When the dam breaks…

It is amazing to watch how quickly things can change once a key leadership change – of mind or person – occurs in a government department.

In the last four weeks Australia has gone from having no digital diplomats, lagging the world, to having four (@AusAmbUSA, @AusHCIndia@AusAmbJP and @DubesAustralia) – hopefully with many more to come (selected strategically) as we still lag behind nations like the US in leveraging these tools.

This is being reported to me as happening in other agencies as well – sometimes as almost a collective awakening to the benefits of engaging online.

Of course this isn’t necessarily all good. There needs to be care taken to understand different online channels and use the right tools for purpose.

It also doesn’t necessarily reflect a culture shift. I’m still seeing governments, every day, using 2.0 technologies in 1.0 ways and attempting to insert barriers to limit ‘conversational risk’ that, conversely, frustrate people and increase risk (they go talk about you somewhere else).

If you’re a communications professional, or a proponent of social media, it is a very good time to ensure that your skills are up-to-date and your social media policy and plans ready – in draft form – to go to executive when they ask.

As I’ve blogged before, Ignorance (of social media) is risk and it pays to ensure you have enough knowledge to make good recommendations, avoiding the known pitfalls through good planning.

For Communications professionals who refuse to consider the use of online channels, your effective career is shortening fast, as is the effectiveness of policy and program managers – however there’s still time to expand your skills to all the new ‘tools of the trade’.

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