GOVLOOPGUIDE02.WELCOME/ CONTENTS About GovLoop 22 FourSquare3 About the GovLoop Guide Series 22 Quora 22 LinkedIn 22 Blogging Overview 23 Crisis Management4 Why Government Communications? 24 Mobility 25 About CitySourced 26 GIS Applications Featured Government 27 About Esri Communications Initiatives 28 Customer Service4 Featured Initiatives 29 Transparency Efforts5 Federal: United States Marine Corps6 State: State of Indiana7 Local: Columbia County, GA Best of GovLoop: Top GovLoop Communications 10 Trends in Government Resources 31 Creating an Effective Crisis Communications Plan Communications 32 12 Hopes for 2012: Enhanced Adoption of Digital8 Overview Technologies9 Digital Divide10 Culture Change11 Metrics Acknowledgements12 Excerpt From: Social Media Monitoring is Critical for 35 GovLoop Authors Government Operations13 Data Management15 Social Media15 Pinterest17 Facebook19 YouTube19 Twitter20 Google+
About GovLoop and the GovLoop Guide SeriesGovLoop’s mission is to “con- tion sharing among public produce valuable resources tions Council, whose mem-nect government to improve sector professionals . Gov- and tools, such as guides, bers include, CitySourcedgovernment.” We aim to in- Loop members come from infographics, podcasts, on- and Esri.spire public sector profes- across the public sector; in- line training and educationalsionals by serving as the cluding federal, state, and lo- events, all to help public sec-knowledge network for gov- cal public servants, industry tor professionals do theirernment. GovLoop connects experts as well as non-profit, jobs better. GovLoop alsomore than 55,000 members, associations and academic promotes public service suc-fostering cross-government partners. In brief, GovLoop cess stories in popular newscollaboration, solving com- is the leading online source sources like the Washingtonmon problems and advancing for addressing public sector Post, Huffington Post, Gov-government careers. issues. ernment Technology, and other industry publications.The GovLoop community In addition to being an onlinehas been widely recognized community, GovLoop works The State of Communica-across multiple sectors as with government experts tions Guide is underwrittena core resource for informa- and top industry partners to by the GovLoop Communica-Meet the team/ Acknowledgements Govloop Team: Created & Devel- Location: oped by: STEVE RESSLER - Founder and CEO GovLoop is headquartered in Wash- ington D.C., where a team of dedicated DOUG MASHKURI - Director of Busi- professionals share a common commit- ness Development ment to connect and improve govern- ment. PAT FIORENZA - Research Analyst JEFF RIBEIRA - Creative Director GovLoop 734 15th St NW, Suite 500 COREY MCCARREN - GovLoop Fellow In Partnership with: Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 ANDY KRZMARZICK - Community Fax: (202) 407-7501 Manager
GOVLOOPGUIDE04.Overview Featured Stories &The GovLoop State of Communications Report highlights the key trends sur-rounding communications in government, and provides insights from the Gov-Loop community about how these developments will shape government commu-nications going forward. overnment communications profession- agencies to prove value in programs, communica-G als have always felt the pressures of pub- lishing public news and information as quickly as possible. With the boom in so-cial media, communications has become an evenmore critical function of government. Public re- tions has become a much-needed area of study. Featured Stories At the very core of GovLoop, our passion is to high-lations officers are now faced with an expecta- light and honor public sector professionals. Becausetion of being open 24/7/365, to deliver real-time of this passion, GovLoop would like to honor gov-information to citizens. As citizens have adopted ernment agencies at the state, local and federal lev-social media in their personal lives, the expecta- el that are leaders in government communications.tion has increased for government engagementacross a variety of web-based social platforms. This year, we decided to feature three govern- ment organizations that are leaders in govern-Of course, communications extends well beyond ment communications at the state, local and fed-just social media. There has been a boom in mo- eral level. The organizations highlighted wherebile technology, open innovation platforms, vir- selected by GovLoop staff and were based ontual worlds, geographical informational systems, interactions within the GovLoop community andgreater transparency efforts and improved cus- success stories our members have shared with us.tomer service strategies. A well-crafted commu-nications strategy is now critical for governmentat all levels. Using multiple channels of commu-nication is now essential for government to fulfillthe most important initiatives within an agency.What is exciting about the development of newplatforms and technology is that citizens are atthe center of the discussion. With growing fiscaluncertainty, tightening budgets and pressures on
03.The United States Marine CorpsT 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 Marine Corps Social Media Re- sourcesCorps and the armed services for their commit-ment to our country, their dedication to serve http://www.marines.mil/Pages/Default.aspxand their sacrifice for our lives and liberties. http://marines.dodlive.mil/The Marine Corps has a first class communications http://www.facebook.com/marinespolicy. The challenge for government agencies isthat they need to make sure that their communica- http://www.youtube.com/marinestions program is integrated across the agency, and http://twitter.com/usmctheir key stakeholders can quickly find the informa-tion. From their website layout to their published http://www.flickr.com/marine_corpscontent, the Marine Corps does a great job shar- http://marinesmagazine.dodlive.mil/ing and promoting information to their audience.What put the Marine Corps at the top for the Gov-Loop team was their social media program. Acrossall channels, content is appropriately integratedand effectively represents the mission of the Ma-rine Corps. The Marine Corps also shares guidesand resources for other military branches to usewhile crafting their own social media program.What is clear from the Marine Corps is that there isa strategy behind how they are using social media.The Marine Corps has designated areas for key audi-ence segments. A perfect example of this comes fromthe Facebook page. On the page, prospective MarineCorps members can quickly contact a recruiter througha form on the “Contact a Recruiter” tab or connectwith a Marine in their community, through the “Ma-rine Connect” link. Both are quick and easy for users tofind, and provide a great service to key stakeholders.
The State of IndianaT he State of Indiana has numerous initiatives that has made Indiana one of the leaders in communi-cations at the state level. Once a citizen arrives at the we look forward to sharing this information with you.” Data is presented visually and citizens can also ac- cess excel files with further information. Certainly,State of Indiana website, they can quickly find infor- the Indiana government has made a conscious effortmation they need and are presented with numerous to improve transparency with citizens and provideoptions on the webpage. Very quickly a citizen can them information on how tax money is being spent.subscribe to email alerts and connect with the Stateof Indiana across social channels. Citizens can also ac-cess the “Transparency Portal,” or receive help througha live chat. The design and layout is extremely intuitive Indiana Resourcesand citizens can easily access the right information.One of the more interesting features on the Indiana http://www.in.gov/webpage is the Live Chat support, which is available to https://twitter.com/in_govcitizens Monday – Friday: 7:00AM – 5:00PM. Having alive chat feature is a great customer service initiative to http://www.youtube.com/IndianaGovernmentprovide to Indiana citizens. Another customer service http://www.in.gov/itp/initiative that the State of Indiana provides is a quicklisting of the most frequently asked questions. What isclear from the Indiana help section is that Indiana Stategovernment has taken a multi-channel approach tocustomer service. Citizens can find information quick-ly through the multiple channels provided like thechat feature, FAQ section and the transparency portal.A final element that is worth noting is the IndianaTransparency Portal (ITP). The homepage of the ITPstates, “The Indiana Transparency Portal (ITP) is de-signed to give you, the Indiana taxpayer, an inside lookinto Indiana State Government spending and opera-tions. ITP is an online solution designed to bring bet-ter visibility, openness and accountability to IndianaState Government. The ITP contains information rang-ing from agency budgets to state contracts and agen-cy performance measures. We strive to utilize your taxdollars as efficiently and effectively as possible and
Columbia County, GeorgiaC olumbia County, Georgia, is our featured local government. Columbia County has been growingrapidly since the 1950s. In 1950, Columbia County’s Columbia County Resourcespopulation was 9,525 and has grown to over 105,000 http://blog.citysourced.com/index.php/2222/colum-today. Over the last decade, Columbia County was one bia-county-citizen-reporter/of the fastest growing counties in Georgia. ColumbiaCounty also reports that there are over 1,300 specially http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/trained citizens who volunteer with recreation, emer-gency management, fire and police departments.Columbia County has been featured because of a recentmobile application for citizens. A recent press releaseannounced the app, “The Columbia County Board ofCommissioners is proud to announce the launching ofa new smart phone application that will allow citizensto snap and submit photos, video and audio files ofpotholes, illegal dumping, deceased animals, and anyother issues that Columbia County needs to address.”Commission Chairman Ron Cross stated about themobile app, “In government, you can’t wait for peopleto come to you – you need to give residents the toolsto empower themselves in the most convenient way.This real time mobile application will allow our citi-zens to identify public safety and quality of life issuesand report them to the county for quick resolution.”Mobile is not the only reason why Columbia County hasbeen featured. They have also been selected becauseof their available online services and commitment toaccessibility. The Columbia County website providesnumerous services for citizens. Citizens can makeproperty tax payments online, make service requests,and even make requests to help find or adopt a pet.
GOVLOOPGUIDE08. 10 Trends In Government CommunicationsT 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-dayenvironment for government communications professionals. 1. Digital Divide and Accessibility 2. Culture Change 3. Metrics 4. Data Management 5. Social Media 6. Crisis Management 7. Mobility 8. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) 9. Customer Service 10. Transparency
09. GOVLOOPGUIDEDigital Divide& AccessibilityT echnology plays a tremendous role in our day-to- day lives. Much of our communication now takesplace over the web, and having access to a computer and taken advantage of new technology to provide low-income citizens with access to the internet.and the Internet is critical to being successful. The dig- Broadband Technology Opportunities Pro-ital divide can be looked at through a variety of lenses, gram (BTOP)depending on which segment of the population youare considering. BTOP was part of President Obama’s 2009 Simulus Bill. The bill contained $4.7 billion in grant money forAlthough great strides have been made in closing the those in rural and low-income communities to helpdigital divide, there are still some key challenges. The provide access to broadband technology. Below aredigital divide can encompass everything from prohib- the key findings from a December 2011 quarterly re-itive costs of computers and software, limited acces- port:sibility to Internet in certain areas of the country, andlack of technology education, especially for disadvan- infrastructure projects totaling $3.5 bil-taged groups. 123 lion for broadband networks;Open Government challenges agencies to use tech- Public Computer Center (PCC) projects to-nology to be more transparent, participatory and col-laborative as to how it meets the demands of citizens. 66 taling $201 million in Federal grant funds to provide access to broadband, computer equip-The one problem that government officials face is that ment, computer training, job training, and educa-no level of technology will ever help to close the digi- tional resources to the public and vulnerable popu-tal divide. Government officials need to remember lations; andthat although technology is valuable, it is not a re-placement for traditional methods of communication. Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA)In some cases, technology can exacerbate accessibil-ity challenges to already under-served populations. 44 projects totaling nearly $251 million in Fed- eral grant funds to support innovative projects that promote broadband adoption, especially amongThere are many challenges related to removing the vulnerable population groups where broadbanddigital divide and mitigating its effects. One particu- technology traditionally has been underutilized.lar issue that the federal government has addressed isproviding broadband access to rural and low-incomecommunities. Providing access to broadband would Although there are numerous programs in govern-be a critical step for the nation and help alleviate some ment that are great steps forward, more work needssymptoms of the digital divide. Although the govern- to be done to inform citizens of the opportunity andment has reported success in improving broadband encourage participation to help citizens developaccess, a remaining obstacle continues to be cost of the skills they need to succeed in the future.broadband and computers. There have been somepromising initiatives, which have used smart phones
GOVLOOPGUIDE10.CultureChangeI nstitutional and cultural hurdles exist across all fields and studies of government. Government communi-cations is no exception. Some of the common chal- Without effective measures of success, gov- ernment can’t justify an R&D budgetlenges related to government communications arerisk aversion and undefined metrics. Without a resolu- Government rewards the status quotion to these two challenges, buy-in from senior levelmanagement will not occur. By showing case studies and examples of impact, communications professionals can continue to showRisk Aversion value and remove barriers to their social media pro- gram. The responsibility to be a champion of socialThere have been countless studies about govern- media within an agency relies on the communicationsment 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 governmentthe charge within an agency. communications.In a recent report released by Partnership for PublicService and IDEO, government innovation can comein three forms:Innovation in government can come in three forms: Improving something you already do to deep- en your agency’s impact on people’s lives Adapting a tried and true idea to a new con- text 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 pro- cess for introducing and exploring new ideas
11. GOVLOOPGUIDEMetricsW ith any emerging technology, defining metrics and instituting methods to measure perfor-mance takes time for organizations. This has certainly 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 othersbeen the case with online communications. For in- and received 30 comments. By showing these met-stance, social media metrics are still being defined as rics, some of the value will become more clear. Usingcommunications professionals seek to prove its value. a link shortening service like Bit.ly or Go.USA.gov isMany improvements have been made in the way gov- also enormously helpful, as you can track clicks andernments have defined value, but there is still a long see how many people actually viewed content.way to go to measure impact. Absent those solid met-rics and performance standards, some will continue As budgets get tightened, showing that social mediato question the value of social media. saves money will help remove any roadblocks and in- stitutional hurdles within anTo continue to move past insti- organization. Although so-tutional and cultural hurdles, “The stakes are higher cial media sometimes is notcommunications professionalswill need to continue to define with a failed program in the direct link to a cost sav- ings, it certainly plays a role.value, and develop hard met- government, especiallyrics to measure performance. Cost does not have to be tiedIn a time of tight budgets and in a time when budgets to just savings as a new orresources, online efforts needto contribute to concrete ob- are shrinking” replacement service. Think of cost also in terms of staff-jectives that tie back to an or- ing and personnel. Agenciesganization’s core mission and should make considerationsfunctions. Unlike their coun- and perform analysis of howterparts in the private sector, much time operating a well-the stakes are higher with a failed program in govern- run social media campaign, instead of traditionalment, especially in a time when budgets are shrink- methods, save.ing. Even with well defined metrics, some people will notMeasuring online communication extends beyond be on the bandwagon. This is common with technol-just an understanding of number of followers and ogy adoption. With government using so many newfans. The GovLoop community has identified numer- tools with emerging and undefined metrics, definingous ways to show value of social media. value will continue to shape communications land- scape. Without clearly defined metrics and a moveBy showing the real “reach” of Facebook, Twitter, You- away from risk aversion, there will continue to be chal-Tube, a blog or other channels, communications pro- lenges in receiving buy-in from senior leaders.fessionals can easily show how many people receivedgovernment information. For instance, a tweet may
“Communicationswithout measure- Saving money through program evaluationsment is like soc- Excerpt from “Social media monitoring is critical for government operations.” Blog by Andrew Einhorn, Ad-cer without a net. junct Professor, Georgetown University Instead of slashing budgets arbitrarily, Con-You can kick the gress and agencies could work together to gather information on what the public thinks about government programs andball all day, but services and make budgetary and program- matic changes based on actual evidence,you won’t score not the anecdotal testimony of a few outli- ers marched to hearings on Capitol Hill.without a net. So, OhMyGov Inc. provided such an analysis for the Department of Veterans Affairs inbefore you begin 2010, where we analyzed what veterans complained about online with regard to the services the VA was providing. Given theyour run to the VA’s main charter to provide quality health- care to veterans, it’s easy to think quality ofgoal, visualize the care would be the number one complaint. It wasn’t. Only 5 percent complained about the quality of care they received by the VA.target, determine But 60 percent of complaints were about poor customer service—most of which was directed at seven specific VA facilities. Withthe right path and this information, the VA can allocate re- sources to fix problems instead of mandat-know what you ing more costly and unnecessary across-the- board healthcare quality improvements.want to accom- Social media analysis uses aggregated data. This type of aggregated data, where per-plish when you “ sonally identifiable information is not in- cluded, is critical to informing government operational effectiveness and can save a lotget there. of money by identifying where resources should be spent to fix or solve problems. Why Measure Your Communications? Blog by Rick Alcantara, Principal, Tara Communica- tions LLC
13. GOVLOOPGUIDEDataManagementA nother trend facing government is how agencies are able to manage large quantities of data andinformation. With agencies using multiple online plat- ernment, data must be used to help streamline effi- ciency and optimize services for citizens.forms, they are flooded with information. While these Open Innovation Platformsplatforms are great ways to quickly share informationand connect with citizens, one of the challenges is There are numerous open innovation platforms thathow to extract value from the numerous interactions have been used by government. Open Innovationthat take place. platforms have been implemented at all levels of gov- ernment. Some models are used for internal collabo-One emerging trend is looking at web-based ser- ration, while others are used to tap into the collectivevices which measure sentiment, track key words and intelligence of citizens. Generally, open innovationattempt to find value in the interactions. Although platforms have mechanisms to quickly allow peoplemany of these services are quite expensive to use, to submit ideas, comment on ideas, and vote.there are also some free versions available for govern-ment agencies. One of the big challenges for open innovation plat- forms is that the platform needs to be tied to an in-Some 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 In Focus: Challenge.govdata collected by government agencies. Websites likeData.gov are fantastic spots to share data and infor- The Challenge.gov website describes itself as “an on-mation, but the data sets posted are not always ben- line challenge platform administered by the U.S. Gen-eficial for citizens – at least not without developer as-eral Services Administration (GSA) in partnership withsistance. ChallengePost that empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talentThe problem that plagues government is that gov- to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges. Thisernment is generally “data rich and insight poor.” platform is the latest milestone in the Administration’sThe challenge for government is how to best extract commitment to use prizes and challenges to promoteknowledge from large volumes of data. With new innovation.”and emerging technology, government will continueto collect large and complex data, through multiple Challenge.gov also highlights two of the more suc-channels. Also, the demand for data will continue to cessful challenges that have been staged, NYC Biggrow from citizens and businesses. At all levels of gov-
GOVLOOPGUIDE14.Apps and Apps for Healthy Kids. Although these chal- predefined time and make sure that you com-lenges are free and easy to set up, there are some guid- municate the duration and elapsed time toing principles that federal agencies should follow. The your participants. Having that one time op-following content is an excerpt from a blog written by portunity to submit an idea can also serve asInes Mergel, Assistant Professor of Public Administra- an incentive for participants.tion Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs,Syracuse University. Create a transparent evaluation process: Post the evaluation steps and experts involved inDesigning Challenges judging the submitted solutions prominentlyExcerpt from GovLoop “Crowdsourced Ideas Make Participat- on your website.ing in Government Cool Again.” By Ines Mergel, Assistant Pro-fessor of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship Communicate how you plan to implement theand Public Affairs. final solution. Throughout the implementa- tion process make sure to show the value ofWhile we truly observe only the first lighthouse proj- the crowdsourced solution: How much moneyects and experiments with Open Innovation plat- was saved? Why are government operationsforms, designing challenges is relatively easy. GSA’s now running smoother than before?Challenge.gov for example provides the platform forfree to all federal agencies and challenge administra-tors can follow a relatively straightforward process. Reference:The devil lies in the detail. Here are a few lessons Mergel, I. (2011): Crowdsourced Ideas Make Participat-learned from Open Innovation administrators who ing in Government Cool Again, in: PA Times, Americanstarted to experiment with their local platforms: Society for Public Administration, Vol. 34, No. 4, Octo- ber 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 un- derstand the problem. Experiment with challenges in-house first be- fore 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 partici- pating in the challenge. Showcasing submit- ted solutions on your website can be an incen- tive 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
15. GOVLOOPGUIDESocialMediaT 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 Pinterest Facebookin both the private and public sectors. YouTubeGovernment has traditionally been slower at adopt- Twittering social tools than their counterparts in the private Google+sector. For a variety of reasons, a slower adoption ratemakes sense for government agencies. In some in- FourSquarestances, with tighter budgets and limited resources, Quoraprograms should only be launched when there is a LinkedInsignificant audience that justifies engagement. BloggingPinterest has been rapidly adopted by citizens predominantly for personal use. Although several agencieshave already signed up for Pinterest, others have been more wary. Pinterest has recently released an updatedTerms 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. Agovernment 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 wouldthen follow their boards, keeping up with the latest images from space. Pinterest has also been a proven traf-fic driver; when users click an image it redirects to the original source. The appeal to Pinterest for governmentagencies is still being developed; however as the platform evolves, it is likely to encourage government andprivate 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 isconsidering what kind of content to use on the site. Mike explains that government agencies typically havemore content than they realize to share on Pinterest. Here are 14 great examples that Mike provides:
GOVLOOPGUIDE16. 1. Natural resources departments can post pictures of animals (birds and fish are always winners) or scenic nature shots. 2. Transportation departments can post pictures of bridges, construction trucks or aerial photos of highway interchanges. 3. 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. 4. Cities can post cool pictures of police cars, fire trucks, new civic buildings, historic homes, inter esting artwork or architecture in the city hall. 5. County parks, nature preserves and fairs are great places for photos. 6. 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! 7. Transit and port authorities…Hello, buses, trains, cranes and ships! What’s not to love? 8. Elected officials post pictures of ribbon cutting ceremonies, important business developments, meetings with important people and much more. 9. Tourism boards have more amazing pictures than anyone I can think of. Post away. 10. The military could post pictures of tanks, planes, ships and places around the world. 11. 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. 12. 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. 13. 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. 14. Do you create interesting graphics for reports you create? Post the graphics and link it back to the reports on your website.
17. GOVLOOPGUIDEFacebookFacebook, largely the first social media platform adopted by government agencies, is in some ways verymature in terms of usage in government. Likewise, the way Facebook is used by government is consistentlyevolving. Facebook recently launched their new timeline feature, changing the way content is posted to anorganizations ‘wall’, as well as making several design enhancements. Adapting to these changes can be achallenge for government agencies - it can feel like adopting an entirely new platform. However, when bestpractices 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 anagency are not always the most interesting, even if it is important information to disseminate to citizens. Toassure 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 longerhighlighted.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 agencylogo, 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 aes-thetically 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 existat 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 Features1. 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 themto 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
GOVLOOPGUIDE18. 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 sto-ries, and in your fans’ news feed. We recommend using your official logo and ensure it is sized appropriatelyto the new Facebook image specs: high quality image that scales well from 180 x 180 to 32 x 32 pixels3. 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 upthe width of the Page. This is a feature we recommend using so as to better promote the top content youhave identified for each week in your editorial calendar as it will be prominently featured when a user visitsthe 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 displayedby text tab links. The new Timeline displays apps with visual logo art that will drive more visitors to discover-ing 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 displayimages that are up to 810 pixels.Note: The photos icon is in a fixed position and will always display the most recently uploaded photo. Theviews icon provides a competitive analysis to all Facebook users. We recommend moving this icon off themain 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 willhave the ability to highlight important stories with the star icon, and hide or delete stories that aren’t as en-gaging with the pencil icon.6. Milestones:Publish new events and milestones that define your key moments over time. Facebook provides examples ofmilestones such as reaching a certain number of fans, opening a new store, or winning an award. This featurewill 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 eachvisitors friends activity. When people visit your page, they will see which of their friends likes the Page andhow their friends are interacting with your brand/organization. Research has shown that seeing your friendstalk about a brand will encourage their engagement on the Page and with the brand in a sales environment.
19. GOVLOOPGUIDE8. 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.YouTubeYouTube does one thing, and does it well. The video-sharing platform allows users to upload content andshare it with others. For government, YouTube can be a great way to spread knowledge of governmentprograms. For example, the General Services Administration posts trainings that will appeal to governmentworkers. Though users have the ability to comment on videos, it is not as useful for directly crowdsourcing orassisting citizens as other social platforms. Posting a YouTube video to Facebook or Twitter is a great way todrive 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 theviewers down into categories including gender, age, and geographic location. It’s important for governmentagencies to make sure their videos have a broad appeal and does not isolate any group of people.TwitterThe microblogging site Twitter limits users to 140 characters, making it both the simplest and most complexsocial networking platform. Because of the character limit, agencies need to share information smart, andeach tweet should be strategic in wording.Tweets can consist of hashtags (#), mentions (@), and links. It’s important to have discretion when using eachof these.
GOVLOOPGUIDE20.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 buzzWith 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 areshortened 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 TwitterGoogle+Google+ is a fairly new platform, being slowly adopted by government. It is an additional tool to the Googlesuite, which allows agencies to collaborate internally more efficiently after shifting to a cloud-based GoogleFor Government Apps system.Google+ has had trouble with widespread adoption because of competition from the well-establishedFacebook; however, it does have high potential and is a relevant tool because of its integration across otherGoogle 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 otherGoogle services, adoption is likely to grow.Video-conferencing is another advantage of Google+ via the Google hangout. President Obama has takenadvantage of this by hosting G+ Hangouts with constituents in order to learn about what issues matter mostto them. Hangouts can bring a sense of transparency to government; while only 10 users can be logged intoa Google hangout, an unlimited amount of people can watch.
21. GOVLOOPGUIDETop 10: Obama and Google+ have shaped future leadershipAndreas Addison Civic Innovator, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Richmond, VAI have to admit, last night was pretty awesome. Work had ended, and I was still sitting at my desk, eagerlywaiting for 5:30 to come around. Why? I had a meeting with President Obama. Sure, so did anyone whowanted it, but it was the first POTUS Google+ live streaming event. As things started, the environment waspretty amazing. Regardless of your political affiliation, the candid nature of which the President had liveconversations with normal Americans shows a true understanding of the democratic process. Mr. Presidenttook a risk. Going live to stream to the world a conversation post-State of the Union, was to me a sign of aleader understanding his position and role to the country. Having open discussion about key concerns andsituations that face many Americans today created an opportunity have a glimpse at the true human sideof President. It made him real. As leader, putting yourself in a position of normalcy yet being able to act onanything discussed is pretty amazing.Questions ranged from unemployment, student loans, marijuana, the Occupy movement, to SOPA/PIPA. ThePresident 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 breifedon the questions before answering them, there was a level of focus, intent and honesty in hearing the con-cerns and questions from theh public. The frequent views from behind Obama as he leaned into the camerato see the people asking the questions was impressive. It showed he was intently listening and not just re-sponded through a scripted teleprompter. His preparedness was in who he was and showed how knowledg-able 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 mannerthat 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+ inviteeswere handled with the politcal savvy one would expect from the President. There was however the risk ofgetting posed a question that would evoke a firestorm in the media. There were two responses that havereceived critical comments from. Overall, I feel that this minimally controlled forum showed an honest andopen 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 ap-proach that showed his true level of care and concern for those lucky enough to be a part of this event. Heshowed how much he understood where Americans are today and even gave information and direction tohow 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 justhow human the President is. He related with the individual stories, the families, the hardships, and the trueextent 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 Obamaon Monday night? Where do you see this first Google+ Presidential hangout leading the democratic processnext?
GOVLOOPGUIDE22.FourSquareFourSquare is a platform, usually used as a phone application, which allows users to “check-in” to their currentlocation. Users can achieve badges or Mayorships when they check into different locations - or the same loca-tion - often. FourSquare check-ins can be shared on Twitter and Facebook, allowing people at a local event toshare it with their friends.FourSquare users can visit government venues and give each other tips, such as with parking. Agencies canencourage visits to their sites by creating the venues on FourSquare then giving them descriptions; they canalso hold competitions for mayorships.QuoraQuora is a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to ask questions and get responses. According to numeroussources, Quora is expected to grow rapidly. If the platform does grow, it could become a benchmark for gov-ernment agencies looking to crowdsource solutions.One challenge currently facing agency use of Quora is that it requires a real name, which that means thatagencies can’t sign up as their agency. Using a representative is a viable solution to the problem, but it’s dif-ficult to get a representative as much visibility as the organization itself.LinkedInLinkedIn is the most widely used professional networking website. It distinguishes itself by having a subscrip-tion-centric model on top of advertising, though most users opt for the basic (free) account. The advantageof 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 isoften with Facebook. Though there are far fewer LinkedIn members than there are on Facebook, group inter-action is often comparable between LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages. Because of its audience and highengagement, LinkedIn is an important crowdsourcing solutions and engagement tool for government.BloggingBlogging is useful for government agencies, providing an inexpensive avenue to reach the public. As op-posed to sending out a press release, blogs are published in personal web-journals and thus are cost-effi-cient. The federal government, via http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference-Shelf/News/blog.shtml, has its ownblogging platform, allowing citizens to easily keep up with the latest government happenings.
23. GOVLOOPGUIDECrisisManagementC risis management is a quickly evolving field of communications. With so many technologiesavailable to aid in crisis communications, government Excerpt From, Social media monitoring is critical for government operations Blog by Andrew Einhorn, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Universityagencies are constantly looking at ways to reform andimprove crisis communications. Whether it was the recent earthquake in Virginia, Arab protests during Arab Spring, or Captain Sully’s heroicToday, crisis management crosses multiple disci- landing of a commercial passenger airplane on theplines. Information during a crisis is shared through Hudson River, the best and usually the first bits of in-the cloud, GIS, Twitter, Facebook, and can be shared in formation about the situation on the ground duringa mobile environment or from a computer in an emer- emergencies and natural disasters are coming fromgency command center. individual, first-hand witness accounts posted to so- cial media. If the government does not monitor thatMobility has certainly become a very important part of information, then we are quite simply abandoningcrisis communications. In many instances, a commu- precious resources and turning our backs on life-sav-nications professional is on staff at emergency centers ing information.monitoring social media channels, to help in recoveryassistance. Citizens can easily access Facebook and If social media were a viable resource during 9/11 andTwitter from mobile devices, and are increasingly us- the government was monitoring social media chan-ing these platforms to obtain and share information in nels, perhaps Americans would have been more pre-crisis situations. pared and armed with information to help them stay safe in the unfolding crisis. The same may be true forOther important aspects of mobile are for crisis profes- Katrina. Had Twitter been as pervasive of a tool forsionals to use their mobile devices to share resources spreading information then, operators on the groundon the move, take pictures, use maps, and share infor- could have been able to more readily identify assetsmation instantly in the cloud. available at their disposal, such as the infamous doz- ens of yellow school buses left to rot in the parking lot that could have been used as transport vehicles for displaced persons.
GOVLOOPGUIDE24.MobilityT he use of mobile technology might be the hot- test of the ten trends. One of the pressing chal-lenges now for government agencies is how to make One of the challenges of implementing mobile is hav- ing support from management. With the call to be a ‘lean, clean and smart city’ from the highest-rankingonline resources available in a mobile environment. public official in the city, Forest was able to run withThe move towards mobile has led to many signifi- the project. Forest continued, “We took Mayor Carl-cant changes for government employees and citizen isle’s leadership as a challenge to create innovativeengagement. As smart phones and mobile become ways for our citizens to get connected to governmentmore widely available, more citizens are accessing the easier and hopefully become more involved in theweb through mobile technology. process of making Honolulu the best city it can be.One fascinating part of mobile is that numerous pri- With support behind the initiative, Forest began con-vate sector companies have started up in the last few sidering what kind of services the mobile app shouldyears with the basis of improving citizen engagement provide and the key needs of a citizen on a mobilethrough mobile technology. By using mobile tech- platform. One observation from Forrest was that gov-nology, citizens can quickly take charge of their com- ernment does not have all the answers, and shouldmunity, report incidents and hold their government be using existing technology to help leverage changeaccountable. Some emerging trends in mobile tech- within a city.nology are: “Government can’t solve every problem, we needThe following is an excerpt from the GovLoop Indus- help form the community and through apps like Citytry Perspective Case Study featuring the Honolulu 311 Sourced we can facilitate that happening,” stated For-mobile app. This is part of the GovLoop Industry Per- rest. This kind of philosophy has not only driven inno-spective Series. You can view the entire case study by vation in the City of Honolulu, but also across all levelsfollowing this link. of government.In early 2012, the City of Honolulu released a new app, By opening up more channels of engagement andHonolulu 311. Honolulu 311 allows citizens to use tapping into and extracting knowledge from citizens,personal smartphones to report abandoned vehicles, government can work to address some of its morebroken streetlights, illegal dumping and other issues. critical and complex challenges.GovLoop Research Analyst Pat Fiorenza had the op- To read the entire Industry Perspectiveportunity to sit down with Forest Frizzell, Deputy Di-rector at City and County of Honolulu to learn more and the rest of the interview withabout the history behind the app. Forest stated, “When Forest Frizzel, please view theour Mayor took office a year ago he said he wanted to GovLoop Industry Perspective here.work towards creating a “lean, clean, and smart citythat is looking towards the future.”
AboutCitySourcedCitySourced is a real time mobile civic engagement platform. CitySourced provides a simple and intui-tive platform empowering residents to identify civic issues (public safety, quality of life, environmentalissues, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution; an opportunity for government to usetechnology 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 asnap.Client Testimonials“We’re using CitySourced to connect people and their government through smart technologies thatimprove 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 andquality 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 thenot-too-distant future in addition to all traditional means of communication and common electronicforms, I believe we will see increasing use of mobile devices, and especially smart phones, as the pre-ferred means of resident-to-government communications and transactions.” Ed Fraga, IT Director at Glendale, CA
GOVLOOPGUIDE26.GISApplicationsT he basic definition of GIS is that it is a technology that enables spatial representation of geographyand data through maps. GIS extends much more than 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.a modern day cartographic tool, and to think of GISin such simple terms diminishes the impact and po- GIS has multiple applications, one area we are seeing atential of GIS. One of the most pressing issues for gov-lot of impact is in crisis management. During an emer-ernment and challenges that government is facing is gency, officials need to be able to quickly connect andmanaging complex data and making it visual to drive collaborate with each other. This is now easier to dodecision making and improve citizen engagement. than ever before with modern technology. With GISGIS technology works to impact this element. technology, information can be instantly shared and updated in real-time - this information allows decisionGIS technology takes seemingly intricate and complex makers to improve their decision making during a cri-abstract 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 helpexamples of GIS come from the federal government. improve transparency, identify at risk communities and be used to help manage critical resources of theGeographic Information Systems have been adopted community.But that’s just the start, here are my Topby dozens of agencies across the state, local and fed- 10 benefits of GIS:eral level of government. Too often, we underestimatethe value of what GIS brings to the decision-making Improved decision by government officialsprocess. GIS technology can be found across multiple Instantaneous collaboration through the clodisciplines within government. Layer complex data to drive improve decision makingTop 10 Benefits of GIS Technology Improved transparency for citizen engagementBlog Post by Pat Fiorenza, Research Analyst, GovLoop Identify at-risk or under-served populations with- in a communityThere is so much that you can do with a GIS technol- Improved allocation of resources and planningogy, the most common example is making layers with Management of natural resourcesdata showing all sorts of different variables of a com- Improved communications during a crisismunity to help inform decision makers and inform the Cost savings by improved decision makingpublic. For example, my hometown of Syracuse could Planning for demographic changes to communityreally use (and publicize) housing information. A use-ful application would be to see how many vacanthouses are in the city, and map that with educationallevels, income, etc.
AboutEsriEsri is an exciting company doing important work. Our technology enables organizations to createresponsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales. At Esri, we believe thatgeography 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 analyticknowledge 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 orga-nization.History of EsriIn 1969, Esri president Jack Dangermond and his wife, Laura, founded Environmental Systems Re-search Institute, Inc. (Esri), in Redlands, California. Esri’s early mission was to organize and analyzegeographic information to help land planners and land resource managers make well-informedenvironmental decisions. These studies resulted in maps that showed constraints and opportunitiesfor development. In the mid-1970s, San Diego County, California, selected Esri to develop a polygoninformation overlay system (PIOS), which became the company’s first foray into creating a geographicinformation system (GIS).A global company from the beginning, Esri began developing relationships with like-minded compa-nies in Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada, forming the foundation of today’s large internationalnetwork of distributors.
GOVLOOPGUIDE28.CustomerServiceT o improve government wide customer service, agencies need to take a hard look at themselves,the services they provide and the mission of the orga- DS: We started with several surveys asking the citi- zens and employees how to improve our web site. We formed a development committee involving employ-nization. One of the big challenges for government is ees from all divisions of the City and also some exter-to “untangle the knots,” and quickly solve problems for nal constituents (veteran, etc.).citizens. Since many customer service initiatives havemultiple entry points, agencies need to be careful to AK: I just used your chat feature (which I love andcraft policies, procedures and processes to quickly strongly recommend to cities since it’s the most im-provide the most critical information to citizens, as ef- mediate form of online engagement they can use).ficiently as possible. Tell me how you staff it - who, how often, length of time during the day, etc.?The GovLoop community has discovered somethemes that help agencies identify their customer ser- DS: Our receptionist staff the online chat 8-5 everyday.vice needs. One critical element to customer service is We also have a chat client in our utility billing depart-mapping out the customer service program. Agencies ment and at the service center (public works depart-can start by identifying their key customers and begin ment) that answer questions concerning trash, street,to think critically about what the customer wants to landfill, and water line repairs.accomplish. AK: Any other tips or recommendations you’d makeOnce this is understood, agencies should chart out a for your colleagues as they’re striving to more effec-map that walks through each contact point with the tively engage citizens wherever they are?customer and interaction with the customer. At eachlevel, the agency can think how they can improve the There are a lot of free tools that municipalities can usecustomer experience. In doing so, agencies will be to engage citizens (facebook, twitter, youtube, andable to streamline the customer experience. flickr). I would suggest that the government body use a Gov2.0 tool (e.g. Spigit, BrightIdeas, Jive, etc.) thatEnid, Oklahoma is a great example of a well-defined allows the community to share their ideas on how tocustomer service strategy. As part of one of GovLoop’s make their government body better. In using theseProject’s of the Week Series, Derrick Silas, City of Enid tools, remain honest to the community and they willWeb Communications Developer/Social Media Strat- appreciate it and feel more compelled to participateegist sat down with GovLoop Community Manager in the openness in government. I would suggest thatAndrew Krzmarzick to talk about the City of Enid and other municipalities allow their staff to attend con-their citizen engagement strategy. ferences (e.g. National Association of Government Communicators [NAGC], National Association of Gov-AK: How did you decide to incorporate these ele- ernment Webmasters [NAGW], etc.) to network withments? Were citizens involved? Key city stakehold- other government entities and to get best practicesers?
29. GOVLOOPGUIDETransparencyW hat is driving government to be more open and transparent? Is being more open occurring outof necessity by government due to the fiscal climate? 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 toWith such limited resources, government is being build applications to assist in improving governmentforced to be more open, transparent and collaborate services and are empowering citizens to hold more ofacross agencies. Or is a more open government devel- a stake in their community.oping because of increasing pressures from citizens?There is a pressure from citizens and a desire for amore connected government that can use technol-ogy to improve government operations. “The challenge for transparency is that “transparent”can mean multiple things across agencies and lev- Transparency pro-els of government. There are complex questions thatrelate to government transparency - how can wemeasure transparency? What are the requirements motes accountabilitythat make an agency transparent? How do we definetransparency? What level of transparency is appropri- and provides informa-ate? The answers to those questions likely are differ-ent across agencies, so being “transparent” can have tion for citizens aboutdifferent meanings to various agencies and certainlyto citizens. what their governmentThere are many different ways to try and tackle trans- is doing. Informationparency; one way is the releasing of data sets thatgovernment collects. This can be done in a variety of maintained by the Fed-different ways - if it is releasing data in raw form forcitizens or taking a more structured approach andproviding limited data with key insights. Typically, this eral Government is a “all depends on the agency’s mission and varying in-ternal processes for transparency. Other transparency national assetefforts include allowing citizens to visualize data onmaps, mobile applications, and improved customer - President Barack Obamaservice by providing the right information that is eas-ily accessible.A trend that continues to grow is that governmentagencies are realizing they do not hold all the an-
GOVLOOPGUIDE30.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?
31. GOVLOOPGUIDECreating an EffectiveCrisis Communications Blog by Sandy Evans Levine, President, Advice Unlimited LLCPlanWe live in an “instant information” age, with 24-hours news channels on TV, radio, and the Web, all needinginformation and wanting exciting, attention-getting headlines. This creates an environment where managingthe message to the media takes on heightened importance, since the chance for a misstep to go unnoticed isslim. We have all seen the effects of negative media exposure and witnessed the ramifications of harmful leaksor misinformation to the press. The results have caused businesses to suffer, organizations to be unfairly ma-ligned, 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 canhave 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 furthertrauma. And this communication and interaction with the media and the public can be done in a manner that’sconsistent with protecting sensitive sources and information.Many government agencies are reviewing their crisis communications plans and putting Public InformationCenters (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 trainingteam members and spokespeople, and overall provides necessary tools so your organization is well preparedto speedily respond to a potential media crisis. A thorough planning phase should include the following:
GOVLOOPGUIDE32. 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 planAs disasters unfortunately seem to be a more common occurrence, our skills for dealing with them must behoned. An effective crisis communications plan provides your team with the blueprint to navigate rough wa-ters effectively, to minimize panic, reassure your audiences, and protect sensitive sources. A delicate balancingact - but one Public Affairs and Public Relations professionals must engage in more and more frequently. Plan-ning and preparedness help make dealing with a disaster a lot less disastrous.12 Hopes for 2012 Enhanced Adoption of Digital Excerpt from GovLoop Blog by Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD TechnologiesMy specific hopes below are predicated on a general hope – namely, that the global economy will stabilizeenough to encourage people to focus on the future with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence. I alsohope we will devote more energy to action than talk, working together to address the opportunities and chal-lenges we face rather than bickering and playing the blame game. The realization of these hopes is critical toall 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 themeans 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 will-ingness and ability of people to leverage them. Jane Young summarizes the situation well in her comment onthis Forbes piece:Our biggest challenge isn’t keeping up with the latest in social media, it’s finding ways to get mindset to catchup with capabilities and new knowledge…. Companies who recognise we’re facing a psychological challengerather than a technological one, will thrive.
33. GOVLOOPGUIDEMy hopes for 2012 are rooted in the psychological challenges we face and are built on our willingness – bothindividually 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; demonstrat- ing 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 ap- propriate 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 for- ward 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 ap- propriate 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!
GOVLOOPGUIDE34. More high-quality formal education and training about social media and other new digital technolo- gies 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 ex- ploited 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 de- fining 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 Pub- lic 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 Com- munications Report.” Thank you to all those who were referenced in the guide and con- tributed quotes, blog posts and content. In particular, thank you to Andrew Krzmarzick, GovLoop Community Manager, who served as a contributing author to various por- tions 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 sec- tion. Thank you to Jeff Riberia, Creative Director, GovLoop, who designed the guide. GovLoop 734 15th St NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 Fax: (202) 407-7501