Posts tagged ‘government’

To 2.0 or not 2.0? That is the Government’s Question

**This article I wrote was originally published at ReadWriteWeb on September 10, 2008. And P.S., I still don’t have the internet, but the install is scheduled for Wednesday…hence the blogging delay. Thank you for your understanding!

And we’ve got the answer. Three of them actually: Listen, learn, and let go.

Let’s face it, Web 2.0 is a buzzword. And when it comes to government, change, and innovation, we have to reach beyond buzzwords. Surprising to some, the government isn’t too far beyond.

The other week Mark Drapeau, Government 2.0 columnist for Mashable, suggested that the government is currently in a state of 1.4, at least when it comes to Twitter.* I would agree, however, as my lovely professors back in grad school taught me to say, “it depends.”

Government is doing some amazing social media initiatives to better serve their constituents, and why not – social media is all about increasing the democratization of communications. The government serves its people, and thus, it’s a perfect match.

We government-familiar types know of the greatness that is CDC – from their virtual world explorations in Whyville and SecondLife, to their numerous podcasts, e-cards, MySpace page and blog, and their CDC-TV channel, they are leading the way. But there’s more.

The EPA has its own cause on Facebook for its EnergySTAR program to stop global warming. The U.S. Intelligence Agency has it’s own data-sharing and social network-esque called Intellipedia. TSA uses its blog Evolution of Security as instrumental to its customer service abilities. Not to mention, there are currently 7 head directors and decision makers with their own blog. But, I will admit that some areas in government just need some more coaching.

If you are within government or outside of government, here are three helpful strategies to be the social media maven for your agency: Listen. Learn. And Let go.

These three strategies are listed in no particular order as they all circle one another. Think back when you learned how to ride a bike. You did not let go of the training wheels, until you have learned how to ride the bike. But, you couldn’t learn how to ride the bike, until you listened to the instructions. Same deal.

Listening

The more you learn about the space, the more comfortable you will become. This will involving listening to webinars and speakers on the topic. For starters, the CDC is having a live web dialogue on September 18th with an expert panel to talk about how government health agencies can integrate social media practices into their initiatives. There are currently 217 people signed up!

Listening also involves learning how to search, and how to search effectively. Largely, learning how to navigate the RSS feeder. I know it looks intimidating. I was at first too. But, it’s called Real Simple Syndication for a reason, because it really can be simple. Check out Google Reader or Bloglines or email me, and we can work together.

Learning

While listening, you will learn. It’s inevitable. I have best found that learning is maximized when you live with what Geoff Livingston said best in one of Buzz Bin blog posts, “You cannot underestimate the value of remaining teachable.” Attending speakers, applying your knowledge and participating in the space as an individual all help facilitate learning.

For example, Sec. Mike Leavitt and a group of world leaders came together in 2007 to create the Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog. Through this short-term blog, conversations and discussions were shared leading up to an offline Leadership Forum. Taking the lessons learned from this experience, Sec. Leavitt launched his own blog on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in August 2007.

Letting Go

As your listening and learning combines, eventually, you will feel more comfortable in letting go. And letting go can include baby steps. Like, the case of Sec. Leavitt, you can build upon past activities. Do gather the statistics. Do highlight other case studies.

• Perhaps, instead of creating your own social network, it begins with placing a web badge or banner about your initiative on a social network.
• Perhaps, instead of creating a Twitter account feed, you conduct Twitter searches for your government agency’s name and important keywords.
• Perhaps, instead of creating your own blog, first do a guest entry on an already established blog.
• Perhaps, when pitching new information or publications to traditional news outlets, see if that media organization has a relevant blog column or social media reporter and share your information with him or her.

The ideas are endless, which is why being relevant is core. Let’s not be doing things for the sake of doing them. Let’s connect in meaningful ways. The tools may be new, but the importance of relationship-building and support remain constant. I’m excited to have the opportunity to highlight in this Government 2.0 column ways our government is being innovative as we all listen, learn and let go together.

*Context and attribution corrected.

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September 15, 2008 at 3:03 am 3 comments

EPA Blogger Neighbor Aaron, brings more than Green to the Greenversation

This week’s Blogger Neighborhood profile intrigues you more and more as you read. Not only does Aaron do fascinating work for the EPA, but he also lives a life full of passion – for the environment, for adventure and for his family.

I mean, not sure about you, but I haven’t met too many other people who have been both an elephant trainer and a first-mate on a whale watching boat…and that’s just the beginning. Enjoy!

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Blog Name: Greenversations

Blog Topic: Greenversations is the official blog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, writing about personal experiences related to their work. Science Wednesday on the blog features EPA research and development efforts, highlighting environmental and human health research. The overall goal is to engage the public to help accomplish EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

About the Author: Aaron Ferster is the lead science writer-editor for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. As a member of the science communications team, Aaron’s primary focus is communicating EPA research and development to the general public, translating often highly technical environmental and human health science into language and media that is accessible, accurate and engaging to non-scientific audiences.

Before coming to EPA, Aaron spent ten years working as an exhibit writer and developer at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park, in Washington, D.C. He also worked as a first-mate on a whale watch boat, an assistant camera man for National Geographic film crew, and an elephant trainer. He lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, two daughters (one hearing, one deaf), a dog, and a turtle. He and his wife are currently working on a book together about their experiences raising a deaf daughter.

What first Prompted Him to Blog: I’ve been a big fan of blogs for a while. I’m really intrigued by the evolution of the way bloggers and their readers communicate, forming free-flowing, often passionate on-line communities. So when the opportunity to blog at EPA came along, I jumped at the chance. My first chance to post on Greenversations was to help promote “Bike to Work Day.” I’m an avid bike commuter, so it was a perfect fit.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from blogging? That people are interested in what EPA is doing, and that blogging is a completely appropriate way for us and other government agencies to engage the public in an ongoing dialogue.

If you could live on any street, what would the street be named, and why? Abbey’s Way (Take the other) – tribute to Edward Abbey, one of my favorite writer’s, and a passionate environmentalist.

Who would be your dream real-life neighbor? A full complement of native critters: owls, box turtles, red-tailed hawks, orioles, black snakes, skunks, foxes, white-tailed deer, and perhaps the wandering bear or coyote now and again. We had a pair of barred owls nest in a tree next to our house a couple years ago and the kids loved it.

What latest new bites would you share with your neighbors if they asked you how you were doing? Puppy news – we have an eight-month-old puppy and our neighbors on both sides also have young dogs, so we have lots of puppy news to chat about.

What would you give to a new neighbor as the perfect welcoming gift? Fresh blueberry pie and a gallon of vanilla ice cream.

What is your favorite blog post and why? Michael Chorost, a deaf science writer and author of Rebuilt: how Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human, keeps a blog about his experiences as a cochlear implant recipient. My wife and I are currently embroiled in a fight with my health insurance company over refusal to cover a second cochlear implant for our daughter. Chorost chronicles a similiar fight he had on his blog, and his post has been both educational and inspirational.

Past Blogger Neighbors Include:

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This continuous weekly series highlights different blogs and their respective bloggers in the blogosphere neighborhood. Following the great Mr. Rogers, who tells us to ‘Get to know your neighbor,’ this series introduces us to our blogger neighbors, making for a more unified, collaborative voice for the social sector. Like to nominate someone or be featured yourself? Contact me @ socialbutterfly4change@gmail.com.

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July 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm 1 comment

The Government’s A-Twitter: Comprehensive List of Government Twitter Feeds

This post is written in the spirit of social media guru Robert Scoble’s visit to DC and his interviews with political reps to discuss tech policy. Specifically, let’s talk about the fact that the U.S. government is a-twittering. True words, government and Twitter in the same sentence. Scoble reflects in his post here.

Even U.S. President George Bush sent out his 1st Twitter with the help of Sen. John Culberson when Sen. Culberson was showing the President both Twitter and Qik. You can see it here!

American Flag

Government Agencies

For government agencies, most often, the Twitter account is in conjunction with the government’s related blog. So, now, we’re getting government agencies who are not only blogging, but using TwitterFeed to promote the posts through Twitter. I am still rounding up info. to find government accounts on Jaiku and/FriendFeed.

@dipnote – The U.S. Department of State

@govgab – USA.gov, component of their blog, GovGab

@greenversations – The Environmental Protection Agency

@TSABlogTeam – Transportation Security Administration, Based on TSA’s Evolution of Security Blog

@USAgov – USA.gov

@GobiernoUSA – USA.gov’s Spanish Portal

@womenshealth – Womenshealth.gov

@NASA – Well, it’s NASA =) Check out NASA’s Twitter box and find various other NASA Twitter feeds about certain missions including @MarsPhoenix, @nasacolab, and 13 other NASA related feeds!

Government Officials

@BarackObama – Barack OBama

@joebiden – Sen. Joe Biden

@JimDeMint – Sen. Jim DeMint

@SenatorDodd – Sen. Chris Dodd

@ChuckGrassley – Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa)

@frankwatson – Sen. Frank Watson

@jiminhofe – Sen. Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma)

@johnculberson – Congressman John Culberson

@MarkUdall – Congressman Mark Udall (Colorado) On his website, he is even implementing his own mini-social network for citizens to join, blog and join county groups!

@TomLatham – Congressman Tom Latham (Iowa)

@neilabercrombie – Congressman Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii)

@ThadMcCotter – Congressman Thad McCotter (Michigan)

@CongJoeWilson – Congressman Joe Wilson

@schwarzenegger – California Gov. Arnold Schwarsenegger

@GovernorGibbons – Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons

@govgranholm – Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm

@johncherry – Michigan Lieutenant Gov. John Cherry

@PeterKinder – Missouri Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder

U.S. States

@coloradogov – Colorado Government

@kygov – Kentucky Government

@vermontgov – Vermont Government

@UtahGov – Utah Government

@SCGOV – South Carolina Government

@www_maine_gov – Maine Government

@rigov – Rhode Island Government

Other

@TheWhiteHouse – The White House

@HouseFloor – U.S. House of Representatives

@SenateFloor – The U.S. Senate

@NRSC – National Republican Senatorial Committee

@secgen – The U.N. Secretary General

If I missed any, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Ok, what are your thoughts? Is this a good thing? What does this mean, and how will it affect or impact constituent and government relations? LOVE to hear, =)

photo cred: Flickr, vagabondrhythm


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June 26, 2008 at 3:43 am 36 comments

Blogger Outreach Series 1: Regulation, in reference to government blogging

hotoblog

On my Twitter feed, I recently asked the question:

What are people’s experience with their clients and organizations about incorporating blogs and/or blogger outreach to their interactive marketing plans?

I ask this because as social media knowledge expands, more organizations are looking at the concept of blogging, including government agencies. Thus, this next series of posts will revolve around questions organizations must ask themselves when wrestling with the ‘blogging dilemma.’ Or, to change the outlook and attitude, the blogging opportunity.

**********************************

Question 1: To blog, or not to blog, that is the question.

The first response I usually receive when discussing blogging is a question relating to regulation. Thus, to start-off this series, this post will focus on regulation. Not all organizations desire to blog. In fact, many fear blogging because of a popular notion that it is an unregulated mode of communications…a public relations disaster waiting to unfold. These fears inspire numerous questions.

1. What if someone leaves a bad comment?
2. What if the blogosphere doesn’t approve or doesn’t view us as transparent?
3. How will we manage this logistical mess?
4. How do we even evaluate if we make any progress?
5. What can a blog even achieve?
6. What is a blog?
7. What will a blog cost us?
8. How do we control a blog?

and the list continues. These questions cover a lot of topics. In my experience, this concept of regulation most often appears with government clients. Here is a common statement:

We can’t do blogging. It’s unregulated and you have no idea what people will say or how they’ll say it. We are a government agency, and we can’t take that sort of risk.”

This fear is understandable. For those not infiltrated in the blog arena, it appears messy – and at times, honestly, it is. However, the blogosphere doesn’t have to be completely viewed as ‘unregulated.’

Here are two examples on how organizations have approached blogging:

1. Regulate Blog Access. One organization I’m working with loves the idea of blogs, so much…(possibly a bit too much in my opinion…but hey, it’s also going to be a trial and error basis)…that their site will have 5-8 blogs. Logistically, this will be interesting. But in theory, the idea is to regulate who has blog access. The site will be set-up as an online community, so only members will see all the topical blogs. Whereas, the public will only see the one main blog. This way we can regulate what non-members have access to.

2. Trial and Error. One consulting client I worked with loved the idea of a blog, but wasn’t sold on having the blog content being created and written by the organization. They wanted to use a blog as an outreach to their non-profit’s community as another tool of engagement. So, they started the blog, regulate it, but let their community members write the content by having the blog’s perspective be: Share Your Story. So, those wrestling with the non-profit’s illness shared their stories, could build online community and support one another.

  • Event blogging
  • Live Blogging
  • Topical Blogging

Now, if you are working with a federal or state agency, the notion of blogging ruffles some feathers. Here is a critical case to make: blogging has been done. and can be done. Here eare some helpful sites to note:

1. Public Officials’ Blogs. Just do a quick environmental scan of the presidential candidates’ websites! This site even offers a full listing of current blogs held by public officials across the United States.

2. Increasing Government Agencies’ Blogs. Now the list may be small, especially when considering just how many agencies exist, but it’s a starting point.

3. Government Blog Resource. A great outline of what blogs are, issues to consider, blog statistics, viewpoints, etc…a great resource!

4. Research Study.The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0,” a report by the IBM Center for the Business of Government which lists congressional, state, and local blogs.

(pic from http://www.masternewmedia.org)

March 3, 2008 at 3:24 am 1 comment

B2School Monday Minute: What is a ‘non-profit’

I recently overheard a conversation that got me thinking. Here’s a clip from the conversation:

Person 1: With the rise of a third sector, defined as the non-profit sector, how will this affect both the private and public sectors? And, what are the relationships between the three and what will that mean for the future?

Person 2: Well, what is non-profit? Non-profit means merely a tax break. You have two kinds of non profits. Those that are genuinely good and advocate for their cause efficiently and effectively, but then you have those that don’t. So, when you say non-profit, you’re merely talking about a tax break.

Needless to say, this conversation got me wondering, and I’m still pondering. What is a non-profit? And, say the word ‘non-profit’ is a brand….how do current consumers perceive this brand?

I feel these questions are important because whether you are a political organization, grassroots, religions, a charity, professional organization, foundation, community oriented, advocacy organization, special interest group, etc… how the broad term non-profit is ‘branded’ and perceived could have large implications for your success.

Graduate student from Case Western Reserve University, Kate Luckert, provides a great outline on the definition of non-profits and various examples, including why they may/are important.

About. com‘s definition tends to support Person 2’s definition of a nonprofit:

A nonprofit organization is one that has committed legally not to distribute any net earnings (profits) to individuals with control over it such as members, officers, directors, or trustees. It may pay them for services rendered and goods provided.

The European research Network states that there is no universally accepted definition to the term: non-profit sector. There is also no universally accepted social marketing definition. My view though is…. if the term non-profit lacks in credibility and reputation, the term social marketing should be used more often to describe certain effots.

Many organizations practice social marketing, but they don’t know it or realize it. Some people say that the term social marketing is too limiting, however, I see it more as an umbrella term backed with credible research.

Thoughts?

  • nonprofit.
  • social marketing.
  • private sector.
  • public sector.

How do they relate?

January 28, 2008 at 1:00 am 1 comment

A.c.r.a.n.y.m.s.i.a – A Crisis Rampant Among Numerous Yams Making Speeches In Associations

Acranyms run beyond the entertaining Cingular cellphone commercial, ‘my bff, Jill.’

They run rampant in every sector, no matter where you work. For example…

“I got an MPH after my B.A. from my NCAA accredited school. Now working towards my Ph.D., joined the AMA, volunteering with BBBS and the PHS. This weekend I’m attended the annual AMA dinner. I work UNICEF, but hope to switch to UNESCO.”

Does this not sound glaring close to… omg, like nbd, text-speak? I deem both these: acranymsia. This made up condition shows symptoms of broken up language, when short, choppy phrases carry long meanings. Side effects include weariness, fatigue, total work obsession or when you’re trapped in a glass case of emotion (thank you Ron Burgandy…).

I find this especially true when working in the non-profit and social marketing arena. Since social marketing and non-profit marketing often involve collaboration among NGOs, government clients and partners, education institutions and more. NGO itself is even an acranym!

So for fun. Try this brain teaser activity. At work on Monday when you find yourself embarking towards a case of acranymsia…

  1. Chuckle to yourself.
  2. Make the word acranym into an a.c.r.a.n.y.m. that may apply to your job.
  3. Share it with the rest of us to share the fun.

Here are some examples:
(Warning-This activity is harder than it seems and may cause prolonged amusement.)

a.c.r.a.n.y.m.s. – A crisis rampant among new your many sectors
a.c.r.a.n.y.m.s. – All chapters revolve around new young mindbending spells (Author)

January 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment


Meet Alexandra Rampy, aka SocialButterfly

I am a social marketing believer, blogger, practitioner, researcher and enthusiast. This site highlights the growing movement of social marketing. Learn more about social marketing and how to be your own socialbutterfly--> here.

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