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APRIL 2012

The State of Communications


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GOVLOOPGUIDE

WELCOME/ CONTENTS

22 FourSquare 22 Quora 3 About the GovLoop Guide Series 22 LinkedIn 22 Blogging Overview 23 Crisis Management 4 Why Government Communications? 24 Mobility 25 About CitySourced GIS Applications Featured Government 26 27 About Esri Communications Initiatives 28 Customer Service 4 Featured Initiatives 29 Transparency Efforts 5 Federal: United States Marine Corps 6 State: State of Indiana 7 Local: Columbia County, GA

About GovLoop

10 Trends in Government Communications

Best of GovLoop: Top GovLoop Communications Resources 31 32

Creating an Effective Crisis Communications Plan 12 Hopes for 2012: Enhanced Adoption of Digital

8 Overview Technologies 9 Digital Divide 10 Culture Change Acknowledgements 11 Metrics 12 Excerpt From: Social Media Monitoring is Critical for 35 GovLoop Authors

Government Operations

13 Data Management 15 Social Media 15 Pinterest 17 Facebook 19 YouTube 19 Twitter 20 Google+


About GovLoop and the GovLoop Guide Series

GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 55,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers.

tion sharing among public sector professionals . GovLoop members come from across the public sector; including federal, state, and local public servants, industry experts as well as non-profit, associations and academic partners. In brief, GovLoop is the leading online source for addressing public sector issues.

The GovLoop community has been widely recognized across multiple sectors as a core resource for informa-

In addition to being an online community, GovLoop works with government experts and top industry partners to

produce valuable resources and tools, such as guides, infographics, podcasts, online training and educational events, all to help public sector professionals do their jobs better. GovLoop also promotes public service success stories in popular news sources like the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Government Technology, and other industry publications.

tions Council, whose members include, CitySourced and Esri.

The State of Communications Guide is underwritten by the GovLoop Communica-

Meet the team/ Acknowledgements Govloop Team:

Created & Developed by:

STEVE RESSLER - Founder and CEO

Location: GovLoop is headquartered in Washington D.C., where a team of dedicated professionals share a common commitment to connect and improve government.

DOUG MASHKURI - Director of Business Development PAT FIORENZA - Research Analyst JEFF RIBEIRA - Creative Director CORY MCCARREN - GovLoop Fellow ANDY KRZMARZICK - Community Manager

In Partnership with:

GovLoop 734 15th St NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 Fax: (202) 407-7501


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&

Overview Featured Stories The GovLoop State of Communications Report highlights the key trends surrounding communications in government, and provides insights from the GovLoop community about how these developments will shape government communications going forward.

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overnment communications professionals have always felt the pressures of publishing public news and information as quickly as possible. With the boom in social media, communications has become an even more critical function of government. Public relations officers are now faced with an expectation of being open 24/7/365, to deliver real-time information to citizens. As citizens have adopted social media in their personal lives, the expectation has increased for government engagement across a variety of web-based social platforms. Of course, communications extends well beyond just social media. There has been a boom in mobile technology, open innovation platforms, virtual worlds, geographical informational systems, greater transparency efforts and improved customer service strategies. A well-crafted communications strategy is now critical for government at all levels. Using multiple channels of communication is now essential for government to fulfill the most important initiatives within an agency. What is exciting about the development of new platforms and technology is that citizens are at the center of the discussion. With growing fiscal uncertainty, tightening budgets and pressures on

agencies to prove value in programs, communications has become a much-needed area of study.

Featured Stories At the very core of GovLoop, our passion is to highlight and honor public sector professionals. Because of this passion, GovLoop would like to honor government agencies at the state, local and federal level that are leaders in government communications. This year, we decided to feature three government organizations that are leaders in government communications at the state, local and federal level. The organizations highlighted where selected by GovLoop staff and were based on interactions within the GovLoop community and success stories our members have shared with us.


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The United States Marine Corps

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he Marine Corps is first to be featured in the GovLoop State of Communications Report. First of all, we thank all members of the Marine Corps and the armed services for their commitment to our country, their dedication to serve and their sacrifice for our lives and liberties.

Marine Corps Social Media Resources

The Marine Corps has a first class communications policy. The challenge for government agencies is that they need to make sure that their communications program is integrated across the agency, and their key stakeholders can quickly find the information. From their website layout to their published content, the Marine Corps does a great job sharing and promoting information to their audience.

http://www.facebook.com/marines

What put the Marine Corps at the top for the GovLoop team was their social media program. Across all channels, content is appropriately integrated and effectively represents the mission of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps also shares guides and resources for other military branches to use while crafting their own social media program. What is clear from the Marine Corps is that there is a strategy behind how they are using social media. The Marine Corps has designated areas for key audience segments. A perfect example of this comes from the Facebook page. On the page, prospective Marine Corps members can quickly contact a recruiter through a form on the “Contact a Recruiter” tab or connect with a Marine in their community, through the “Marine Connect” link. Both are quick and easy for users to find, and provide a great service to key stakeholders.

http://www.marines.mil/Pages/Default.aspx http://marines.dodlive.mil/ http://www.youtube.com/marines http://twitter.com/usmc http://www.flickr.com/marine_corps http://marinesmagazine.dodlive.mil/


The State of Indiana

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he State of Indiana has numerous initiatives that has made Indiana one of the leaders in communications at the state level. Once a citizen arrives at the State of Indiana website, they can quickly find information they need and are presented with numerous options on the webpage. Very quickly a citizen can subscribe to email alerts and connect with the State of Indiana across social channels. Citizens can also access the “Transparency Portal,” or receive help through a live chat. The design and layout is extremely intuitive and citizens can easily access the right information.

we look forward to sharing this information with you.” Data is presented visually and citizens can also access excel files with further information. Certainly, the Indiana government has made a conscious effort to improve transparency with citizens and provide them information on how tax money is being spent.

One of the more interesting features on the Indiana webpage is the Live Chat support, which is available to citizens Monday – Friday: 7:00AM – 5:00PM. Having a live chat feature is a great customer service initiative to provide to Indiana citizens. Another customer service initiative that the State of Indiana provides is a quick listing of the most frequently asked questions. What is clear from the Indiana help section is that Indiana State government has taken a multi-channel approach to customer service. Citizens can find information quickly through the multiple channels provided like the chat feature, FAQ section and the transparency portal.

http://www.in.gov/

A final element that is worth noting is the Indiana Transparency Portal (ITP). The homepage of the ITP states, “The Indiana Transparency Portal (ITP) is designed to give you, the Indiana taxpayer, an inside look into Indiana State Government spending and operations. ITP is an online solution designed to bring better visibility, openness and accountability to Indiana State Government. The ITP contains information ranging from agency budgets to state contracts and agency performance measures. We strive to utilize your tax dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible and

Indiana Resources https://twitter.com/in_gov http://www.youtube.com/IndianaGovernment http://www.in.gov/itp/


Columbia County, Georgia

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olumbia County, Georgia, is our featured local government. Columbia County has been growing rapidly since the 1950s. In 1950, Columbia County’s population was 9,525 and has grown to over 105,000 today. Over the last decade, Columbia County was one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia. Columbia County also reports that there are over 1,300 specially trained citizens who volunteer with recreation, emergency management, fire and police departments. Columbia County has been featured because of a recent mobile application for citizens. A recent press release announced the app, “The Columbia County Board of Commissioners is proud to announce the launching of a new smart phone application that will allow citizens to snap and submit photos, video and audio files of potholes, illegal dumping, deceased animals, and any other issues that Columbia County needs to address.” Commission Chairman Ron Cross stated about the mobile app, “In government, you can’t wait for people to come to you – you need to give residents the tools to empower themselves in the most convenient way. This real time mobile application will allow our citizens to identify public safety and quality of life issues and report them to the county for quick resolution.” Mobile is not the only reason why Columbia County has been featured. They have also been selected because of their available online services and commitment to accessibility. The Columbia County website provides numerous services for citizens. Citizens can make property tax payments online, make service requests, and even make requests to help find or adopt a pet.

Columbia County Resources http://blog.citysourced.com/index.php/2222/columbia-county-citizen-reporter/ http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/


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10 Trends In Government Communications

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he goal of communications is to be where the people and key stakeholders conduct their daily lives. This section highlights ten trends in government communications and related challenges that are shaping the day-to-day environment for government communications professionals.

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Digital Divide and Accessibility

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Culture Change

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Metrics

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Data Management

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Social Media

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Crisis Management

7. Mobility 8.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

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Customer Service

10. Transparency


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Digital Divide & Accessibility T

echnology plays a tremendous role in our day-today lives. Much of our communication now takes place over the web, and having access to a computer and the Internet is critical to being successful. The digital divide can be looked at through a variety of lenses, depending on which segment of the population you are considering.

and taken advantage of new technology to provide low-income citizens with access to the internet.

Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)

BTOP was part of President Obama’s 2009 Simulus Bill. The bill contained $4.7 billion in grant money for Although great strides have been made in closing the those in rural and low-income communities to help digital divide, there are still some key challenges. The provide access to broadband technology. Below are digital divide can encompass everything from prohib- the key findings from a December 2011 quarterly reitive costs of computers and software, limited acces- port: sibility to Internet in certain areas of the country, and lack of technology education, especially for disadvaninfrastructure projects totaling $3.5 biltaged groups. lion for broadband networks; Open Government challenges agencies to use technology to be more transparent, participatory and collaborative as to how it meets the demands of citizens. The one problem that government officials face is that no level of technology will ever help to close the digital divide. Government officials need to remember that although technology is valuable, it is not a replacement for traditional methods of communication. In some cases, technology can exacerbate accessibility challenges to already under-served populations. There are many challenges related to removing the digital divide and mitigating its effects. One particular issue that the federal government has addressed is providing broadband access to rural and low-income communities. Providing access to broadband would be a critical step for the nation and help alleviate some symptoms of the digital divide. Although the government has reported success in improving broadband access, a remaining obstacle continues to be cost of broadband and computers. There have been some promising initiatives, which have used smart phones

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Public Computer Center (PCC) projects totaling $201 million in Federal grant funds to provide access to broadband, computer equipment, computer training, job training, and educational resources to the public and vulnerable populations; and

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Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) projects totaling nearly $251 million in Federal grant funds to support innovative projects that promote broadband adoption, especially among vulnerable population groups where broadband technology traditionally has been underutilized.

Although there are numerous programs in government that are great steps forward, more work needs to be done to inform citizens of the opportunity and encourage participation to help citizens develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.


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Culture Change I

nstitutional and cultural hurdles exist across all fields Without effective measures of success, govand studies of government. Government communiernment can’t justify an R&D budget cations is no exception. Some of the common challenges related to government communications are Government rewards the status quo risk aversion and undefined metrics. Without a resolution to these two challenges, buy-in from senior level By showing case studies and examples of impact, management will not occur. communications professionals can continue to show value and remove barriers to their social media proRisk Aversion gram. The responsibility to be a champion of social There have been countless studies about govern- media within an agency relies on the communications ment innovation. Typically, innovation in government staff, and by showing clear metrics and case studies; comes from two places: a crisis or a champion leading they can continue to be innovators in government communications. the charge within an agency. In a recent report released by Partnership for Public Service and IDEO, government innovation can come in three forms: Innovation in government can come in three forms:

Improving something you already do to deepen your agency’s impact on people’s lives Adapting a tried and true idea to a new context 
 Developing something entirely new to achieve your agency’s goals.

The report also identifies barriers to innovation as: Politics and miscommunication disrupt efforts to promote collaboration and innovation Government employees have no defined process for introducing and exploring new ideas


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Metrics W

ith any emerging technology, defining metrics and instituting methods to measure performance takes time for organizations. This has certainly been the case with online communications. For instance, social media metrics are still being defined as communications professionals seek to prove its value. Many improvements have been made in the way governments have defined value, but there is still a long way to go to measure impact. Absent those solid metrics and performance standards, some will continue to question the value of social media.

have gone out to 100,000 followers or was re-tweeted dozens of times, and a YouTube video may have been watched 300 times, shared with hundreds of others and received 30 comments. By showing these metrics, some of the value will become more clear. Using a link shortening service like Bit.ly or Go.USA.gov is also enormously helpful, as you can track clicks and see how many people actually viewed content. As budgets get tightened, showing that social media saves money will help remove any roadblocks and institutional hurdles within an organization. Although social media sometimes is not the direct link to a cost savings, it certainly plays a role.

To continue to move past institutional and cultural hurdles, communications professionals will need to continue to define value, and develop hard metrics to measure performance. Cost does not have to be tied In a time of tight budgets and to just savings as a new or resources, online efforts need replacement service. Think to contribute to concrete obof cost also in terms of staffjectives that tie back to an oring and personnel. Agencies ganization’s core mission and should make considerations functions. Unlike their counand perform analysis of how terparts in the private sector, much time operating a wellthe stakes are higher with a failed program in govern- run social media campaign, instead of traditional ment, especially in a time when budgets are shrink- methods, save. ing. Even with well defined metrics, some people will not Measuring online communication extends beyond be on the bandwagon. This is common with technoljust an understanding of number of followers and ogy adoption. With government using so many new fans. The GovLoop community has identified numer- tools with emerging and undefined metrics, defining ous ways to show value of social media. value will continue to shape communications landscape. Without clearly defined metrics and a move By showing the real “reach” of Facebook, Twitter, You- away from risk aversion, there will continue to be chalTube, a blog or other channels, communications pro- lenges in receiving buy-in from senior leaders. fessionals can easily show how many people received government information. For instance, a tweet may

“The stakes are higher with a failed program in government, especially in a time when budgets are shrinking”


Communications without measurement is like soccer without a net. You can kick the ball all day, but you won’t score without a net. So, before you begin your run to the goal, visualize the target, determine the right path and know what you want to accomplish when you get there.

Why Measure Your Communications? Blog by Rick Alcantara, Principal, Tara Communications LLC

Saving money through program evaluations Excerpt from “Social media monitoring is critical for government operations.” Blog by Andrew Einhorn, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University

Instead of slashing budgets arbitrarily, Congress and agencies could work together to gather information on what the public thinks about government programs and services and make budgetary and programmatic changes based on actual evidence, not the anecdotal testimony of a few outliers marched to hearings on Capitol Hill. OhMyGov Inc. provided such an analysis for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, where we analyzed what veterans complained about online with regard to the services the VA was providing. Given the VA’s main charter to provide quality healthcare to veterans, it’s easy to think quality of care would be the number one complaint. It wasn’t. Only 5 percent complained about the quality of care they received by the VA. But 60 percent of complaints were about poor customer service—most of which was directed at seven specific VA facilities. With this information, the VA can allocate resources to fix problems instead of mandating more costly and unnecessary across-theboard healthcare quality improvements. Social media analysis uses aggregated data. This type of aggregated data, where personally identifiable information is not included, is critical to informing government operational effectiveness and can save a lot of money by identifying where resources should be spent to fix or solve problems.


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Data Management A

nother trend facing government is how agencies are able to manage large quantities of data and information. With agencies using multiple online platforms, they are flooded with information. While these platforms are great ways to quickly share information and connect with citizens, one of the challenges is how to extract value from the numerous interactions that take place.

ernment, data must be used to help streamline efficiency and optimize services for citizens.

Open Innovation Platforms

There are numerous open innovation platforms that have been used by government. Open Innovation platforms have been implemented at all levels of government. Some models are used for internal collaboOne emerging trend is looking at web-based ser- ration, while others are used to tap into the collective vices which measure sentiment, track key words and intelligence of citizens. Generally, open innovation attempt to find value in the interactions. Although platforms have mechanisms to quickly allow people many of these services are quite expensive to use, to submit ideas, comment on ideas, and vote. there are also some free versions available for government agencies. One of the big challenges for open innovation platforms is that the platform needs to be tied to an inSome of these services are: novation strategy, which is not always well defined in government. For the platform to really work, the ideas • HootSuite need to move from a generic idea to actually being • Tweetdeck implemented by the government agency. With a ne• Seesmic glect towards implementation, the value of the plat• Scoutlabs form and collecting ideas is not capitalized on. Another challenge with managing data comes from data collected by government agencies. Websites like Data.gov are fantastic spots to share data and information, but the data sets posted are not always beneficial for citizens – at least not without developer assistance.

In Focus: Challenge.gov

The Challenge.gov website describes itself as “an online challenge platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in partnership with ChallengePost that empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent The problem that plagues government is that gov- to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges. This ernment is generally “data rich and insight poor.” platform is the latest milestone in the Administration’s The challenge for government is how to best extract commitment to use prizes and challenges to promote knowledge from large volumes of data. With new innovation.” and emerging technology, government will continue to collect large and complex data, through multiple Challenge.gov also highlights two of the more succhannels. Also, the demand for data will continue to cessful challenges that have been staged, NYC Big grow from citizens and businesses. At all levels of gov-


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Apps and Apps for Healthy Kids. Although these challenges are free and easy to set up, there are some guiding principles that federal agencies should follow. The following content is an excerpt from a blog written by Ines Mergel, Assistant Professor of Public Administration Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.

Designing Challenges

Excerpt from GovLoop “Crowdsourced Ideas Make Participating in Government Cool Again.” By Ines Mergel, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

predefined time and make sure that you communicate the duration and elapsed time to your participants. Having that one time opportunity to submit an idea can also serve as an incentive for participants. Create a transparent evaluation process: Post the evaluation steps and experts involved in judging the submitted solutions prominently on your website. Communicate how you plan to implement the final solution. Throughout the implementation process make sure to show the value of the crowdsourced solution: How much money was saved? Why are government operations now running smoother than before?

While we truly observe only the first lighthouse projects and experiments with Open Innovation platforms, designing challenges is relatively easy. GSA’s Challenge.gov for example provides the platform for free to all federal agencies and challenge administrators can follow a relatively straightforward process. Reference:

The devil lies in the detail. Here are a few lessons Mergel, I. (2011): Crowdsourced Ideas Make Participatlearned from Open Innovation administrators who ing in Government Cool Again, in: PA Times, American started to experiment with their local platforms: Society for Public Administration, Vol. 34, No. 4, October 2011, p. 4 & 6, Special Issue: From Bureaucratic to Start by carefully crafting the problem state- Cool: A Call for Public Service. ment you want your employees or citizens to solve. The challenge has to be posed in plain language so that non-experts immediately understand the problem. Experiment with challenges in-house first before opening the floodgates to the public. You internal sandbox can provide valuable insights to streamline the process for public challenges. Design participation incentives: Think about monetary and non-monetary give-aways that no one else offers and make it worth participating in the challenge. Showcasing submitted solutions on your website can be an incentive for citizens to participate – others might want a monetary return on their time and ideas invested in helping government. Set a time limit: Close your challenge after a


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Social Media T

here is a consistent flow of new online tools being developed and used by citizens for personal use. Some of these emerging tools also have applications in both the private and public sectors. Government has traditionally been slower at adopting social tools than their counterparts in the private sector. For a variety of reasons, a slower adoption rate makes sense for government agencies. In some instances, with tighter budgets and limited resources, programs should only be launched when there is a significant audience that justifies engagement.

Pinterest Facebook YouTube Twitter Google+ FourSquare Quora LinkedIn Blogging

Pinterest has been rapidly adopted by citizens predominantly for personal use. Although several agencies have already signed up for Pinterest, others have been more wary. Pinterest has recently released an updated Terms of Service, drawing more agencies to begin exploring the value of Pinterest. Pinterest allows for the creation of a virtual pinboard, which makes Pinterest a great storytelling tool. A government agency could take advantage of Pinterest by pinning photographs that relate to their mission. For example, NASA could pin pictures of Earth from space. Pinterest users who are interested in NASA would then follow their boards, keeping up with the latest images from space. Pinterest has also been a proven traffic driver; when users click an image it redirects to the original source. The appeal to Pinterest for government agencies is still being developed; however as the platform evolves, it is likely to encourage government and private sector use. Mike Bernard, GovLoop Member and Digital Marketing Coordinator at GovDelivery recently wrote a post, “Why Government Should Take an Interest in Pinterest.� A common challenge of any new social network is considering what kind of content to use on the site. Mike explains that government agencies typically have more content than they realize to share on Pinterest. Here are 14 great examples that Mike provides:


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Natural resources departments can post pictures of animals (birds and fish are always winners) or scenic nature shots.

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Transportation departments can post pictures of bridges, construction trucks or aerial photos of highway interchanges.

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Education departments or school boards can post whimsical photos of children at play (don’t forget media releases of course) or highlight teachers who are doing an excellent job.

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Cities can post cool pictures of police cars, fire trucks, new civic buildings, historic homes, inter esting artwork or architecture in the city hall.

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County parks, nature preserves and fairs are great places for photos.

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How about taking pictures of the inner-workings of municipal facilities such as water treatment plants to show the public how things work? There’s a whole TV show about how things work!

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Transit and port authorities…Hello, buses, trains, cranes and ships! What’s not to love?

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Elected officials post pictures of ribbon cutting ceremonies, important business developments, meetings with important people and much more.

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Tourism boards have more amazing pictures than anyone I can think of. Post away.

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The military could post pictures of tanks, planes, ships and places around the world.

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History centers, museums and archives are sitting on a treasure trove of America’s past. People love images of the way things used to be.

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Food safety agencies can post pictures of bacteria or what to look for when food spoils. This kind of stuff will definitely get people’s attention.

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How about having a photo contest where you post a really focused picture of something your agency deals with and have people guess what it might be. Then announce the actual item after a week of guessing.

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Do you create interesting graphics for reports you create? Post the graphics and link it back to the reports on your website.


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Facebook Facebook, largely the first social media platform adopted by government agencies, is in some ways very mature in terms of usage in government. Likewise, the way Facebook is used by government is consistently evolving. Facebook recently launched their new timeline feature, changing the way content is posted to an organizations ‘wall’, as well as making several design enhancements. Adapting to these changes can be a challenge for government agencies - it can feel like adopting an entirely new platform. However, when best practices are applied, these changes can result in a higher return on investment. One advantage to using the timeline feature is the ability to feature content. The latest happenings at an agency are not always the most interesting, even if it is important information to disseminate to citizens. To assure that the right content stays visible, agencies can now click the ‘Highlight’ button to feature content. The content takes up more of the agencies wall and stays there for up to seven days, or until it’s no longer highlighted. Another prominent change is the cover, allowing for a second image to be displayed at the top of the page, along with a profile picture. The cover can be utilized by placing an interesting picture that isn’t the agency logo, as the profile picture already serves that purpose. There are several restrictions to the use of the cover: calls to action, advertisements, or contact information cannot be displayed. The cover is designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Facebook has also recently introduced a ‘tabs’ feature. This new feature replaces the apps that used to exist. In the tabs, items such as videos, photos, likes, notes, and events will be accessible. Up to 12 tabs can exist at once, with four being displayed directly on the page. Katherine Watier, VP Social Media of Ketchum PR, recently wrote a post on GovLoop, “Is Your Agency or Organization Ready for the Facebook Timeline Switch?”, which highlighted the eight major changes to Facebook timeline:

An Overview of Eight Major Facebook Timeline Features 1. Cover Image: The cover image is a welcome banner to your Page that will be the first thing people see when they visit. Consider what you want your fans and new visitors to take away from their visit and how you want them to perceive the brand. This image (851 X 315 pixels) will set the tone for the users’ experience on the page. There are several cover photo restrictions. Cover photos cannot include: • • •

Price of purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”. Contact information, such as a website address, email, mailing address, or other information that should go in your Page’s “About” section. References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like,” “share,” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features


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Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

2. Profile picture: Your profile picture will represent your organization/brand on other parts of Facebook− ads, sponsored stories, and in your fans’ news feed. We recommend using your official logo and ensure it is sized appropriately to the new Facebook image specs: high quality image that scales well from 180 x 180 to 32 x 32 pixels 3. Pinned Posts: This new feature allows you to select a post to pin to the top of the Page that will last for 7 days, and take up the width of the Page. This is a feature we recommend using so as to better promote the top content you have identified for each week in your editorial calendar as it will be prominently featured when a user visits the page. This is similar to sticky posts in online forums. 4. Views and apps: Your views, photos and custom apps will now appear at the top of your Page. Previously apps were displayed by text tab links. The new Timeline displays apps with visual logo art that will drive more visitors to discovering your company/organization’s photos, apps, and more. You will have the ability to customize these images. The icons on the main Page should be scaled at 110 x 74 pixels, and the individual app page should display images that are up to 810 pixels. Note: The photos icon is in a fixed position and will always display the most recently uploaded photo. The views icon provides a competitive analysis to all Facebook users. We recommend moving this icon off the main Page so that this insight will not be as easily accessible to competitors. 5. Larger Stories: Publish and feature multiple stories about a campaign using rich and engaging photos and videos. You will have the ability to highlight important stories with the star icon, and hide or delete stories that aren’t as engaging with the pencil icon. 6. Milestones: Publish new events and milestones that define your key moments over time. Facebook provides examples of milestones such as reaching a certain number of fans, opening a new store, or winning an award. This feature will allow visitors to engage with the brand or organization’s history long after a milestone has passed. 7. Friend activity: The Timeline will be a unique viewing experience for each individual, as it will be personalized based on each visitors friends activity. When people visit your page, they will see which of their friends likes the Page and how their friends are interacting with your brand/organization. Research has shown that seeing your friends talk about a brand will encourage their engagement on the Page and with the brand in a sales environment.


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8. Management Tools: There have been several changes to the admin panel that will allow it to function more like a dashboard. • • • • •

Notifications: You will receive notifications about all the activity on your Page Messages: You will be able to directly respond to people when they message you privately. This will be especially beneficial for custom service. Scheduling Posts: you will now be able to plan ahead and schedule posts for future publishing Real-time insights: You will now have access to data and metrics on your Page in real-time. Activity Log: View all your Page posts including ones you’ve chosen to hide. Use the drop-down menu to filter stories by type or date. This allows you to keep a running history of users engagement with your Page.

YouTube YouTube does one thing, and does it well. The video-sharing platform allows users to upload content and share it with others. For government, YouTube can be a great way to spread knowledge of government programs. For example, the General Services Administration posts trainings that will appeal to government workers. Though users have the ability to comment on videos, it is not as useful for directly crowdsourcing or assisting citizens as other social platforms. Posting a YouTube video to Facebook or Twitter is a great way to drive interaction about a video as opposed to using YouTube as a standalone platform. YouTube insights are a great way to find out which videos attract certain demographics. Insights break the viewers down into categories including gender, age, and geographic location. It’s important for government agencies to make sure their videos have a broad appeal and does not isolate any group of people.

Twitter The microblogging site Twitter limits users to 140 characters, making it both the simplest and most complex social networking platform. Because of the character limit, agencies need to share information smart, and each tweet should be strategic in wording. Tweets can consist of hashtags (#), mentions (@), and links. It’s important to have discretion when using each of these.


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Some best practices for using Twitter hashtags are: • Don’t be vague with hashtags or use adjectives too liberally (#awesome!) • Make sure the hashtags aren’t too long and therefore aren’t difficult to retweet • Don’t be too conservative or liberal with the number of hashtags used. #It #Can #Get #Obnoxious! • Don’t use offensive hashtags just to generate buzz With mentions, it’s important to only mention relevant Tweeters so you don’t appear to be spamming. Using links is an effective tool to generate traffic to a website. Start with an interesting comment or question, then use the link to encourage Tweeters to delve deeper into the subject by clicking it. Make sure they are shortened using a URL shortener so they don’t appear sloppy. GovLoop has a lot of great resources for Twitter, be sure to view our Twitter guides:

15 Commandments for Government Agencies on Twitter 12 Commandments for Government Employees on Twitter

Google+ Google+ is a fairly new platform, being slowly adopted by government. It is an additional tool to the Google suite, which allows agencies to collaborate internally more efficiently after shifting to a cloud-based Google For Government Apps system. Google+ has had trouble with widespread adoption because of competition from the well-established Facebook; however, it does have high potential and is a relevant tool because of its integration across other Google products. For example, if a user Googles “+Barack Obama” then hits enter, the President’s Google+ profile appears automatically. As Google+ integrates itself further with search, Gmail, Android, and other Google services, adoption is likely to grow. Video-conferencing is another advantage of Google+ via the Google hangout. President Obama has taken advantage of this by hosting G+ Hangouts with constituents in order to learn about what issues matter most to them. Hangouts can bring a sense of transparency to government; while only 10 users can be logged into a Google hangout, an unlimited amount of people can watch.


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Top 10: Obama and Google+ have shaped future leadership Andreas Addison Civic Innovator, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Richmond, VA

I have to admit, last night was pretty awesome. Work had ended, and I was still sitting at my desk, eagerly waiting for 5:30 to come around. Why? I had a meeting with President Obama. Sure, so did anyone who wanted it, but it was the first POTUS Google+ live streaming event. As things started, the environment was pretty amazing. Regardless of your political affiliation, the candid nature of which the President had live conversations with normal Americans shows a true understanding of the democratic process. Mr. President took a risk. Going live to stream to the world a conversation post-State of the Union, was to me a sign of a leader understanding his position and role to the country. Having open discussion about key concerns and situations that face many Americans today created an opportunity have a glimpse at the true human side of President. It made him real. As leader, putting yourself in a position of normalcy yet being able to act on anything discussed is pretty amazing. Questions ranged from unemployment, student loans, marijuana, the Occupy movement, to SOPA/PIPA. The President exuded several key attributes of leadership in this brief 50 minute discussion. 1. Well-rounded knowledge of many topics- even though the format allowed for Mr. President to be breifed on the questions before answering them, there was a level of focus, intent and honesty in hearing the concerns and questions from theh public. The frequent views from behind Obama as he leaned into the camera to see the people asking the questions was impressive. It showed he was intently listening and not just responded through a scripted teleprompter. His preparedness was in who he was and showed how knowledgable he is about the topics that are important to most Americans. 2. Candid and conversational- he made jokes, comments, and interacted with everyone in a personal manner that showed how much he valued this forum, probably just as much the participants. 3. Fast on his feet- the rapid ad-libbed points and questions came from the live-audience Google+ invitees were handled with the politcal savvy one would expect from the President. There was however the risk of getting posed a question that would evoke a firestorm in the media. There were two responses that have received critical comments from. Overall, I feel that this minimally controlled forum showed an honest and open President who was willing and able to answer any question asked. 4. Direct and personal- Obama responded to all the questions and comments with a direct personal approach that showed his true level of care and concern for those lucky enough to be a part of this event. He showed how much he understood where Americans are today and even gave information and direction to how we as a country can address these concerns. 5. Leaders of all levels are people too- his smile, charisma and honest approach to this forum showed just how human the President is. He related with the individual stories, the families, the hardships, and the true extent to which people were really eager to hear his response. How would you round off the top 10 leadership examples from the Google+ hangout with President Obama on Monday night? Where do you see this first Google+ Presidential hangout leading the democratic process next?


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FourSquare FourSquare is a platform, usually used as a phone application, which allows users to “check-in” to their current location. Users can achieve badges or Mayorships when they check into different locations - or the same location - often. FourSquare check-ins can be shared on Twitter and Facebook, allowing people at a local event to share it with their friends. FourSquare users can visit government venues and give each other tips, such as with parking. Agencies can encourage visits to their sites by creating the venues on FourSquare then giving them descriptions; they can also hold competitions for mayorships.

Quora Quora is a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to ask questions and get responses. According to numerous sources, Quora is expected to grow rapidly. If the platform does grow, it could become a benchmark for government agencies looking to crowdsource solutions. One challenge currently facing agency use of Quora is that it requires a real name, which that means that agencies can’t sign up as their agency. Using a representative is a viable solution to the problem, but it’s difficult to get a representative as much visibility as the organization itself.

LinkedIn LinkedIn is the most widely used professional networking website. It distinguishes itself by having a subscription-centric model on top of advertising, though most users opt for the basic (free) account. The advantage of using LinkedIn is the professional audience that’s being reached. In general, members of groups on LinkedIn want to be in the group, not having simply “liked” a page as is often with Facebook. Though there are far fewer LinkedIn members than there are on Facebook, group interaction is often comparable between LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages. Because of its audience and high engagement, LinkedIn is an important crowdsourcing solutions and engagement tool for government.

Blogging Blogging is useful for government agencies, providing an inexpensive avenue to reach the public. As opposed to sending out a press release, blogs are published in personal web-journals and thus are cost-efficient. The federal government, via http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference-Shelf/News/blog.shtml, has its own blogging platform, allowing citizens to easily keep up with the latest government happenings.


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Crisis Management C

risis management is a quickly evolving field of communications. With so many technologies available to aid in crisis communications, government agencies are constantly looking at ways to reform and improve crisis communications.

Today, crisis management crosses multiple disciplines. Information during a crisis is shared through the cloud, GIS, Twitter, Facebook, and can be shared in a mobile environment or from a computer in an emergency command center. Mobility has certainly become a very important part of crisis communications. In many instances, a communications professional is on staff at emergency centers monitoring social media channels, to help in recovery assistance. Citizens can easily access Facebook and Twitter from mobile devices, and are increasingly using these platforms to obtain and share information in crisis situations.

Excerpt From, Social media monitoring is critical for government operations Blog by Andrew Einhorn, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University

Whether it was the recent earthquake in Virginia, Arab protests during Arab Spring, or Captain Sully’s heroic landing of a commercial passenger airplane on the Hudson River, the best and usually the first bits of information about the situation on the ground during emergencies and natural disasters are coming from individual, first-hand witness accounts posted to social media. If the government does not monitor that information, then we are quite simply abandoning precious resources and turning our backs on life-saving information.

If social media were a viable resource during 9/11 and the government was monitoring social media channels, perhaps Americans would have been more prepared and armed with information to help them stay safe in the unfolding crisis. The same may be true for Other important aspects of mobile are for crisis profes- Katrina. Had Twitter been as pervasive of a tool for sionals to use their mobile devices to share resources spreading information then, operators on the ground on the move, take pictures, use maps, and share infor- could have been able to more readily identify assets mation instantly in the cloud. available at their disposal, such as the infamous dozens of yellow school buses left to rot in the parking lot that could have been used as transport vehicles for displaced persons.


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Mobility T

he use of mobile technology might be the hottest of the ten trends. One of the pressing challenges now for government agencies is how to make online resources available in a mobile environment. The move towards mobile has led to many significant changes for government employees and citizen engagement. As smart phones and mobile become more widely available, more citizens are accessing the web through mobile technology.

One of the challenges of implementing mobile is having support from management. With the call to be a ‘lean, clean and smart city’ from the highest-ranking public official in the city, Forest was able to run with the project. Forest continued, “We took Mayor Carlisle’s leadership as a challenge to create innovative ways for our citizens to get connected to government easier and hopefully become more involved in the process of making Honolulu the best city it can be.

One fascinating part of mobile is that numerous private sector companies have started up in the last few years with the basis of improving citizen engagement through mobile technology. By using mobile technology, citizens can quickly take charge of their community, report incidents and hold their government accountable. Some emerging trends in mobile technology are:

With support behind the initiative, Forest began considering what kind of services the mobile app should provide and the key needs of a citizen on a mobile platform. One observation from Forrest was that government does not have all the answers, and should be using existing technology to help leverage change within a city.

The following is an excerpt from the GovLoop Industry Perspective Case Study featuring the Honolulu 311 mobile app. This is part of the GovLoop Industry Perspective Series. You can view the entire case study by following this link.

“Government can’t solve every problem, we need help form the community and through apps like City Sourced we can facilitate that happening,” stated Forrest. This kind of philosophy has not only driven innovation in the City of Honolulu, but also across all levels of government.

In early 2012, the City of Honolulu released a new app, Honolulu 311. Honolulu 311 allows citizens to use personal smartphones to report abandoned vehicles, broken streetlights, illegal dumping and other issues.

By opening up more channels of engagement and tapping into and extracting knowledge from citizens, government can work to address some of its more critical and complex challenges.

GovLoop Research Analyst Pat Fiorenza had the opportunity to sit down with Forest Frizzell, Deputy Director at City and County of Honolulu to learn more about the history behind the app. Forest stated, “When our Mayor took office a year ago he said he wanted to work towards creating a “lean, clean, and smart city that is looking towards the future.”

To read the entire Industry Perspective and the rest of the interview with Forest Frizzel, please view the GovLoop Industry Perspective here.


About CitySourced CitySourced is a real time mobile civic engagement platform. CitySourced provides a simple and intuitive platform empowering residents to identify civic issues (public safety, quality of life, environmental issues, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution; an opportunity for government to use technology to save time and money plus improve accountability to those they govern; and a positive, collaborative platform for real action. A picture tells a thousand words and CitySourced makes it a snap.

Client Testimonials

“We’re using CitySourced to connect people and their government through smart technologies that improve efficiency, communication and engagement.” Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President “In these trying times, this is one of the ways we are doing more with less to deliver public safety and quality of life for our residents.” Pete Constant, San Jose City Council District 1 “Labor is always going up; in most big cities, it’s between 70 and 80 percent of the annual budget. So anything you can do to make that labor more efficient, that’s where you save money. Also, In the not-too-distant future in addition to all traditional means of communication and common electronic forms, I believe we will see increasing use of mobile devices, and especially smart phones, as the preferred means of resident-to-government communications and transactions.” Ed Fraga, IT Director at Glendale, CA


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GIS Applications T

he basic definition of GIS is that it is a technology that enables spatial representation of geography and data through maps. GIS extends much more than a modern day cartographic tool, and to think of GIS in such simple terms diminishes the impact and potential of GIS. One of the most pressing issues for government and challenges that government is facing is managing complex data and making it visual to drive decision making and improve citizen engagement. GIS technology works to impact this element.

This data hopefully exists somewhere in the city, but making a visual representation and sharing with the public, will help drive action and inform decisions.

GIS has multiple applications, one area we are seeing a lot of impact is in crisis management. During an emergency, officials need to be able to quickly connect and collaborate with each other. This is now easier to do than ever before with modern technology. With GIS technology, information can be instantly shared and updated in real-time - this information allows decision GIS technology takes seemingly intricate and complex makers to improve their decision making during a criabstract data and manages the data into a version sis and allocate resources to the proper locations. that is easy for government officials to understand. There are countless of examples of GIS, some great At all levels of government, GIS can be used to help improve transparency, identify at risk communities examples of GIS come from the federal government. and be used to help manage critical resources of the Geographic Information Systems have been adopted community.But that’s just the start, here are my Top by dozens of agencies across the state, local and fed- 10 benefits of GIS: eral level of government. Too often, we underestimate the value of what GIS brings to the decision-making • Improved decision by government officials process. GIS technology can be found across multiple • Instantaneous collaboration through the clo • Layer complex data to drive improve decision disciplines within government. making • Improved transparency for citizen engagement Top 10 Benefits of GIS Technology • Identify at-risk or under-served populations withBlog Post by Pat Fiorenza, Research Analyst, GovLoop in a community There is so much that you can do with a GIS technol- • Improved allocation of resources and planning ogy, the most common example is making layers with • Management of natural resources data showing all sorts of different variables of a com- • Improved communications during a crisis munity to help inform decision makers and inform the • Cost savings by improved decision making public. For example, my hometown of Syracuse could • Planning for demographic changes to community really use (and publicize) housing information. A useful application would be to see how many vacant houses are in the city, and map that with educational levels, income, etc.


About Esri Esri is an exciting company doing important work. Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales. At Esri, we believe that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future. Governments, industry leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) trust us to connect them with the analytic knowledge they need to make these critical decisions that shape the planet. We invite you to discover ways that you can leverage our technology and expertise in your own organization.

History of Esri In 1969, Esri president Jack Dangermond and his wife, Laura, founded Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (Esri), in Redlands, California. Esri’s early mission was to organize and analyze geographic information to help land planners and land resource managers make well-informed environmental decisions. These studies resulted in maps that showed constraints and opportunities for development. In the mid-1970s, San Diego County, California, selected Esri to develop a polygon information overlay system (PIOS), which became the company’s first foray into creating a geographic information system (GIS). A global company from the beginning, Esri began developing relationships with like-minded companies in Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada, forming the foundation of today’s large international network of distributors.


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Customer Service T

o improve government wide customer service, agencies need to take a hard look at themselves, the services they provide and the mission of the organization. One of the big challenges for government is to “untangle the knots,” and quickly solve problems for citizens. Since many customer service initiatives have multiple entry points, agencies need to be careful to craft policies, procedures and processes to quickly provide the most critical information to citizens, as efficiently as possible. The GovLoop community has discovered some themes that help agencies identify their customer service needs. One critical element to customer service is mapping out the customer service program. Agencies can start by identifying their key customers and begin to think critically about what the customer wants to accomplish. Once this is understood, agencies should chart out a map that walks through each contact point with the customer and interaction with the customer. At each level, the agency can think how they can improve the customer experience. In doing so, agencies will be able to streamline the customer experience. Enid, Oklahoma is a great example of a well-defined customer service strategy. As part of one of GovLoop’s Project’s of the Week Series, Derrick Silas, City of Enid Web Communications Developer/Social Media Strategist sat down with GovLoop Community Manager Andrew Krzmarzick to talk about the City of Enid and their citizen engagement strategy. AK: How did you decide to incorporate these elements? Were citizens involved? Key city stakeholders?

DS: We started with several surveys asking the citizens and employees how to improve our web site. We formed a development committee involving employees from all divisions of the City and also some external constituents (veteran, etc.). AK: I just used your chat feature (which I love and strongly recommend to cities since it’s the most immediate form of online engagement they can use). Tell me how you staff it - who, how often, length of time during the day, etc.? DS: Our receptionist staff the online chat 8-5 everyday. We also have a chat client in our utility billing department and at the service center (public works department) that answer questions concerning trash, street, landfill, and water line repairs. AK: Any other tips or recommendations you’d make for your colleagues as they’re striving to more effectively engage citizens wherever they are? There are a lot of free tools that municipalities can use to engage citizens (facebook, twitter, youtube, and flickr). I would suggest that the government body use a Gov2.0 tool (e.g. Spigit, BrightIdeas, Jive, etc.) that allows the community to share their ideas on how to make their government body better. In using these tools, remain honest to the community and they will appreciate it and feel more compelled to participate in the openness in government. I would suggest that other municipalities allow their staff to attend conferences (e.g. National Association of Government Communicators [NAGC], National Association of Government Webmasters [NAGW], etc.) to network with other government entities and to get best practices


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Transparency W

hat is driving government to be more open and transparent? Is being more open occurring out of necessity by government due to the fiscal climate? With such limited resources, government is being forced to be more open, transparent and collaborate across agencies. Or is a more open government developing because of increasing pressures from citizens? There is a pressure from citizens and a desire for a more connected government that can use technology to improve government operations.

swers to some of the most complex challenges they face. With the releasing of data sets in both raw and structured forms, agencies are allowing citizens to build applications to assist in improving government services and are empowering citizens to hold more of a stake in their community.

The challenge for transparency is that “transparent” can mean multiple things across agencies and levels of government. There are complex questions that relate to government transparency - how can we measure transparency? What are the requirements that make an agency transparent? How do we define transparency? What level of transparency is appropriate? The answers to those questions likely are different across agencies, so being “transparent” can have different meanings to various agencies and certainly to citizens.

Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset

A trend that continues to grow is that government agencies are realizing they do not hold all the an-

There are many different ways to try and tackle transparency; one way is the releasing of data sets that government collects. This can be done in a variety of different ways - if it is releasing data in raw form for citizens or taking a more structured approach and providing limited data with key insights. Typically, this all depends on the agency’s mission and varying internal processes for transparency. Other transparency efforts include allowing citizens to visualize data on maps, mobile applications, and improved customer service by providing the right information that is easily accessible.

- President Barack Obama


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Best of GovLoop

Top GovLoop Communications Resources

As GovLoop seeks to highlight and honor our community members, GovLoop staff has selected our Top Communications Blogs on GovLoop as an additional resource in our State of Communications Guide.

Stop Waiting for the Messiah and Do it Yourself WordPress for Local Government When will we see Gamification in Government You don’t Really Serve your Customers at all Keeping it Real: New York Style You can’t Separate the ‘Social’ from Social Media Semantic Confusion Surrounding Modern Marketing 16 Communication Tips to Live By How do People get Information about their Community The Top 5 Pure Social Media Trends in 2012 Leader Vs Loser How do you Measure your Local Governments Social Media Success? Brand Yourself Can Communications Prevent Protests? What’s Worth Sharing?


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Creating an Effective Crisis Communications Plan Blog by Sandy Evans Levine, President, Advice Unlimited LLC

We live in an “instant information” age, with 24-hours news channels on TV, radio, and the Web, all needing information and wanting exciting, attention-getting headlines. This creates an environment where managing the message to the media takes on heightened importance, since the chance for a misstep to go unnoticed is slim. We have all seen the effects of negative media exposure and witnessed the ramifications of harmful leaks or misinformation to the press. The results have caused businesses to suffer, organizations to be unfairly maligned, and, as seen with early reports about ‘swine flu,’ a nation to panic. There is a better way. Through crisis communications planning, companies and government organizations can have a clearly defined and effective process in place to immediately manage the message to the media and, therefore, the public. This will lessen panic, provide calm, clear directives and suggestions, and negate further trauma. And this communication and interaction with the media and the public can be done in a manner that’s consistent with protecting sensitive sources and information. Many government agencies are reviewing their crisis communications plans and putting Public Information Centers (PICs) into place. Their reasons are clear: Companies and organizations that have a crisis communications plan are significantly more effective in handling disaster situations. They can respond faster because they know what to do. Speed is crucial to negate rumors and hearsay and contain the damage as quickly as possible. Companies and organizations that cooperate with media and share facts with the public consistently are more trusted by the public. Companies and organizations that demonstrate loyalty to their clients by placing their clients’ needs first in dealing with the crisis are more likely to survive a crisis situation. The PIC leadership develops, creates, and tests the crisis communications plan, provides guidance in training team members and spokespeople, and overall provides necessary tools so your organization is well prepared to speedily respond to a potential media crisis. A thorough planning phase should include the following:


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• • • • • • • •

Identify a crisis team/Re-evaluate existing crisis team’s roles Analyze your vulnerabilities Evaluate your existing procedures Identify the new procedures you need Designate a spokesperson(s) Draft a comprehensive crisis communications plan Media training Simulate/test crisis communications plan

As disasters unfortunately seem to be a more common occurrence, our skills for dealing with them must be honed. An effective crisis communications plan provides your team with the blueprint to navigate rough waters effectively, to minimize panic, reassure your audiences, and protect sensitive sources. A delicate balancing act - but one Public Affairs and Public Relations professionals must engage in more and more frequently. Planning and preparedness help make dealing with a disaster a lot less disastrous.

12 Hopes for 2012

Enhanced Adoption of Digital Technologies

Excerpt from GovLoop Blog by Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD

My specific hopes below are predicated on a general hope – namely, that the global economy will stabilize enough to encourage people to focus on the future with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence. I also hope we will devote more energy to action than talk, working together to address the opportunities and challenges we face rather than bickering and playing the blame game. The realization of these hopes is critical to all kinds of advances and successes in 2012, not just the enhanced adoption of new technologies. One of the paradoxes of technology adoption is that it is fundamentally a human endeavor. Creating the means to do things better, faster, cheaper is irrelevant if people don’t embrace the new tools and approaches. Throughout the early days of the Digital Era, our technological capabilities have generally exceeded the willingness and ability of people to leverage them. Jane Young summarizes the situation well in her comment on this Forbes piece: Our biggest challenge isn’t keeping up with the latest in social media, it’s finding ways to get mindset to catch up with capabilities and new knowledge…. Companies who recognise we’re facing a psychological challenge rather than a technological one, will thrive.


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My hopes for 2012 are rooted in the psychological challenges we face and are built on our willingness – both individually and collectively – to address them in thought, word, and deed. Sort of in order (but not really), I hope that: People – especially organizational leaders – will recognize that we are fully in the Digital Era and will begin to explore more fully what that means for them as individuals and for their organizations. They will acknowledge they don’t understand new digital technologies as well as they could/should – and more importantly, they will make a real effort to educate themselves. More leaders will act like leaders – taking a broader view of their organization, industry, and the larger world in which both function; focusing on the future; engaging in strategic discussions; demonstrating a willingness to take risks. More specifically, they will recognize the transformative power of digital technology across multiple disciplines and will use their newly-acquired understanding to develop appropriate strategic priorities and objectives, and to allocate necessary human and other resources to pursue those objectives. We will stop sanctifying and vilifying social media, recognizing that it is neither “the cure for all that ails us” nor “the end of civilization as we know it.” Both things are true, but neither position represents the truth. We will move past unproductive, moot arguments and focus more on developing solutions for managing the new realities of our lives as effectively as possible. In a related vein, we will stop thinking of social media as a frivolous novelty and begin to take it and other digital technologies more seriously, recognizing that these technologies are necessary utilities for functioning in the 21st Century. We will understand that leveraging new digital technologies is at once both a (r)evolutionary step forward and a return to more natural ways of communicating, collaborating, and learning. We will realize that digital technology is most effectively viewed as a means to achieving our goals and objectives rather than an end unto itself. We will shift from a focus on external uses of social media – particularly in a BtoC (business-to-consumer) context – to recognize the greater need (and opportunity) to address internal and inter-organizational applications and implications of new technologies in organizations of all types and sizes. We will begin to integrate them into existing projects and operations in all functional areas. We will develop more thoughtful and strategic approaches to digital engagement that employ appropriate platforms and communication channels based on organizational characteristics, stakeholder demographics, and other factors. We will be less reactive, less likely to engage in copycat behavior, and less inclined to pursue a “one size fits all” model. The false assumption of the inherent superiority of “Digital Natives” and “Millennials” in leveraging new technologies will cease to dominate people’s thinking. We will realize that we all have the opportunity – and ability – to be as digitally proficient as we want to be. As we all become more digitally proficient, we will once again realize that substance (e.g., functional and organizational knowledge, experience, wisdom, emotional intelligence, communication skills) is much more important than form (i.e., specific digital skills) – and far more difficult to acquire!


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More high-quality formal education and training about social media and other new digital technologies will be available. And recognizing the need to make a lifelong investment in their own success, more people will take advantage of it to climb their short-term learning curves more efficiently and effectively – and to lay a strong foundation for continuous learning and improvement. Organizations of all types will shift from public social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn to private digital networks (PDNs) for internal communication and collaboration. The value of PDNs for inter-organizational communication and collaboration will also be realized and exploited more fully. Organizations will take appropriate action to manage their Digital Era risks by reviewing and updating their employee policies, creating social media policies/guidelines where necessary/appropriate, and providing ongoing training for both individual contributors and managers. Technology advocates will focus less on disruptive applications and more on how new technology can extend and enhance existing competencies rather than destroying them. And instead of primarily defining the success of technology companies – both start-ups and established firms – based on their splashy hits, we will place more value on incremental contributions and improvements that have a larger, albeit quieter, impacts.


Acknowledgements Pat Fiorenza, GovLoop Research Analyst Lead Author of the State of Communications Report

Pat Fiorenza is currently a Research Analyst at GovLoop. Through the creation of blogs, research reports, guides, in-person and online events, Pat helps to identify and find best practices to share with the GovLoop community. Pat received his Masters of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Thank you to all who assisted in the production of the GovLoop Guide, “State of Communications Report.� Thank you to all those who were referenced in the guide and contributed quotes, blog posts and content. In particular, thank you to Andrew Krzmarzick, GovLoop Community Manager, who served as a contributing author to various portions of this guide, as an editor and provided direction on content. Also, thank you to Corey McCarren, GovLoop Graduate Fellow and writer of the social media trends section. Thank you to Jeff Riberia, Creative Director, GovLoop, who designed the guide.

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