STAFFORD, Va. --
Fifteen marketing and public affairs representatives from around the country attended MPA Course 10-2 here September 7-17.
An MPAR is a public affairs Marine assigned to each of the 48 recruiting stations across the country. The course was designed to teach the Marines communication skills and give them a better understanding of their role at their assigned recruiting station.
An MPARs responsibilities include getting Marine Corps public service announcements broadcasted on radio and television stations, organizing events for recruiters, handling media queries and preparing command group members for interviews with media to name a few.
In the often stressful world of recruiting, MPARs play a key role in helping find qualified applicants to join the Marine Corps.
According to Master Gunnery Sgt. Kelvin Jackson, the National Training Team chief, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, MPARs have a critical role in the recruiting process. Jackson knows better than most, having worked in recruiting for over 13 years.
“MPARs are a key source in getting the word out,” said Jackson. “In a lot of ways, they’re just as critical as recruiters.”
“This course helps MPARs understand the recruiting process from start to finish,” said Jackson. “It allows MPARs to see the process of taking applicants from the couch to the yellow footprints.”
One reason MPARs play such an important role is because they organize events to make it possible for recruiters to meet potential applicants. They do this by finding events, negotiating with vendors for the best possible booth space and providing appropriate materials to recruiters.
To more effectively execute their duties, Marines in the course learned professional selling skills and intercommunication skills. These skills will enhance an MPARs ability to negotiate such things as public service announcement airtime, booth space at events and make MPARs more effective at communicating with recruiters and command group members.
“Intercommunication skills are an important thing for MPARs to take from this course,” said Jackson.
“Professional selling skills apply in everything I do as an MPAR, from talking to media to trying to get better booth space for recruiters,” said Sgt. Scott Biscuiti, the MPAR at Recruiting Station Baltimore. “I’ve also learned ways to tell the command group what an MPAR can do for the recruiting station.”
After learning communication skills during the first week of the course, the Marines moved forward into advertising and public affairs classes during the second week.
For the advertising portion, Marines were shown tools that will help them market the Marine Corps and got a chance to preview the latest Marine Corps public service announcement. The most active discussion during the advertising section was concerning social networking sites and what recruiters are and are not allowed to use them for.
Skills to ease the stress of their job and make them more effective at what they do were welcomed by the Marines. Like a recruiter, an MPAR often finds themselves working long hours during the week and weekends to achieve their recruiting stations mission.
In most cases, MPARs check into their recruiting stations without and knowledge of what their job requires from them.
“You don’t know the duties and responsibilities when you arrive from the fleet,” said Biscuiti. “Only a few sergeants’ billets have more responsibilities than an MPAR.”
According to Biscuiti, there is a short turnover period where the incoming MPAR can learn from the outgoing MPAR, but in his case it was only for a month.
Almost all the Marines in the course came with on-the-job-experience; some for only a month, others with over a year at their recruiting station.
“There’s a benefit either way, taking the class before or after checking in. Being an MPAR for six months gave me more insight into what was being taught,” said Sgt. Robert Durham, the MPAR at Recruiting Station San Francisco.
No matter their time in the billet, however, it was helpful to all. The course gave MPARs a clear understanding of their duties and showed them different assets at their disposal that they may not have known about.
“This was the most relevant class I’ve taken in my Marine Corps career,” said Durham.
“It’s invaluable information. I’m more confident being an MPAR and doing my job. It’s one of the most helpful classes I’ve taken,” said Biscuiti.