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Aging NATO seeks help from bloggers to connect with Gen Z

Aging NATO seeks help from bloggers to connect with Gen Z

Like most 75-year-olds, NATO needs help reaching the younger generation.

The military alliance this week is struggling with topics such as the war in Ukraine or the health of the US president. To stay relevant in the modern age, she has turned to a group of 20 bloggers to spread her message.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization invited 16 influencers from countries including the UK, Germany and France with followers on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms to attend its summit in Washington on July 9-11. 10 other influencers from the US will come at the invitation of the US Department of Defense and State.

The move is a capitulation to the fact that traditional media outlets, which are providing coverage of the summit, may not be reaching Gen Z.

It also shows how legacy institutions like NATO must increasingly think outside the box to shore up public support — especially at a time when former President Donald Trump and other Republicans are pushing for the U.S. to cut European defense spending. .

The alliance paid for the bloggers' travel expenses, but exercises no editorial control over their posts and will not pay them an extra fee for them, according to its spokesman Tom Peyre-Costa.

He did not confirm the names of the invited influencers, but NATO's official social media accounts featured an explanatory video about the origins of the alliance, narrated by 25-year-old social media sensation Anthony Polcari.

"Creators will be given the opportunity to participate in the NATO Public Forum and engage with numerous experts and senior NATO and allied officials," Peyre-Costa said in an email. And this is not the first attempt. A group of content creators visited NATO headquarters in Brussels in April on its 75th anniversary. A similar program was organized in 2022.

Polcari said in an interview that he was invited to help with the intro video, but was unable to join the influencer program during the summit due to a scheduling conflict. He believes content creators like him can help get NATO's message across to a generation on the brink of power.

"Our generation will take the reins of power very soon. Many people, much smarter than me, will lead this country,” he said. 'I think it is the duty of these organizations to make sure that the younger generations know what they do.'

The necessary organization

At the Canadian embassy in Washington on Tuesday, a 22-year-old Amanda Round sat in the media section listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's speech on the security implications of climate change. She listened carefully, considering how to convey the day's events to her 161,700 followers on TikTok.

Round said members of her generation don't really consume traditional media, especially if it's paid. They tend to get their information from social media, she said.

She has seen misinformation spread like wildfire and sees the invitation from NATO as an important opportunity to help her audience – mostly girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 – understand the importance of NATO.

"I believe it's a necessary arrangement, obviously in our political climate right now in terms of defense, but also in terms of other potential threats, such as climate change," she said in an interview. 'I would encourage young people to engage with it more.'

The group of about 30 influencers in Washington this week has an audience of about 40 million followers on social media channels, a State Department spokesman said in an email.

"We know that more and more people are reading news through social media channels, including bloggers," the spokesperson said. 'During the NATO Summit, we are engaging with these voices to reach additional audiences and explain the importance of the alliance and its 75th anniversary.'