The approach being taken by the US Air Force, and increasingly by other US government agencies, is that all of their staff are public relations spokespeople and if properly equipped will support their agencies in engaging the public online.
The US Air Force regard this spokesperson role as so important to their future operations that they've produced a video and book emphasising to their staff how critical is it for airmen to participate online in blogs and forums, and setting out the guidelines for how they may do so in an appropriate manner.
This approach to engagement is discussed in a post in the Local Government Engagement Online Research Blog entitled Great Video & eBook of the U.S. Air Force using New/Social Media, which considers the Air Force's initiatives as,
truly an inspiring example of how we could use new/social media when we start using these tools with our head and heart rather than using policies or rules and regulations as our starting point. For me, new/social media can only be successful when it has or creates and invigorates meaning in our lives and to the lives of people who use them. And most important of all, the value of social media lies in the people, not the technology. Then the connections made and communities created will then generate greater services and value than we could ever think of.
The video below was originally developed for Air Force personnel to encourage them to use new media to 'win the information war' by providing positive messages about the Air Force to counter negative messages distributed online by enemies of the United States.
And the ebook developed by the US Air Force is available online as New Media and the Air Force (PDF).
Given the political sensitivity and national security implications of defense forces, if the US Air Force's acting director of public affairs, Colonel Michael G. Caldwell (also a blogger at From an Air Force Colonel), is prepared to state publicly that "We want 330,000 people to be in Public Affairs," (reported in the WebInkNow post The U.S. Air Force and social media: A discussion with Colonel Michael Caldwell), what is stopping any government agency with less political or secrecy sensitivities from engaging at least as actively as the US Air Force?