The Strasbourg I Kehl Summit declaration states that "it is Increasingly important that the Alliance communicates in an appropriate, timely, accurate and responsive manner on its evolving roles, objectives and missions. Strategic communications are an integral part of our efforts to achieve the Alliance's political and military objectives".
Today's information environment, characterized by a 24/7 news cycle, the rise of social networking sites, and the interconnectedness of audiences in and beyound NATO nations territory, directly affects how NATO actions are perceived by key audiences. That perception is always relevant to, and can have a direct effect on the success of NATO operations and policies. NATO must use various channels, including the traditional media, internet-based media and public engagement, to build awareness, understanding, and support for its decisions and operations. This requires a coherent institutional approach, coordination of effort with NATO nations and between all relevant actors, and consistency with agreed NATO policies, procedures and principles.
NATO Strategic Communications is the coordinated and appropriate use of NATO communications activities and capabilities in support of Alliance policies, operations and activities, and in order to advance NATO's aims. These activities and capabilities are:
- Public Diplomacy: NATO civilian communications and outreach efforts responsible for promoting awareness of and building understanding and support for NATO's policies, operations and activities, in complement to the national efforts of Allies
- Public Affairs: NATO civilian engagement through the media to inform the public of NATO policies, operations and activities in a timely, accurate, responsive, and proactive manner
- Military Public Affairs: promoting NATO's military aims and objectives to audiences in order to enhance awareness and understanding of military aspects of the Alliance
- Information Operations: NATO military advice and co-ordination of military information activities in order to create desired effects on the will, understanding, and capabilities of adversaries and other NAC-approved parties in support of Alliance operations, missions and objectives
- Psychological Operations: planned psychological activities using methods of communications and other means directed to approved audiences in order to influence perceptions, attitudes and behaviour, affecting the achievement of political and military objectives.
NATO strategic communications aim, as appropriate to circumstances and theatres, to:
a. Contribute positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities by incorporating strategic communications planning into all operational and policy planning;
b. Build, in close and lasting coordination with NATO nations, public awareness, understanding, and support for specific NATO policies, operations, and other activities in all relevant audiences; and
c. Contribute to general public awareness and understanding of NATO as part of a broader and on-going public diplomacy effort.