The 24th Special Tactics Wing at Hurlburt Field recently filed a “sources sought” notice with federal government contracting website FedBizOpps signaling its interest in talking with a contractor qualified to improve the wing’s social media presence, and to measure the effectiveness of its digital outreach effort. Filing the “sources sought” notice does not necessarily indicate that the wing will hire a social media consultant.
HURLBURT FIELD — Much of its work is done in secret as part of military special operations teams, but the Air Force’s 24th Special Operations Wing nonetheless is thinking about how to better and more widely tell its story to social media audiences.
The 24th SOW’s public affairs office, based at Hurlburt Field, recently filed a “sources sought” notice on FedBizOpps, a federal contracting website, indicating its interest in searching the market for contractors capable of providing a wide range of guidance on improving the wing’s social media presence and measuring its performance in attracting viewers.
“We have been considering this for about a year now,” said Capt. Jaclyn Pienkowski, public affairs advisor at the 24th SOW, “as it has become a priority for our public affairs program to reach a broader audience.”
Currently, the wing has 62,000 “likes” at its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AirForceSpecialTactics/) and 17,000 followers on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/airforcespecialtactics/), according to Pienkowski. The wing does not have a Twitter account.
As the Air Force’s only Special Tactics wing, comprising a range of special skills including establishing airfields, airmen with the 24th SOW often are the first U.S. special operations personnel sent into crisis situations. They often are embedded with Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Army Rangers, providing capabilities ranging from combat air support to medical aid and personnel recovery, according to the Air Force.
The 24th Special Operations Wing comprises 1,000 Special Tactics operators and 650 support personnel in 29 locations around the globe. According to the Air Force, Special Tactics personnel have been involved in almost every major combat operation since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil.
“We are the most highly decorated community in the Air Force since the Vietnam War, yet many people still don’t realize the Air Force has a ground component — Special Tactics,” Pienkowski wrote in an email responding to a Daily News inquiry on the wing’s interest in boosting its social media presence.
“Our social media program is a way to get more information out to a broader audience about who we are and what we do,” she said.
The 24th SOW’s FedBizOpps notice, which appeared from July 29 to Aug. 6, was not an invitation to bid on providing social media services, but an effort by the wing to find contractors qualified to meet specific criteria listed in the notice.
Pienkowski said the 24th SOW had received some interest from the FedBizOpps notice, but she would not quantify the level of that interest. It is not yet known when, or even if, the 24th Special Operations Wing might officially solicit contractors for its outlined social media work, according to Pienkowski.
Specifically, the “sources sought” notice wanted potential contractors to have the capability to evaluate the 24th SOW’s social media and internet operations, provide weekly data on visits to its social media sites, train the public affairs staff in attracting social media visitors, and provide guidance on podcasts, mobile apps and “tools for sharing content virally … .”
The 24th SOW’s interest in boosting its social media presence and outreach isn’t the first time that a unit within the Hurlburt-headquartered Air Force Special Operations Command has surveyed its place in the digital landscape and taken steps to optimize it.
Col. Tom Palenske, who took command of the 1st Special Operations Wing, the host unit at Hurlburt Field, in 2016, turned a Facebook page previously put in place for the wing commander into a powerful tool for communicating with airmen, families and others across the installation and beyond.
By June of last year, when Palenske moved from the 1st SOW to the Pentagon, he had attracted more than 20,000 Facebook followers. In a 2018 interview, Palenske said, “People feel very empowered to tell me all kinds of things on Facebook, and I appreciate it. I get good stuff from the families, the spouses.”