Saturday, May 29, 2010

Government 2.0 Expo - Part Two

The conclusion of the Government 2.0 Expo left me inspired and appreciating the strides that the government and industry have taken to create and implement better applications and policies that truly move government towards transparency as well as more collaboration among its constituents.

My lasting impression is that while many government agencies that "get it" have adopted social media policies to begin using these tools, the progress and innovation that has taken place has been due to a small minority (although rapidly growing number of government stakeholders) who rebelled against the status quo culture of their organization in order to implement something new.

This theme was repeated again and again in the keynote speeches, but nowhere was it quite as obvious than in the talk by Price Floyd, Special Advisor for International Communication, Department of Defense. In his talk, Floyd reiterated the need to embrace social media tools as a way to engage a broader audience. He spoke specifically about how the lack of policy should not dictate a lack of action. I strongly urge you to listen to the presentation he gave to get a sense of how the U.S. Department of Defense was able to go from one extreme (the banning of most social media sites) to a very open policy allowing soldiers, civilians and their families to communicate using these tools and the implementation of these tools in strategic communications plans.

Finally, it's not just in the defense world that social media tools are enhancing communications. In what was one of the most interesting keynote speeches, Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), spoke about the GSA's initiative towards collaboration and engagement with industry and government subject matter experts in order to facilitate better and smarter acquisitions. Any company interested in winning government contracts should view Davie's presentation to learn more about the BetterBuy program and the collaborative wiki that seeks to engage all stakeholders earlier in the procurement process.

I left the Gov 2.0 Expo with a sense that there will be a continued and accelerated adoption of more Web 2.0 technologies by government agencies in the months to come. What started out as pockets of innovation and adoption seem to be growing into a mass movement where the benefits of engagement, collaboration and transparency far outweigh the detractors' arguments against these ever-evolving technologies.

Want to see more presentations from this year's Gov 2.0 Expo? Check out O'Reilly Media's YouTube Channel.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Government 2.0 Expo - Part One

For the last two days, I have been attending the Government 2.0 Expo at the Washington Convention Center. It has been an inspiring event looking at the application of new technologies in the public sector. I'm only halfway into my second day, but I thought I would share with you some high-level observations of the conference so far.

The keynotes have been inspiring and I strongly encourage anyone who has any interest in how our government is using Web 2.0 technology to check out the conference videos. It is well worth your time.

My general observations:
  • Cloud Computing: The Federal Cloud Computing Initiative (FCCI) is behind the strong cloud application focus. The belief is cloud computing will allow government agencies to be more efficient and facilitate transparent, collaborative and participatory government. This is quite a departure from a few years ago. The government seems to be moving away from hardware discussions and to practical application and engagement tools to facilitate the Open Government Initiative. What's inspiring about this is that there is no shortage or seemingly no limits to the types of interactions and engagement that can be developed and used by all stakeholders to make accessing government data, services and programs easier and more user friendly.
  • Say 'YES' to Passion and Creativity: Sounds crazy, but the reality of it is that I've seen more case studies here about successful government projects that REALLY challenged if not disregarded the dry approach of government communications. THAT'S A GOOD THING. For example, the City of Bryan, TX, turned their annual water quality report into a calendar for citizens that not only included report highlights, but also the real government employees in charge of keeping the city's water system safe. It is a FABULOUS example of government communications being presented in a straightforward and fun manner while celebrating the employees who work hard everyday.
  • Help Wanted: It could take 12-18 months for a program to be implemented after a government contract award is given. What is fascinating are the examples of using contests and open development to drive government innovation. For example, The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Developers Initiative opened up five of the city's bus line route information to developers to see if they could build applications to inform the public. The results were astonishing. In just two months, more than a dozen applications had been built by developers including smartphone apps, SMS services, a phone system, and event an LED sign. The outcome was so amazing, that MassDOT is opening the data for all 180+ bus routes to continue innovation.
  • Another example of this call for innovation can be seen in the numerous public-private partnerships that are driving citizen engagement. A partnership with between NASA, JPL-Caltech and Microsoft drove the creation of the Be A Martian website. The purpose of the website is for the public to participate as citizen scientists to improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks, and assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet. Websites like this not only educate, but provide an opportunity for collaboration.
  • Adoption is going to be fast. Greater government adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and applications is within sight. The tipping point for almost all levels of government to actively participate and engage with the public is not far behind. There is a palpable energy driving the adoption of these tools and infinite possibilities to make our government, cities, towns and our world a better place with the proper development, execution and oversight of these tools. Now is the time to start to contribute and become involved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reaching Government Stakeholders with Digital Assets

While most companies seeking to target the government market have established specific federal sector websites, more companies are enhancing their social media presence and developing additional digital assets such as interactive widgets, quizzes, and videos to effectively reach government decision makers. Firewalls and IT policies, however, may not allow the government audience to see your latest tools to promote your services, products or events. It's a frustrating scenario for companies looking to engage with federal audiences.

Fortunately for federal sector marketers, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has made it simpler to understand what federal agencies can utilize to reach constituents online and therefore what government agencies should be able to see when it comes to online content. is an online resource for government employees that provides guidance and access to available solutions under the government's new cloud computing initiative. Listed are business, productivity, and social media applications that government agencies can use to carry out their own communication activities. What this means to companies looking to market to the government is that the social media services listed are most likely (but not always) the types of platforms that government decision makers will be able to view behind government firewalls. Companies looking to reach government audiences online should check to get an idea of what the government is using to reach constituents to effectively develop digital assets and tools for government stakeholders.

Not all government agencies may utilize or have need for all the resources listed on Each individual government agency must use these tools in accordance with its own policies, procedures and other federal mandates. Nonetheless, is a valuable information resource for federal sector marketers and communicators.

Interested in getting your company's services on Check out the Vendor FAQ to learn more.

UPDATE: On May 25, 2010, the GSA launched to provide federal agencies and the American public valuable information about the federal transition to cloud computing including available cloud services, examples of best practices, and updates from the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative. You can learn more about the site here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Be A Silo Smasher

It takes a lot to be an effective professional communicator. One of the early lessons I learned in public relations is that it helps to be a silo smasher.

Silo smashing can occur for clients (I've actually been in rooms where in-house sales, marketing and communication teams rarely, if ever meet except to discuss budget issues). It can also occur within a communications organization. If the only time teams meet is to discuss a specific project/initiative (i.e. new trade show booth) and not examine a holistic approach to marketing communications, they may miss an opportunity or new perspective to more effectively target and reach potential stakeholders.

Effective silo smashing is about facilitating relationships across organizational and departmental lines, encouraging internal collaboration, and fostering opportunities to effectively raise awareness of a product/service/idea and foster an organization's brand awareness. Being able to "walk through walls" to meet with and get other organizational leadership and knowledge experts to collaborate often yields better overall ROI for marketing and communication plans.

Professional communicators are in the best position to be the silo smashers in that communication and marketing development means taking a "big picture" approach to solving a client's business issue. Consequently, the expertise and information that is needed to build, implement, measure and sustain a successful communications campaign means reaching out past those whose responsibilities are confined to marketing and communications . Often professional communicators are welcomed (even if it is with a healthy dose of skepticism) when they reach out to other departments for information.

Communication plans that take place in a vacuum are less effective than those that are developed with input from relevant parties that have a different perspective on certain aspects of a product/service/program. Depending on the organization and the goals of the campaign, communicators may need to and should reach out to individuals in research and development, finance, design, and other subject matter experts to effectively communicate the value and develop a robust and effective marketing communications campaign to achieve an organization's goals. Having more information to understand the business case as well as the technical and creative case will only help to make the campaign more robust and unique. It will also help to expand the support and enthusiasm for marketing and communication efforts throughout the organization.

People often want to give their opinion and demonstrate their expertise when it comes to promoting and educating stakeholders about a product/service/idea. Learning how to smash internal client silos is a good step in enhancing client service while raising trust and creating a lasting partnership for many years to come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My First #PRBC post: "Communicating to Uncle Sam"

I am super excited that my first contributing post to PR Breakfast Club (#PRBC) is posted this morning: 'Communicating to Uncle Sam' is a very broad overview about what companies looking to market and raise awareness about their products and services to the federal sector should consider when seeking to reach a government audience. The post is in no way exhaustive or comprehensive, just a snapshot of how to approach and effectively communicate to the government stakeholders. I plan on writing future posts to expand upon this topic.

I would love your comments and feedback.

PRBC is a great resource with amazing PR professionals who contribute to the site everyday. I highly recommend signing up for the Daily Mailing List which will deliver each day's posts directly to your inbox. It's great!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy HAPPO Day! (Resources)

Happy HAPPO Day everyone!

Last year, I wrote a post called "Resources for Those Looking for A Job." I am pasting what I think are some of the best sources and including in this post some twitter hashtags I follow regarding the job market. While I know today is about extended networking and job listings not necessarily found on job sites, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite resources to help those who are continuing to search for a new opportunity.

Below I have listed some of my favorite job sites. Please feel free to suggest additional sites in the comments section of this post. This list is in no way comprehensive - just where I or others I know have had some success:

The Brad Traverse Group - A subscription site ($5/month) the Brad Traverse Group lists jobs in and around the DC area for those interested in public affairs, public relations, media and consulting. It's worth the $5 a month as many jobs are exclusively listed and will not appear anywhere else. - A job listing aggregator, will save your searches and let you know how many new jobs have been listed since your last search, saving you time. I really like Indeed because it is simple and efficient.

Ned's Job of the Week - Ned's list (available for view on the Web site) highlights jobs in defense, communications, and event marketing/promotion. While the job listings span the globe, there are quite a few in DC Metro Area. - An online publication for those on and around Capital Hill, lists on and off the Hill jobs for those interested. Some are political, some aren't. Definitely worth a look.

Social Media Jobs - For social media and digital strategy pros, Social Media Jobs lists opportunities nationwide.

Other job sites for PR Pros/Communicators:

O'Dwyer's PR Job Seekers and Employers

PRWeek Jobs

Ragan Communications (A great site for corporate and internal communicators) (Great for independent consultants. Also lists some short time and permanent positions)

Public Affairs Council (Government relations, associations, public affairs, policy and communications positions)

DC Public Affairs + Communications Jobs (Great blog that seems to catch and list hot jobs in the DC Area and beyond)

For those interested in nonprofits:

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, DC Chapter - You will have to register to gain access to its career center, but registration is free and it's a great way to network.


I follow the hashtag #prjobs on Twitter to see who is posting jobs. I strongly recommend this. Of course, I would also follow #HAPPO and the specific #HAPPO tag for your area (e.g. #HAPPODC). For entry level I would follow #EntryPR and for internships #PRIntern. You will be able to see individual agencies as well as independent pros, recruiters and job boards that post new opportunities.

Please feel free to send me your favorite job resources and links. Let's all try to help each other out today!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inaugural #HAPPO Hour

Kick-off #HAPPO week with the first-ever DC #HAPPO Hour tomorrow night at The District Chop House!

DCFlacks' February happy hour will join forces with Help a PR Pro Out (#HAPPO and for DC job-seekers #HAPPODC on Twitter) to connect PR job seekers with employers looking for top talent. Join us Tuesday, Feb 16 at 6:30 p.m. All you have to do is show up, then meet and chat career opportunities with your peers. Many thanks to Mike Schaffer (@mikeschaffer) and Amanda Miller Littlejohn (@amandamogul) for connecting DC Flacks to the DC-area HAPPO happenings. Learn more about #HAPPO here.

Register for #HAPPO Hour here.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

C'mon and Get #HAPPO!

Most of us all know someone who has lost their job or is searching for a new job in communications/marketing/social media/PR in this rough economy. Job searching is tough. Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking, anxiety- ridden process, and to top it all off, many professional communicators may be frustrated that they feel they aren't seeing or finding all the opportunities that may currently be available to them.

Most recruiters will tell you that the best way to find a job is to network. I will admit that I have gotten most of my jobs in communications by networking.

A little background:

I got my start in PR by getting an internship at a major agency in DC when I was still in college. This was shortly after the dot com bust and the only reason I was even considered for the internship is that a professor wrote me a great letter of recommendation to include with my application (this is was back when there were about 300 applications for one paid intern position - yes, paid! I can only imagine what the number is now.)

The same was true with my first job out of college. Another professor was able to recommend me to the CEO of a strategic communications firm who was looking for a new hire. Over the years, I've written many letters of recommendations, given verbal commendations, and provided insight and job leads for former interns, colleagues and friends who are actively looking for and pursuing other opportunities. Paying-it-forward has always paid off for me.

I have been very blessed and fortunate that my network has helped me time-and-time again with finding jobs. But what about those looking for a new position right now? How do they become a part of your extended network?

Solution: Help A PR Pro Out (HAPPO)! A brilliant idea of Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) andArik Hanson (@arikhanson), HAPPO is an effort to connect brilliant communicators with organizations looking for smart and savvy professionals! On Friday, February 19, from 10 am – 2 pm CT PR bloggers, agency leaders, and PR professionals from across the country will donate their time and talents to help fellow PR pros connect with employers as part of the first-ever “Help a PR Pro Out” day. Here's how you can get involved/help:
  • Are you a job seeker? Prepare a creative blog post, pitching yourself to prospective employers and share it via Twitter during the event on Feb. 19 using the hashtag#HAPPO. The HAPPO “market champions” (see below) will help by retweeting and connecting you with potential employers in your specific market (or markets you’re willing to relocated to).
  • Are you an employer looking for talent? Follow the hashtag #HAPPO on Friday, Feb. 19 and share your openings. Market champions will do their best to connect you with talent they think matches your specific needs.
  • Are you a PR blogger/Twitter addict? Yes? Then share the #HAPPO tweets with your personal networks and lend your support to those in need. Help your market champion identify job seekers and pair them with potential employers. This is your chance to make a difference!
Below is a list of HAPPO champions. Over the next week leading up to Feb. 19, these folks will be posting and tweeting about the event. Make sure to connect with them if you're a job seeker or an employer looking for PR talent.

#HAPPO Champions:

Other resources in Washington DC (#HAPPODC) include Debbie Friez (@dfriez), NicoleN(@NicolePRexec), Patrick Wixted (@pwixted), Ashley Settle (@amsettle), Meghan(@meggiepoo), Amanda (@amandamogul) and of course yours truly. Watch for us to tweet for information about the event and resources for job seekers during this coming week.

For more information about Help A PR Pro Out Day, visit

Monday, February 8, 2010

Google Ad is Gold

Last night I watched the Super Bowl while participating in #Brandbowl on Twitter. Lots of good exchange about the ads as they appeared and discussion over what resonated with the audience and what fell short (talk about a lack of social media presence in the ads - but I digress).

I know there are going to be a TON of posts today recapping the ads and discussing "the best and the worst," but I wanted to focus on the ad that I thought was the best: Google's "Parisian Love:"

Quite simply, this is storytelling at its best. The use of the popular search engine to demonstrate the role and evolution that search plays in our everyday lives is outstanding. Google showed its passion for their product by telling a love story. The ad works on so many levels as the overall story resonates and connects with the many popular and important searches (study abroad; meals; airline travel; and the 'how-to' searches) that we all have done and will continue to do throughout our lives. Choosing to air "Parisian Love" during the Super Bowl only enhanced its effectiveness and resonance as Valentine's Day quickly approaches.

I loved this ad. Google who traditionally shies away from traditional advertising nailed its point through use of a creative and straightforward execution that reflects and tells a story of what individuals do with Google search everyday.

Google is apparently producing a series of these types of commercials/videos that can be found at Google Search Stories on YouTube. I look forward to seeing other stories similar to "Parisian Love."

Great job, Google!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cool Conference - Free Culture X

I'm bummed I'm going to be missing this, but the Free Culture X conference will be taking place at George Washington University (my Alma mater - GO COLONIALS!) on February 13th and 14th. Admission is what you want to pay and there are some cool giveaways for those who make a donation.

About the Free Culture Conference 2010:

Students for Free Culture is convening the international free culture community
for two days of networking, learning and acting. Free Culture X, the 2010
conference of SFC, will take place on February 13th and 14th at George
Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The vision is to bring together student activists and free culture luminaries to discuss free software and open standards, open access scholarship, open educational resources, network neutrality, and university patent policy, especially in the context of higher education.

You can get information about the schedule and register by visiting here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seamless Integration

I love working on integrated accounts. You know - the accounts where it's a true collaborative effort that involves multiple departments, subject matter experts and parties to plan, execute and measure a truly extraordinary campaign for a client.

Working across departments, however, can present its own challenges. Frustration may arise internally because of a lack of understanding of each individual department's own processes (think Creative, Digital, Advertising, PR, and Accounts) and and how the timing required may impact the overall execution.

In my experience, here are some things that can be done to eliminate any internal confusion when working on an integrated account:
  • Understanding capabilities - Do you know how the creative team works to develop a concept for a print ad? What platform the digital team uses for Web development? Meeting to have a basic understanding of how each department works and understanding their processes will help to better manage internal and client expectations.
  • Bandwidth needs - How many people are going to be needed to work on the account? Developing a strategy with a few key people, sourcing it out to a larger team for brainstorming/research and then narrowing down project leads within departments should help effectively manage resources. This is a tightrope to walk:Too many cooks in the kitchen and nothing gets done; Too few, and the customer may leave because of poor service. Best to strike a balance assign roles early.
  • Set expectations - Who's doing what? Weekly reports? Billing? Day-to-day contact? Once an integrated team is established, it is imperative that roles be set for key deliverables so there is a clear understanding of what department and which individual in each department is responsible for doing what. Ending a meeting recapping who is taking the lead on certain initiatives (strategy or tactic) is key. It eliminates confusion and the assumptions made by other team members on who is in charge of doing a specific task.
  • Collaboration tools - Avoid 'death-by-e-mail.' Set-up an online workroom or portal that allows collaboration and the creation of vital campaign materials to appear to all working on the project. Even better are collaboration tools that allow for real-time discussion on documents, production schedules and meetings and send out "alerts" to relevant team members if there is a change or crucial update (think production schedule change or change in messaging) so the entire team is notified and the change is documented and updated across campaign materials.
  • Create efficiencies - There is no reason that someone or multiple people can't be on a laptop taking notes and updating documents while integrated teams are meeting. Having someone or everyone mobile on the account (to the degree resources allow) will save everyone on the team time and avoid the dreaded "I'll have to go back to my desk to send you that" or the "I'll type that up later" conundrum. Create efficiencies by doing things like note taking and document updating when the meeting is occurring. Work smarter, not harder.
  • More communication - I have found that integrated accounts require more communication across all departments. While individual meetings between various departments may be necessary to iron out details, having a standing time everyday where all departments can come together and exchange information/insight is key.
  • Same team - At the end of the day, everyone involved in an integrated account are on the same team. Respecting each other and understanding that we all are in this together and will help each other avoids any "us vs. them" or "they don't get it" mentality, which unfortunately, can develop if the effort is not made by all parties involved to really respect and understand each other's processes and work.
What other tips or insight do you have for working on integrated accounts? Do you have a favorite collaboration tool for your team? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social Media Week - NYC

Registration is now open for Social Media Week in NYC, which will take place February 1st - 5th. This is one of those events where I wish I could make it up to NYC for the week. First, it's an excellent venue to learn about how other companies and organizations are using social media and how they are addressing key concerns. Second, I would love to meet fellow social media/communication enthusiasts. Third, it's in NYC! (Gotta love NYC!)
The schedule of events is impressive and is the right mix between presentations, networking events and panels. For more info, visit here. To register click here. You can also follow @smwnyc on Twitter for updates.
If you plan to be in NYC the first week of February, check it out! If you can't make it up to NYC, further social media week conferences are also taking place in Berlin, London, San Francisco, São Paulo, and Toronto.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 is off to a fantastic start for you.
2009 ended wonderfully for me. I feel very blessed and grateful!
I wish you a phenomenal 2010 filled with fantastic, wonderful surprises and amazing accomplishments.
Happy New Year!