This post also appears on www.localgovchat.com.
It was nearly 2 am when my wife creeped down the stairs, stepped into the living room and gave me that glare.
‘Once again, Mike was up late staring at the stupid glowing monitor.’
“Why don’t you just give it to the graphics department?” she says. I didn’t even respond. I had to have the new form cleaned up, edited and printed for an 8:30 am meeting. Oh yeah, and I AM the graphics department.
It was just the latest of many moments recently that made me realize that I needed help. And there were probably other communications people in cities, counties and townships across the country that were also getting glared at by their spouses – or maybe their pets – who also needed some help.
So here we go.
So much focus in government communications right now is on federal government using social media for transparency – #opengov – through data, applications and real-time dashboards. The movement is exciting and certainly important and cities, especially mine, are charging forward right along with them.
But for localgov communications folks – who tend to be the public relations, media relations, community outreach, graphics designers, publicists, webmasters, copyeditors, community managers, speechwriters, consiglieres, etc. for their one single elected client – we have our own set of issues, talents and limitations.
Are we feeling sorry for ourselves? Absolutely not. Small business and boutique PR shops face similar multi-tasking, multi-job issues and have way more personal and likely way more financial interest at stake.
But when I attended the inaugural Gov 2.0 Camp last March, there were about 6 or 8 of us local folks slipping in and out among hundreds of federal folks. When I go to GovTwit I still see only a sprinkling of local folks. And heard very little about localgov from the recent LA version. Where are you? Why aren’t we talking?
Where can we ask @edinamn why they decide to broadcast links and not to talk to residents? Where can I ask @stpaulpublicw how they handle communications during snow emergencies? How is@cityofmobile us mobile technology to reach residents? And hopefully we can find and help people who aren’t using social media and help them overcome the initial fears, confusion and frustrations.
What we’re hoping to accomplish
We’re hoping to use @localgovchat, www.localgovchat.com and #localgovchat to get a lot of us (and there are a lot) to communicate, share what works for suburban areas, rural areas, urban areas, etc. If you’re not using twitter for notification or for customer service, we can help each other. If you don’t know how to geocode for a Google map, we can help each other. If you need to help figuring out what the hell bounce rate means, we can help each other. At the very least, we can highlight each other and share our work with each other.
We are all hustling every day – and every night – with little to no financial resources. So let’s pool our knowledge and experience. Let’s help each other. I need it. My wife needs it.
– Mike Rupert