events and training.