U.S. Army Reserve’s Janeen Phelps: ‘Put people first’

U.S. Army Reserve’s Janeen Phelps: ‘Put people first’

The public affairs officer and 1st Lieutenant shares tools that work well for her communications efforts and how she has found her calling as a comms pro with the U.S. armed forces.

What’s it like to be a communicator in the U.S. Military?

In her role, 1st Lt. Janeen Phelps is a storyteller serving a remarkable group of stakeholders: the men and women in uniform and the objectives of the U.S. Army. A public affairs officer with the U.S. Army Reserve, Phelps shared with us what a day in her life as a communicator looks like.

Here’s a sample of her takeaways from her day-to-day in a career of service:

1. What’s the first thing you do every day when you wake up?

Phelps: Every morning, I meditate with a good playlist of music. Then I read the Defense News Early Bird Brief to update myself on what is going on throughout the world so I can prepare myself for the day as an Army reserve public affairs officer.

2. Who is the most important person you talk to every day?

Phelps: The most important people I talk to every day would be my family. They keep me grounded, focused, and laughing.

1st. Lt. Janeen Phelps

3. When do you plan to go back into the office? Do you want to go back?

Phelps: As a member of the Army Reserve, I go to my “office” once a month. However, my job isn’t a “once a month” kind of job. That means I have to always stay informed when it comes to local, national and global news. Fortunately, I don’t have to be in the office to do that, but I do enjoy being able to go into the “office” to highlight what is going on in the lives of soldiers at the 650TH Regional Support Group (Sloan, Nevada).

4. What’s a new tool you have discovered that you just can’t live without?

Phelps: Dataminr is a new tool that I discovered as a new public affairs officer. The First Alert Dataminr emails use AI that allows me to stay informed about high-impact events and emerging risks in a way that is manageable.

5. What was your favorite work memory from the past year?

Phelps: Being on set to do voiceover as an animated version of myself for “The Calling,” the Army’s new animated video series that offers an exclusive look into the lives and stories of five soldiers and what led us to answer the call to serve. The campaign is designed to bridge the relatability gap between Generation Z and soldiers currently serving in the Army. I am proud to share my story through this campaign, and I hope it inspires others to consider the Army as an option to achieve their own dreams like I did. If people are interested in watching my story, they can see it here.

[RELATED: Submit your nominations for our Top Women in Communications Awards] 6. What has been the biggest “lesson learned” from 2020?

Phelps: One of the biggest lessons learned from 2020 would be readiness through resiliency. Being able to remain flexible was a constant reminder that as a soldier, we learn to adapt to challenges on a daily basis.

7. What’s your No.1 message to clients, co-workers or employees for 2021?

Phelps: My No. 1 message to co-workers for 2021 is that Army values includes having the emotional intelligence to put “people first.”

This includes being understanding when peers and subordinates adjust to challenges at a different pace than yourself. It means having the courage to provide leadership tailored to people in an environment that changes daily, especially when it comes to diversity of thought, experiences, upbringings, and influences.

8. What makes you hopeful about the future of PR?

Phelps: I am hopeful about the future of PR because I now see the many paths people can take to careers in the industry being showcased and highlighted more frequently. As seen in “The Calling,” I have been fortunate enough to be on both sides of the story as an entertainer and a soldier. I chose a path that has allowed me to pursue my passion to sing as well as my passion to serve. I am incredibly grateful to be able to serve my country in a field that I enjoy and in a manner that also allows me to tell the Army’s story.

As a public affairs officer in the Army Reserve, I am able to tell the stories of Soldiers that reflect the rich tapestry of the American public. Like the Army, the industry is making important strides every day.