As the director of press and spokesperson for the Peace Corps, Troy Blackwell is the organization's principal point of contact for media, generating coverage across 64 posts around the world.
Keeping up with that broad range of audiences in a rapidly changing media environment, he tells Doug Simon, requires "navigating change in a couple of different ways."
The first is what Blackwell calls "map language," which is about DEI and using inclusive language in the Peace Corps' communications. "We're modernizing the language we use. We're being more mindful of how we talk about service, how we talk about the work that we are doing, particularly volunteers on the ground."
Those volunteers, he says, play a pivotal role in communicating the organization's mission. "They go overseas, they serve for two years. They're integrated into their local communities. Again, they are working side by side with those partners and they come back and they're able to share the great stories. So, we use our returned volunteers as validators and ambassadors for the program."
Recruiting new volunteers is a priority, Blackwell says. "Our goal is to increase and recruit 5,000 volunteers over the next year. And so just being able to integrate the work that we are currently doing into our current campaign is how we keep the brand fresh and new and exciting for potential applicants and folks who just want to support the Peace Corps as a whole."
He also stresses the idea of the Peace Corps being a "thought partner" in the places where it operates. "We are coming in to select countries as a thought partner, we’re coming in to work side by side, not necessarily to lead on our own accord."
Making sure that audiences understand the nature of Peace Corps is important as well. "It is important to clean up any mischaracterizations. I think for us we are in a particular unique spot. Peace Corps is a federal government agency. We do enjoy bipartisan support. We don't engage in day-to-day politics, although we are a federal agency."
But the bottom line, Blackwell says, is getting across the "value of service. That's really our core message."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]