Continuing my First Contact writeup:
6. Do not interfere in the political, social, or other development of the target society any more than the fact of your existence, presence, and contact already interferes. Work within the present structures, being broadminded where ambiguity exists
. If there is not a single global government, for example, do not insist on a single global representative or leader. If there is a global inter-governmental organization (as in the case of the UN of Earth's 20th and early 21st centuries), refer to provided or collected intelligence data: Can that organization get global leaders together credibly (and preferably under cover of another rationale) on short notice, or at least assemble representatives of leadership (such as diplomats) on short notice? If social customs exclude, for example, women from leadership, do not force their inclusion. (At the same time, respect those customs yourself, to the extent possible and sane.)
7. Once you initiate contact (or once they initiate contact), you are committed. Period, end of sentence, end of paragraph, end of story. There is no "going back to the way things were", there are no "do-overs", there is no way to "erase their memories of what has occurred". There is, in short, no way to "recork the genie". Hence, be very careful when choosing to initiate contact - up until the moment, the instant the signal is sent or they have a confirmed sighting of you, there are ways to delay contact or leave them with only suspicions.
8. If contact is initiated by Federation assets, the Federation Diplomatic Service member assigned should "take the lead" and "be the face" of the contact, if at all available. If the FDS member assigned is not available, then the Starfleet FCO unit leader should assume that role; only if neither are available should a ship's Commanding Officer assume the role. If contact is initiated by local personnel, the same principles apply to the reply, except that if nobody else is available then the highest ranking Starfleet member should make the reply. This fact should underline the importance of regular training in First Contact procedures for all personnel likely or even probable to be the "first face" of the Federation.
9. The person who begins contact (or recieves contact) remains in "the lead" until and unless explicitly relieved by higher personnel, with the knowledge and concurrence of interlocutors among the target species as well as the lower ranked Federation lead. (Most species that achieve FTL travel readily understand the idea of replacing a lower-ranked person who happens to make or receive contact with a higher-ranked (or at least equal-ranked) and more-qualified person for regular communications, but make absolutely sure that the lower-ranked person makes appropriate and necessary introductions - and never reverse the order, having a higher-ranked person hand off to one of lower rank, unless absolutely necessary.) They may have established a rapport especially with the person who made (or received) contact.
10. Limit how much they have to take in: Don't use a transporter, use a shuttlecraft if you can, to transport personnel. Don't use a replicator when you can cook real food. In short: When dealing with the target species, limit to the best extent possible how much they have to get used to (at one time) beyond the facts of "there are other species out there" and "those species have FTL travel too". That's plenty to get used to. [I fully imagine that, where the UFP intends to make the first move, they deploy ships that are capable of everything modern operations require, but that can also, for example, not use replicators (and not suggest the existence of same). This helps limit the shock the utterly bewildered locals have to experience, and lets the Federation personnel "ease them in" to the idea of higher technology over timeframes longer than a First Contact.]
11. If the leadership decides to reveal the existence of Extraterrestrial life to the populace, take the opportunity, if contact was not established by the assigned FDS Member, to have the FDS member take the lead for Federation contact, with leadership and the public alike, if at all possible. (It would be the rare leader in an FTL-capable society that does not grasp the importance of having a diplomat, rather than a Starfleet member in uniform, be the "First public face" of the Federation to the public. If you need to explain it, though, do so, as diplomatically as possible. Repeatedly, if need be.) If the FDS Member is not available, then the Starfleet FCO unit leader should take the lead, making sure to appear from that point forward only in appropriate civilian clothing, particularly in public (except as circumstances or local customs dictate). This hand-off should occur during planning for the announcement
, keeping FDS, Starfleet FCO, and ship personnel involved in the planning process. FDS Members assigned to First Contact, as well as Starfleet FCO personnel, are trained in "public relations". If neither FCO or FDS personnel are available (for example, if contact is initiated by the target world, or through OT personnel), try to delay the public revelation of extraterrestrial life for as short a period as necessary until assigned, trained, and briefed FCO (or preferably FDS) personnel are able to take the lead on planning the announcement. [PR matters when you're an ET saying "Hi" for the first time to a planetary population. It is in the Federation's interest that they have a diplomat take the lead (for the Federation) in assisting the planning of the announcement of ET life, and in actually saying "Hello" on behalf of the Federation. If not a diplomat, then a Starfleet member, trained in First Contact...Preferably not appearing on-camera in uniform. If either getting the diplomat or changing into civilian clothes requires a short delay, history will forgive you.]
12. If FCO or FDS personnel are not available, try your best to avoid
the public announcement of the existence of extraterrestrial life, or even the hint of it. (It would be very rare that local leadership does not see the wisdom of this, once you explain that you are not trained for what an announcement would require. This is not at all a task for a Starfleet member to take on without the required training and preparation, ever - it is simply too important, too high-risk, to improvise.)
13. If the public is not to be informed, then exit the area
as soon as practicable. Pull back all Federation assets to beyond the confirmed limit of civilian sensors, both ground and space-based, but keep in regular discreet contact with planetary leaders, both to keep appraised of their sensor capability and to keep relations going. (In layman's terms, give the local leadership a fighting chance to maintain plausible deniability with their press and their public.) When the decision is made to inform the public by the local leadership, you can then send in Federation personnel, discreetly, before the announcement to help plan and help make the announcement and introductions, always being careful to maintain planetary sovereignty and the appearance of the local leadership "having the lead".
14. The conduct of the introduction to the population, whether by Starfleet FCO or (preferably) FDS personnel, is to be accomplished only after detailed consultation between operations centers at Starfleet Command (San Francisco), FDS HQ (Paris), and the Executive Office of the President (Palais de la Concorde), and the Federation personnel "on the ground", on all related matters. These consultations must occur via secure subspace channels before
any announcement. [The FDS or Starfleet person saying "hello" on the ground really does represent the President of the UFP (in their role as Chief Diplomat), hence the inclusion of EOP; Meanwhile, you only get one shot to say "Hello" publicly, so hence the detailed consults, where probably every word likely to be said and every action likely to be performed by the UFP person on the ground gets scrutinized.] Again, as in points 11 and 12, it would be very unusual for local leadership not to understand the necessity of such consultations with higher headquarters - if doing it right means delaying the announcement, delay it if at all possible. You only get one shot.
15. Immediately after the announcement and media availability is complete, Federation personnel should all make a point of returning to their vessels, with the utmost politeness but the minimum delay. This refers to all personnel, without exception, under any circumstance. "Passengers" of any description are not to be taken - before departure, FDS and Starfleet personnel will privately ensure that planetary leadership (whether of a single world government, under the auspices of an intergovernmental organization, or under the auspices of allied powers) designate an individual to act as a diplomatic representative, accrediting that individual with full powers. One individual per planetary side - this representative is to be equipped with secure subspace communications with Earth, so as to facilitate the eventual establishment and maintenance of Federation diplomatic and consular relations with all powers on the target world. [To borrow from a 21st Century Earth context, this means that not only would there be a Federation representative accredited to the UN, but also one per country (or groups of really small countries).] Starfleet, once public announcement has been made, will assume a defensive posture around the target world until a planetary defense force is organized, trained, and equipped, either indigenously or with Federation support. [The Prime Directive does not mean the Federation is an interstellar jerk; if you're advanced enough to say hello to, the least Starfleet can do is protect your world until you can protect yourself. It may technically be interference, but it's done with local assent, and until Starfleet and the locals agree (usually the locals have to be nudged to agree, but sometimes they emulate Earth and "climb over the crib side") that they don't need the support, in a graduated fashion.]
Next post (please wait for it) will cover what happens in the medium to long term after First Contact, and what happens if FC is made when you aren't a "babe in the woods".