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State Dept: Liveblogging Public Diplomacy / Gov 2.0 Innovation Dr Jonathan Margolis

Dr. Jonathan Margolis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Gov 2.0 Innovation / Public Diplomacy

Mission: Engage, inform and influence foreign audiences in discussions about topics that are central to US interests.
How will we use Web 2.0 tools and technologies to achieve this mission?
One solution follows:

Democracy video challenge: Challenge young filmmakers, democracy advocates and citizens from around the world to share their views on democracy in an online global dialogue through video and web 2.0 technologies.

Two central issues: How do we build credibility? (i.e., “They don’t care…”)
What is the incentive for our audience? (“Why spend my time on it?”)

Addressing credibility — global partners in academia, media, entertainment, YouTube, youth, etc…
Benefits: contest platform, credibility, increased reach, more…

Users submit 3-minute videos finishing the sentence: “Democracy is…”
Independent jury of 50 international people viewed and chose the finalists.
18 finalists, three from each of six global regions. Public viewing and voting chose final “winners.”
900+ videos from 95 countries
500 million news impressions since Sept 2008
1.5+ million global viewers
10,000 friends, followers and fans

Submissions from Iran, Russia, China, as well as African, American, European and other countries.
Overall winners were from Zambia, Poland, UAE, Nepal, Philippines, Brazil

Contest ended in June, but social media still active, people talking on Facebook, etc.

Lessons learned:
Balance user-generated content and editorial control
Be transparent: Explain what you’re doing
Respect your partners
Know your media

International Democracy Day: September 15th

Q: The video contest feels like a big success to me. How are you measuring success with your meta-mission, the global engagement with the people of other countries and the positive shifts in their perceptions of us?

A: Thanks, you’ve pinpointed a crucial point — we weren’t running a video contest, we’re engaging the people of other countries in the conversation about democracy. We know we’re interacting with not just the 900+ people who submitted videos, we’re interacting with the 5,000 or 10,000 people who helped create the videos, PLUS their social networks which reach into the millions. Success is keeping this conversation going and growing.

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