Yesterday morning I attended a SRO Public Communication event put on by the Federal Consulting Group and GovDelivery. Over 120 government PA Officers and IT and Web Managers came to hear how agencies are using new digital channels and automated email alerts to better share their content with the public. We heard from a panel of experts who are really “walking the walk” when it comes to using technology in innovative ways to better disseminate their content.
Sheila Campbell is Team Leader for USA.gov’s Web Best Practices and oversees their Gov Gab blog. The ground-breaking blog just celebrated its first birthday. Sheila shared with the audience the many reasons for launching a blog — public access, exposing more people to your content, giving government a human face, SEO, opening up your culture and engaging more citizens in conversation. She also addressed some of the perceived barriers to 2.0 tools like blogs, all of which can be addressed — legal, privacy, security, authenticity of content and employee access to 2.0 applications. Sheila told us it’s all about managing risk vs. the public benefit of new communication channels.
Jeff Morin is Senior Web Editor for the EPA. The success story he shared was around the online promotion the EPA gave to Earth Day last April. He described how the agency created a “Green Tip of the Day,” that citizens could subscribe to during the countdown to Earth Day. That feature eventually became the Earth Day widget, which people could download and place on their sites. The most popular tips were also made into audio podcasts that could be easily shared. Together these new applications produced over 300,000 additional visitors to the EPA web site.
Maxine Teller is New Media Strategist for the Department of Defense, New Media Directorate. She was all about video — videos to support Warrior Care Month. She pointed out that 65% of the members of the armed forces were born in 1982 or later, meaning they’ve grown up in a digital culture. The Directorate’s use of online video began for that internal audience, but has since also been shared externally. The Directorate uses GovDelivery email alerts to alert subscribers whenever new video or other content is updated. Starting in July 2007 with GovDelivery, they already have accumulated 47,000 subscribers, and over 300,000 emails have been sent supporting Warrior Care Month. Maxine also described a very smart program called Bloggers Roundtable, in which the Directorate gives access to senior level military officials to hundreds of bloggers, who then post the information to their readers.
The Q&A was lively, but I didn’t take notes since I was shooting some video interviews — hope to have those up soon. If you’re in this space definitely register for the next event — but do it early!