Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kerri Richardson named NAGC Communicator of the Year

The National Association of Government Communicators selected Kerri Richardson, Director of Communications at the Kentucky Governor’s Office, as the NAGC 2014 Communicator of the Year.

Richardson was selected for the award by a panel of NAGC judges for her ability to communicate Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid and launch their own, state-based Affordable Care Act Health Benefits Exchange – both highly complex and often contentious programs.  The panel was impressed by Richardson’s ability to communicate the Kentucky experience across a broad spectrum of audiences – from local to national, including major media. 

“NAGC is proud to honor the Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s Office Director of Communications Kerri Richardson,” said NAGC President Glen Thomas.  “She is a communicator who combined subject matter expertise with the right communication tools to gain statewide support for Kentucky’s Affordable Care Act implementation, and elevate Kentucky’s approach as a national model for states to use in implementing the Affordable Care Act.”

The NAGC Communicator of the Year Award is given annually to a government communicator who has helped instill public trust by effectively presenting accurate, timely and meaningful information, sometimes under exceptional circumstances.


Richardson will receive her award during the NAGC’s 2014 Awards Banquet, scheduled for June 12, at the National Press Club, Washington DC.  The Banquet coincides with the 2014 NAGC Communications School, scheduled for June 12-13, at the FHI 360 Conference Center, Washington DC.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last chance to participate in the NAGC Trends and Salary Survey!

How do your job responsibilities, pay and benefits compare with colleagues across the country? 

NAGC’s Trends and Salary Survey will help you answer these questions and seeks to provide an overview of government communications professions in 2014. 

Your participation in this online survey will provide critical data that will allow you to gauge and benchmark your professional and career status with your colleagues across the nation. 

We estimate it will take about 15 minutes to complete the survey. Please set aside 15 minutes at your earliest convenience and weigh in on the challenging issues facing federal, state and local government communicators today. 

The survey deadline has been extended to March 7, 2014.  Know a government communicator?  Pass the survey link on to them!

Click here to take the survey or go to 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Communications School Call for Speakers

NAGC announces its “Call for Speakers” for the 2014 Communications School, Government Communicators: Harnessing the Power to Inform and Engage Citizens, in Washington, DC June 12-13, 2014 (pre-conference session on June 11).  We are looking for half-day pre-conference training workshops, plenary speakers and 60-minute breakout session presentations.

Topic areas of interest:


National Association of Government Communicators 2014 Communications School logo*    Internal Communications within Agencies
*    The Move toward E-Government
*    Measuring ROI in Social Media Communications
*    Engaging the Public for Volunteer Service
*    Establishing a Social Media Toolkit
*    Managing Up to Engage Leadership
*    Plain Language
*    Strategic Communications
*    Communicating on Sensitive Topics
*    Contingency Plans & Preparing for Disaster
*    Emerging Technologies
*    508 Compliance
*    In-House Photography & Video Production
*    Advances in Social Media
*    And more...




If you have any questions feel free to contact us at info@nagconline.org.

Know a great speaker? If you have heard a great speaker on one or more of these topic areas of interest let us know at info@nagconline.org.  Please try and provide as much contact information as possible with your speaker recommendation.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Communicating Europe through the inter-agency approach:


How to navigate the swamps and paradoxes


 


a special guest post by Vincenzo Le Voci, Secretary-General of the European Union's Club of Venice


Europe’s great project was founded in the aftermath of two global conflicts to achieve one great ambition: a better Europe, enshrined with democratic rights and values to be enjoyed by every one of its citizens. To the surprise of nobody, it has proven to be a long process. It has required clear views, much good will and common sense, clever and experienced diplomacy, and the collective effort of very able and forward-looking statesmen.
 
Nor has it been easy. It has taken nearly three generations to grow from a group of six countries, struggling to shrug off the aftermath of horrible war, to a family of 28 Member States committed to consolidate friendship and cooperation. Each has its own peculiarities, culture, history and national pride. And each of them has a strong, individual role in delivering this extraordinary partnership which transcends old resentments, jealousies, and misunderstandings.
 
Europe’s great achievement is rightly described as “unity in diversity.”
 
Nevertheless, on the eve of a crucial moment - the European Parliamentary elections in May 2014 - Europe is enmeshed in a framework of paradoxes:
  • Europe hesitates to instil democratic values when consolidating solidarity and cohesion within its borders; it promotes them loudly outside EU borders; whilst looking on as people protest and die for those same European values in countries like Ukraine
  • Europe fosters sustainable recovery whilst national governments fail to sustain internal coalitions (even those with strong majorities)
 
In the field of communication,
  • Despite the imperative to communicate using local methods and values, Europe struggles to promote this approach and hesitates to decentralise communication management and planning
  • Europe wants to invest in innovative interactive tools, but often penalises the most effective traditional media methods - and overlooks important sectors of the audience
  • EU institutions fight to enhance and reinforce work in partnership, whilst behind the scenes they dismantle the most effective partnership models without any explanation and despite positive evaluations
  • Worst of all, Europe wants its public communicators to find common targets and speak to citizens about common growth and social welfare. However, nothing stems the “blame game” – in every country, the great enemy to national progress is Eurocrats and bureaucracy, but any credit for a welcome new law goes to national negotiators. There is never acknowledgement of the EU’s capacity to facilitate dialogue and negotiation.
There are other examples of this schizophrenic approach. Europe's founding fathers - generations of men of cultural talent like Albert Camus who fought for Europe's ideals - would turn in their grave. (Camus said: “The European civilization is first and foremost a pluralistic civilization. I want to say that it is the diversity of ideals, of opposites, contrasting values ​​and dialectic without synthesis. The dialectic of living in Europe is the one that does not lead to a kind of ideology at the same time totalitarian and orthodox.")
 
How can public communicators survive in this maëlström? It is difficult to describe how difficult it can be to seek synergies, to speak coherently to citizens in an atmosphere of global crisis, or how difficult it can be to convey clear messages from the political establishment to citizens.
 
Is it realistic to speak about an “inter-agency” formula for public communication in Europe? Is it conceivable to describe elaborate strategies for passing messages from national to regional to local level and the other way around? Is it possible to believe that while politicians in the grand European coalition don't talk to each other, public communicators can find a way to talk, to trust each other and share best practice, and maybe try to build trans-national projects?
 
Actually, everything can happen, provided that we can capitalize from successful examples, safeguard know-how and grant and treasure continuity. There is always a way to design communication localised to meet citizens’ expectations (“what’s in it for me?”) and to respect our wide variety of languages, and cultures. We must fight the prejudicial stereotype that everything bad flows from the centre of Europe, and all good comes from local governments.
 
Finding synergies in our "old continent" to "go local" with one voice remains the biggest challenge, not least because global crisis tends to drive us apart. Nevertheless, while this remains a situation that will not be improved easily or soon, it is of great note that several governments and EU institutions have developed a culture of inter-agency cooperation. They include the “Be relevant” approach in the Dutch government, the “MindLab” inter-ministerial platform set up in Denmark, the coordination put in place within the UK Government Communication services, the newly established German Ministry of Digital Infrastructure. These are just a few concrete examples of a determination to connect key elements of ministries and agencies. The ultimate goal remains to reach out to citizens, optimize public services and gain citizens’ trust. We need to use every platform available for broad and pro-active consultation, and strive to give everyone pride in playing an important part in the process. 
 
It is obvious that connections among national, regional and local authorities; and between them and civil society (all non governmental organisations); and between them and EU institutions and bodies and international organizations are crucial. But making these connections must be guided by a vision. A clear understanding of the mission, its values and objectives, allows well-motivated communicators to act with professionalism. This is why today’s efforts to invest in and promote communication training ethics and transparency will pay off in Europe and elsewhere.
 
In his Politics and the English Language, George Orwell highlighted that political communication can be “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  This danger remains; and so we should remain vigilant, while building a safer and better future. We must continue to learn from history, drawing on solid social-cultural roots and good principles.

It is was no accident that Altiero Spinelli, one of the founding fathers of Europe, believed that European integration needed to draw inspiration from the founding principles of the Constitution of the United States of America.


 
Vincenzo Le Voci has worked on information policy, communication strategies and transparency issues since 2001 and is currently coordinating the agenda of the EU Council’s Working Party on Information (Members States’ press and information officers). In 2011 he was appointed Secretary-General of the Club of Venice, the network of the communication directors from EU member states, candidate countries and institutions. Before joining the EU in 1992, he worked for NATO as Housing Manager for the United States Air Forces in Europe (1985-1991).
 
This guest blog post is part of NAGC's continuing partnership with our international counterparts. NAGC is dedicated to bringing together and learning from the best minds in government communications around the globe. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

The case for conferences -- your professional development

If you are a Government employee, chances are you’re a bit frustrated by recent restrictions on travel and attendance at conferences, workshops and other professional development opportunities.  No one argues the fact that spending needs to be constrained, but the easy-button, low-hanging fruit model of reductions is short sighted and damaging to a staff’s proficiency.

Across the board funding cuts and constraints on the types of events you can attend (much less have your organization pay for) have a chilling effect on professional development.  In the field of communications, it is a particularly hard as most communication shops are small and the ability to conduct quality, in-house training generally pales in comparison to what is offered externally. Requests for outside training tend to fall upon the deaf ears of the folks who often don’t understand our career field or who can’t understand the need to appropriately fund and resource our staffs when there are so many ‘essential’ elements competing for scarce dollars. 

Thanks to several scandalous adventures, conferences conjure images of frivolous and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. This is a shame, because the vast majority of events attended by government employees demonstrate the commitment to excellence and continuous improvement that are the hallmarks of the majority of those in government service.

As communicators, we know that deeds must align with words. So, if we’re not allowed to attend professional development events, how can we demonstrate their intrinsic value?

Recently, ASAE submitted testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as part of the hearing titled “Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government.”  ASAE’s testimony highlights the importance of training at conferences and other educational events for government employees.  ASAE thanks the association community for the great response they received from their call for comments.

If you are still interested in submitting comments on the value of meetings, the deadline is January 29. Comments can be submitted to laura_kilbride@hsgac.senate.gov.  Stories from associations around the country regarding the impediments to government attendance at conferences can be found on the Power of A Face-to-Face Meetings section of the website.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Survey: The state of digital communications in government

Dear Communicators,

Do you use digital media as a communications tool for internal or external audiences?
If so,  your participation in a survey on how government departments and agencies, throughout North America, are using digital communications.

The National Association of Government Communicators, FedInsider, and Adobe have partnered to conduct this survey, which will explore use, measurement, and perceptions of various types of digital communication in use by North American public sector professionals to reach citizens, stakeholders, and staff.

Your perspective is important, and we hope you’ll spend a few moments sharing your opinion on the state of digital communications in government. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete.

To participate in the survey click here or visit https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=o5PBpg3DFdAAfRRtvkfgUA#.  

The results of this survey will provide insight on how government communicators across North America are currently using digital communications and how those practices are projected to change in the future. 

These results will be delivered at a complimentary webinar in February 2014 as well as published at www.nagconline.org and www.fedinsider.com.  

Thank you very much for your insight,

- NAGC, FedInsider, and Adobe

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Call for judges for the 2014 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards

The competitions chairperson for the National Association of Government Communicators' Annual Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards, seeks your help in judging entries from throughout the United States submitted by communicators in local, state, federal and military organizations.  

Each year we receive more than 300 entries in 41 award categories. That kind of participation creates a high demand for judges who can evaluate the submissions and ultimately determine which products meet the high standards of the Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards.  


As a judge, you can select the category (or categories!) you wish to judge.  Got a colleague who wants to judge?  Sign them up because judging is a team effort! 

Don't let the number of categories or submissions intimidate you or give you the perception that there's a really big time commitment.  Depending on the category entries, judging generally takes one to three hours of each judges' time.  Our judges are afforded plenty of time from when they receive entries to the deadline for responses. Judging this year is likely to be done in March or April.

Serving as a judge is a great way to reinforce your reputation for expertise in a specific area of communications and bolster your resume.

Please take a moment to learn more at www.nagconline.org.  We may be past our Dec. 31, 2013, deadline, but we still need your help in judging this year's entries.