Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Early Submission Deadline Tomorrow (December 7)


2013 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition Call for Entries
Join NAGC and Save on Entries!


ONLY ONE DAY LEFT:     Early Submission Deadline: Dec. 7, 2012 

Be recognized! Enter your best work in the National Association of Government Communicator’s 2013 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. This annual international awards program recognizes superior government communication products and those who produce them.  Complete details and entry forms are available at www.nagconline.org.

This year there are 41 categories to choose from, including new and redefined categories for Mobile apps, Photographer’s Portfolio, Audio Communications, Social Media and more.  These enhancements have been made to reflect the changing ways in which we communicate with our audiences. Enter as many categories as you choose in the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. The number of opportunities to share your best work, innovation, creativity, and use of technology may surprise you.  One winner will be awarded Best in Show!

The following examples show the range of categories for entering your best work:
  • Publications
  • Media Relations
  • Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Video, Multimedia
  • Electronic Communications
  • Branding/Rebranding
  • Social Media

Join NAGC Now--Save on Entries
Please visit http://www.nagconline.org/Membership/ and join today for savings not only on your Blue Pencil & Gold Screen entries but on the NAGC Communications School in April.  For a full listing of memberhsip benefits, please check out the website.

Get More Involved—Volunteer to be a Judge!
In addition to entering the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition, you can also get involved by volunteering as a judge.  Judges will be assigned to categories in which they have not submitted an entry.  More information is available at http://www.nagconline.org/documents/NAGC2013AwardsJudgeApplication.doc.
 
NAGC: Good Communications … Good Government

Mark your calendar:
NAGC 2013 Communications School, April 16-19, 2013 Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, Arlington, VA

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NAGC Communications Director speaks to Russian delegates

By Derrick G. Silas (Деррик Дж. Сайлас), Communications Director for the National Association of GovernmentCommunicators and Web Communications Developer for the City of Enid (Oklahoma).

In October 2012, I had the privilege of speaking to Russian delegates who visited Enid, Oklahoma as part of the Open World Program. The program brings young political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, and other Eurasian countries to the United States for short-term professional trips. Established by Congress in 1999 on a bipartisan basis, the Open World program also aids Congress with interparliamentary and other legislative activities, and links Members of Congress with Main Street citizen-ambassadors engaged in public diplomacy. The  purpose of the program is to strengthen the democratic process in those countries.

Participants included: Yuriy Sergeyevich Kosyrev, deputy chairman of city construction and architecture of Kurchatov, Kursk Oblast, Russia; Aleksey Ivanovich Krupin, administration head of Palckhskiy provincial district administration, of Palekh, Ivanovo Oblast; Sergey Nikolayevich Lavokin, administration head of Brasovskiy provincial financial district; Sergey Viktorovich Melnikov, deputy mayor, Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast; Yelena Nikolayevna Volova, head of the Kaliningrad city government public relations department; and Pavel Vladimirovich Pavlov, an associate professor at Kursk State University. The government officials and communicators were accompanied by Yulia Willougby, interpreter for the group.

While in Enid, Oklahoma, the government officials toured the Enid Woodring Airport, Oklahoma State University, Enid Railroad Museum, AdvancePierre, Continental Resources, Pollard Farm, Vance Air Force Base, Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Museum, Oklahoma State Capitol, YWCA, Hope Outreach, Autry Technology, Northern Oklahoma College, and Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse.  The delegates attended the Enid Symphony Orchestra concert, Enid’s “Scare on the Square,” and various receptions, luncheons, and dinner events.

The delegation’s visit focused on accountable governance. I spoke to the delegation about the media and government, media’s role in politics, role of the government communicator, platforms for government and public relations, and building trust and transparency in government communications.

It was an honor to take part in this historic event. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to tell them about the organization we have in the United States for government communicators, the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC). I told them all about the NAGC and the 2013 Communications School in Washington, DC. Many of them were interested and may eventually attend a communications school to learn more about how government officials in the United States handle government communications to the public.

www.nagconline.org | http://governmentcommunicators.blogspot.com |http://twitter.com/nagc | http://youtube.com/nagconline
NAGC: Good Communication...Good Government

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hal Holbrook receives NAGC's Lifetime Achievement Award

 
Hal Holbrook receives NAGC's lifetime achievement award.
Marisa Ellison (left), Hal Holbrook (right)
After selecting the theme "Government Communicators: Telling America's Stories" for the 2012 Communications school, the 2011 NAGC Board of Directors wanted to include people who could tell stories as part of the after-hour programs. Peter Tork (the Monkees), Mike Foreman (an astronaut), and America's "Greatest" Storyteller, Mark Twain were selected. A  Lifetime Achievement Award for Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain and as the Greatest American Storyteller was created. Although Holbrook was not present at the 2012 Communications School, Marisa Ellison, Competitions Director for the NAGC, presented the award to him.

Hal Holbrook's performance, "Mark Twain as Himself" was done in Twain's boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri! The two hour display of experience and talent took the audience of about 400 back nearly a century at a time when Congress was solely inhabited by men."Twain" spoke several times about the insanity of democrats and republicans alike, and enjoyed sharing his thoughts about government in general throughout the performance.

Immediately following the performance, the Museum Curator had planned a very small reception where a select few had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Holbrook. Here Marisa presented Mr. Holbrook as Mark Twain the Lifetime Achievement Award for American Storytelling as presented by the NAGC.  Marisa reflected on her evening with Halbrook:
"First, I introduced myself and explained I was with the National Association of Government Communicators. He immediately got a gleam in his eye. Never missing an opportunity to share an opinion about government with an audience, Mr. Holbrook turned to the small crowd, smiled, and said, 'Isn't this interesting.' The crowd laughed. Mr. Holbrook was very gracious and appreciative of the award and asked that I forward a picture with detailed information about NAGC to his assistance, Joyce. We talked about the conference we had in June, and he apologized he was not able to attend as he was filming Promiseland, which is due out anytime."
What a grand experience! Congrats again to Mr. Holbrook as Mark Twain for receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for American Storytelling!


 



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Early Entry Deadline Approaches, President Elect Nominations

NAGC Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Early Entry Deadline December 7

The entries are beginning to roll in for the 2013 Blue Pencil Gold Screen awards and the early bird deadline of Friday, December 7 is approaching fast! The final entry deadline is January 11, but members entering by December 7 can save $41 for a single entry and $39 per entry on multiple submissions. Not a member of NAGC? No worries! Non-members can join NAGC when submitting their entries and pay the Blue Pencil/Gold Screen member entry fee(s).

You can download an entry form, review past winners, apply to be judge and get more info at http://nagconline.org/Awards/BlueGold.asp. Check out NAGC's YouTube channel to see last year's 1st place entry for documentary, a video produced by the U.S. Air Force's 3rd Combat Camera Squadron entitled "Honor Our Heroes: America's Wounded Warriors." You can also review the documentary category's second place winner, Port of Seattle's "Voices of the Port."

BPGS Pricing:
Entries postmarked on or before December 7, 2012
        Member: $131 per single entry, $115 each for 2+ entries

Non-member: $187 per entry
Postmarked between December 8, 2012 and January 11, 2013
        Member: $172 per single entry, $154 each for 2+ entries
Non-member: $224 per entry

 
NAGC Special Election for President Elect

NAGC also seeks nominations for the President-Elect, to serve out the vacancy created when Glen Thomas was sworn in as President on November 15, 2012. The President-Elect serves as the President's deputy and performs all duties of the President in the President's absence. He or she succeeds the President when the President's term expires. The President-Elect is responsible for collecting officer reports for Board of Directors meetings and assumes other activities assigned by the President. To qualify for President-Elect, a candidate must have previous service as a member of the Board of Directors. The President-Elect term will expire in the spring of 2014 during the 2014 Communications School when he or she assumes the office of the President.

The response deadline is November 30, 2012. Elections will be conducted online December 3-14, 2012.

For more information regarding leadership opportunities with NAGC, please contact Beth Armstrong, NAGC Executive Director,  armstrong@nagconline.org, 703-538-1787 ext 1780.

Monday, November 19, 2012

City, State, County, Tribal Government Communicators....this is for you!

by Marisa Ellison, Competitions Director for the National Association of Government Communicators and Customer Relations Manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation (Northeast District)
 

 This blog is not meant to slight our colleagues at the federal level.  Believe me...there are many opportunities for all government communicators to get involved in NAGC.  

This post, however, is meant for those of us who are focused on specific state, county tribal and city issues. Let's face it....these issues, while influenced by the federal government, can be different for those of us at other levels of government. Yet, they all stem from similar circumstance...taxes.  

I work for transportation, and we are totally underfunded, both at the federal level and the state level. Sound familiar? We, as government communicators, do not have direct influence on potential outcomes, yet it is our jobs to share the message of underfunding. Or maybe it's our message to share health information, without the comfort of enough funding. There are so many scenarios. My point is, we are all in this together. We can learn from each other. Share ideas, network, brainstorm. This is what NAGC can do for you. We are here to learn from each other...implement best practices...NOT reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  

So, if you're looking for ways to share, listen, learn and implement, NAGC is for you.  Check us out at www.nagconline.org. The annual Communications School is a great way to exchange ideas and the Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Awards recognize our industry's finest work.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NAGC President's Message

Hello fellow government communicators,

As many of you who have met me probably know, I have two young boys who provide my life with continual anecdotes. A few weeks ago, my son was acting a bit hyper while we were out for dinner, and I told him not to act crazy at the restaurant. His response, “that’s not crazy, dad. THIS is crazy.” And he put his napkin on his head and did a dance around the table. Sometimes, whether you are expecting it or not, life gives you a little bit extra.

Along those lines, I was inducted as President of NAGC yesterday morning. No, I did not have a napkin on my head, but this induction happened a little sooner than expected. Our previous President, Carrie Moritomo, is currently transitioning between government positions and stepped down from her role with NAGC.
 

First of all, I’d like to thank Carrie for her years of activity and the significant role she’s played in various board and committee positions. She’s really an asset to NAGC and I look forward to her continued activity in our organization.

I’d also like to thank all of you in the NAGC membership. It was a great honor to be elected President Elect last spring and I appreciate the confidence that you have entrusted in me. I am committed to making NAGC what YOU, as NAGC members, want and need it to be. As such, I want to keep an open line of communication with NAGC members. My e-mail is gthomas@mlgw.org, so please let me know if you have any questions or feedback about anything related to NAGC.

We’ll also be holding a special election for the office of President-Elect in the coming weeks, so please let us know if you have a nomination.

The NAGC board of directors has its annual board retreat set for December 17, and I’ll be sharing some additional information about that soon. If there’s anything you would like us to discuss, please let me know.

Networking has long been identified by NAGC members as the top benefit and we need to improve on our networking offerings. A few things we’re currently working on to that end:

  • Website improvements and enhancements
  • 2013 Communications School
  • 2013 Blue Pencil Gold Screen Awards
  • Increased communications with NAGC members
  • Series of education webinars
  • An “Ask an NAGC Expert” feature for members
  • Increasing networking with international government communicators
  • Member Value Program (MVP)
Thank you again for being a member of NAGC. Please feel free to contact me to share your thoughts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Submit a Winning Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Entry Teleconference Nov. 14

Be recognized! Enter your best work in the National Association of Government Communicator’s 2013 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. This annual international awards program recognizes superior government communication products and those who produce them.  Complete details and entry forms are available at www.nagconline.org.

Don’t Miss Winning Tips
Join past winners and judges for the “How to Submit a Winning Entry” teleconference on Wednesday,
November 14, 2 pm ET.  Visit www.nagconline.org for further details.

This year there are 41 categories to choose from, including new and redefined categories for Mobile apps, Photographer’s Portfolio, Audio Communications, Social Media and more.  These enhancements have been made to reflect the changing ways in which we communicate with our audiences. Enter as many categories as you choose in the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. The number of opportunities to share your best work, innovation, creativity, and use of technology may surprise you.  One winner will be awarded Best in Show!

The following examples show the range of categories for entering your best work:
  • Publications
  • Media Relations
  • Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Video, Multimedia
  • Electronic Communications
  • Branding/Rebranding
  • Social Media


Get More Involved—Volunteer to be a Judge!
In addition to entering the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition, you can also get involved by volunteering as a judge.  Judges will be assigned to categories in which they have not submitted an entry.  More information is available at http://www.nagconline.org/documents/NAGC2013AwardsJudgeApplication.doc.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sit In the BIG Chair. . . Be a Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Judge!

by Marisa Ellison, Competitions Director for the National Association of Government Communicators and Customer Relations Manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation (Northeast District)

If you're like me, when you sign up for something, you're in it for the long haul.  You don't give 50% or 75%...you give 110%.  As communicators and public relations professionals, this is the "Type A" coming out in us!  

Since I had experience judging statewide health care awards, volunteering to judge the coveted Blue Pencil/Gold Screen (BP/GS) awards was natural for me.  Now, I'm the chair of the entire awards ceremony!  However, even if you have never judged anything on any scale, even a pet show, we will help you be successful and the rewards are phenomenal!

Think of all the ideas you can steal..ahem...I mean...borrow...or use...or plaguerize.  I use the philosophy "copying is the best form of flattery."  Then, there is just the plain glory of being a recognized as a judge.

Okay...maybe your name isn't in neon lights.  Yet, you have the opportunity to influence and teach.  Isn't that what we love?  We want someone to learn from us.  

So, my question for you is this: Do you have a talent you would like to share to help others learn?  If so, please consider judging the BP/GS awards.  And, to get a taste for what it involves, join us for the "How to Submit A Winning Entry" teleconference on Wednesday, November 14 at 2 p.m. EST, 1 p.m. CST, 11 a.m., PST.  


TELECONFERENCE DETAILS


Free Teleconference: "How to Win a Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award"
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST, 11 a.m. PST)
Be sure to take advantage of the FREE teleconference on “How to Win a Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award.” You’ll hear former Blue Pencil & Gold Screen winners provide hot tips and personal secrets to winning Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards. Join judges Debbie Kulik, KDSC/RTI and Jason McDonald, CDC, both past winners on the teleconference taking place at 2 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.
Dial In Information:
  • Toll free access: 1-877-366-0711
  • Canadian toll free access: 1-866-627-1651
  • International toll access: 1-302-709-8446
  • Participant passcode: 82194997#

Go to http://www.nagconline.org/Awards/BlueGold.asp#Teleconference14Nov2012 for more information.

Friday, October 26, 2012

2013 NAGC Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Call for Entries

Be recognized! Enter your best work in the National Association of Government Communicator’s 2013 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. This annual international awards program recognizes superior government communication products and those who produce them.  Complete details and entry forms are available at www.nagconline.org.

This year there are 41 categories to choose from, including new and redefined categories for Mobile apps, Photographer’s Portfolio, Audio Communications, Social Media and more.  These enhancements have been made to reflect the changing ways in which we communicate with our audiences. Enter as many categories as you choose in the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition. The number of opportunities to share your best work, innovation, creativity and use of technology may surprise you.  One winner will be awarded Best in Show!

The following examples show the range of categories for entering your best work:
  • Publications
  • Media Relations
  • Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Video, Multimedia
  • Electronic Communications
  • Branding/Rebranding
  • Social Media

How to Submit a Winning Entry Teleconference
Winning Tips
Join past winners and judges for the “How to Submit a Winning Entry” teleconference on Wednesday,
November 14, 2 pm ET.  Visit www.nagconline.org for further details.

Get More Involved—Volunteer to be a Judge!
In addition to entering the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition, you can also get involved by volunteering as a judge.  Judges will be assigned to categories in which they have not submitted an entry.  More information is available at http://bit.ly/SeddCG

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cleaning up our language – a never-ending campaign


Submitted by Elaine Blackman, NAGC member and Writer/Editor for the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services

Only a few generations ago, many causes and movements set out to clean up the environment. Do any of you remember the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign? Over time, most of us have learned the habit of throwing trash in a trashcan—not on the street. We changed our behavior thanks to research, education and laws, and creative messaging about pollution, litter, and pride in our surroundings.

It may be hard to believe that campaigns to end “gobbledygook”—bureaucratese, difficult-to-understand language—have been underway for just as long, if not longer. In 1962, a government Clear Communication Newsletter advised workers to leave out “every effort will be made,” “experience has indicated that,” and “this is to inform you” from their writings.

Yet, despite research, education and laws to inspire plain language in government and business writing, many long-timers still set an example to newcomers that complex jargon is OK. By not writing in a clear, concise and organized manner in our emails, letters and web media, we continue to cause a different kind of litter—confusion and inefficiency.

The same reasoning applies to speeches; we want to find shorter, stronger words to engage our audience. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did when his speechwriter gave him this weak sentence: “We are endeavoring to construct a more inclusive society.” FDR made the message more powerful: “We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.”

Not easy being green

We know that changing environmental habits isn’t easy; neither is changing writing habits. However, the good news is we are improving. On July 19, the Center for Plain Language issued the Plain Language Report Card for 12 federal agencies on their progress in meeting the Plain Writing Act of 2010. Who got an A? USDA! Not too shabby for HHS though; we got a C in “basic Act requirements,” such as having a plain language official, an implementation plan, and training for employees; and a B for a variety of “supporting activities” in the “spirit” of the Act.

The same organization announced the 2012 Clearmark Plain Language Award, in June, given to the best plain language documents and websites in both public and private sectors. HHS claimed several wins, for the FLU.gov website and several “before and after” forms and publications, to name a few. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Outdoor Air Quality site; they did extensive user testing.

In my agency in HHS, we help state, tribal and local programs deliver quality child support services to parents and families, so the material we post daily on our new CSS website must display plain language and design. We have a long way to go to convert the older documents on the website into plain language. On the other hand, we’ve begun to train our staff in plain language skills. In our training, we edit real in-house writing samples. We also learn about a readability tool in Microsoft that gives the grade level of our document and a readability score from 0 to 100, with 65 considered the plain language target—and it’s not an easy reach.  The score for this article: 55.1, with 0% passive sentences, another benchmark for easy reading.

Will two-hour training suffice to change old writing habits? For most, the answer is no. Sure, some are taking plain language seriously; others, however, seem to think that plain language means “dumbing down” our writing to appease a few. Nothing could be further from the truth—plain language means “smartening up” our language to engage all!

So, it will take a lot of practice and willingness for staff to write for the web so that readers can easily scan. We need to use active voice and short paragraphs, omit long lead-ins and wordiness, and stick to certain formats—always keeping our wide-ranging audience in mind. And we need to give staff evidence that plain language benefits our customers and our program.

What’s in it for me?

The way we communicate is like the old adage “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” If we want to receive clear and concise messages that we can understand the first time we read them, then we should write to others that way. Plain language benefits readers and writers. “It doesn’t just cut reading time, it also saves you and your readers time and money,” according to the website PlainLanguage.gov, which cites examples and offers the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.  

If you would like more references to share with your coworkers, look at a brief slide presentation by the Federal Communicators Network, Introduction to Plain Language. You’re a member of the National Association of Government Communicators, right? It offers an annual Communications School and cosponsors training events around the country for members and nonmembers from every level of government. One more: ewriteonline.com is loaded with tips for online communication. In fact, search the Internet for “plain language,” and you will find a movement filled with examples for every field.

When we put internal communication first, employees will understand the culture and necessity of plain language. Then, we will go further to enhance our program brand and external communications. Moreover, it will be obvious to anyone who visits our website that we treat everyone as we would like to be treated, using plain, simple and culturally appropriate language. We want our messages and our conversations to be as clear and concise as we can make them.

Which sentence sounds better to you?

After a thorough review of your report, this office approves the recommendations.

Or ...

            We approve your recommendations.

(Do you approve of mine?)

P.S. Please let NAGC know how your agency is promoting a culture of plain language and clear communication so we can share your experience with others. The 2013 NAGC Communications School will feature a session on plain language writing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Keeping the Sanity During Election Time

I'm employed by local government, so the presidential election does not have a direct effect on my organization and daily duties. However, I'm interested in hearing from our federal communicators on how they deal with it. How do you keep everyone's focus, and what steps do you take to prepare for possible change of presidents? What kind of changes do you prepare for?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Looking for a few good speakers

by John Verrico, NAGC Director of Professional Development
 
NAGC recently put out a Call for Speakers for the 2013 Communications School. Even at this early stage of planning, the School program is shaping up to be amazing. The theme for the 2013 School is “Government Communicators: Engaging Citizens in Democracy” and promises to touch on some of the most significant issues we face.
As government communicators, we are focused on helping our agencies reach our widely varied publics. We all know that geographic dispersion, cultural differences, socio-economic disparities, language barriers, and accessibility issues make it more challenging to reach some segments of the public than others. We also know that people only tend to pay attention to sources of information that they trust. In most cases, government agencies are not necessarily considered a trusted source, adding to the many communication barriers we face.
This will be a major focus of the 2013 Communications School – reaching these varied segments of our publics. And not only reaching them, but truly engaging them to interact with us.

The program planning committee – a wonderful volunteer group of our peers from among the NAGC membership across the country – has envisioned that the School’s program be divided into three primary tracks: Outreach, Engagement and Professional Development.
·         Among other topics, the Outreach track would feature sessions on reaching underserved audiences, understanding generational and cultural differences, and making government information accessible.

·         In the Engagement track, we’re working to coordinate sessions on leveraging community resources, enabling grass roots communications, dealing with environmental justice issues, and interacting with our publics online.

·         The Professional Development track will focus on things like advancing your government career, surviving the approval chain, explaining negative press to your boss, leading change, and a variety of specific skills-focused sessions.
Since these topics are not unique to government communicators here in the United States, we’re reaching out to our international partners to share what they are doing. We hope to have some participants from the newly formed South Eastern European Government Communicators forum who are working to establish open and transparent government in that region. We’re also looking at a session proposal from our neighbors in Canada about a successful video campaign.

So, do you know any good speakers to join this program? Have you encountered any experts in outreach or engagement that you’d recommend? Do you have a success story, best practice or a nightmare of a case study that you’d like to share?

Visit the NAGC Website to download a Speaker Application. Pass around the Call for Speakers to coworkers and professional affiliates.  

We hope to see you at the 2013 NAGC Communications School at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, Arlington, VA, April 16-19, 2013.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

South Eastern Europe is taking Open Government seriously

by John Verrico, Director of Professional Development for the National Association of Government Communicators

  “The times in which public policies were created away from the public eye remain far behind us,” said Prime Minister Igor Lukšić of Montenegro at the opening of the first South Eastern European Communicators (SEECOM) conference on Friday, September 14. “Nowadays, government transparency, accountability and public dialogue are the key elements of good governance. They are also prerequisites for successful communication,” he said.

When the Prime Minister opened the SEECOM conference in Budva, Montenegro with these remarks, the energy level and enthusiasm of the attendees was evident in their mutual cordiality, courtesy and eagerness. You would never know the 60 or so participants were from nearly a dozen different nations.

That positive energy and camaraderie persisted throughout the conference. Unlike here in the United States, where it is common for the last day of a conference to be lightly attended as people begin early departures for home, the final event was just as full and the energy as high they were at the opening. 

On Sunday morning, September 16, representatives from the governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia came together to adopt the Declaration of the Founding Values of the South Eastern European Government Communications Forum, heretofore to be known as the Budva Declaration. In only two pages, this amazing document sums of the “duty of government communicators to “provide the public with comprehensive, timely and accurate information about government policies and projects.”

The participating nations committed to the principles of transparency and openness; inclusiveness and participation; integrity, impartiality and public interest; internal communications; professional exchange and cooperation; and an innovative approach to establishing open government policies and programs.

The people of this region are enthusiastic, highly energetic and committed to overcoming any obstacles put in their way to doing open government right.

The government communicators were joined by representatives from Cyprus, Estonia, the United Nations, the United States Embassy to Montenegro, the Club of Venice, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Commission, the U. S. National Association of Government Communicators and the global political policy foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Prime Minister Lukšić noted, “It is no longer possible to dictate communication. Communication is now about getting involved in conversation, about dialogue with individuals and the networks they build that can increasingly act on stage directly, unmediated by the institutions and traditional channels of communication. This challenge is big and one that will make us more realistic and better representatives of our citizens.”

You can listen to and download the Prime Minister’s speech, listen to all of the keynote speeches (including mine) and view some photos from the event on the Government of Montenegro Opening of the SEECOM conference

I was tremendously honored to take part in this historic event and look forward to NAGC’s continued partnership with our counterparts in this region. I believe many of them will be joining our organization, reaching out to our members to share ideas and best practices, and hopefully taking part in our 2013 Communications School in Washington, DC next April.

NAGC: Good Communication...Good Government

Friday, September 14, 2012

Outsourcing Government Communications?

A recent news story in The Economist discussed outsourcing and privatizing of government communications, and used Sandy Springs, GA as an example of a government entity that had outsourced many functions. Suzanne Horsley, an assistant professor in the University of Alabama's Department of Advertising and Public Relations, was intrigued by the article, and now she's looking for opinions from government communicators for a possible study. 

Do you believe this a trend among local governments, or do you think the case in Sandy Springs is unique? 

You can reach Professor Horsley at horsley@apr.ua.edu, on Twitter @profhorsley or simply share here. 

What are your thoughts on the implications of outsourcing for the organization and the public it serves? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

NAGC's Thomas to Discuss Mobile Technology at GovLoop's Online Innovator's Summit


NAGC President-Elect Glen Thomas will take part in GovLoop's free Government Innovator's Online Summit, which will take place Thursday, Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. The summit will cover a number of topics, including social media, project management, career advancement in IT, and creating a website. During a session entitled Mobile Government: Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond, Thomas and Hildreth England of the State of Texas will discuss how their respective organizations are using mobile technology to connect with the public. 

Full session description:
Mobile Government: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
In 2012, the number of smartphone users will reach 106.7 million with 94% of these users accessing the mobile internet.  With citizens and government employees increasingly adopting multiple mobile device and having increased expectations on mobile services, how do agencies adapt?

In this wide-ranging training, we will explore a number of mobile topics from:



  • Optimizing your content for a mobile audience
  • Making the decision to use a mobile app vs. a mobile website (or both)
  • Managing content across multiple platforms -- from Android, Windows, Apple, and Blackberry
  • Launching a “Bring Your Own Device” strategy based on our research from a recent GovLoop  BYOD survey and guide


RSVP at http://bit.ly/QlZ9VG

Thursday, September 6, 2012

South Eastern Europe is Making Government Communications History


By John Verrico, Director of Professional Development for NAGC.

On September 16, government communicators in the nation states of South Eastern Europe will be signing an historic declaration of commitment to the principles of open government. The signing will be the culmination of the first ever South Eastern European Government CommunicationConference (SEECOM) in Budva, Montenegro.

Led by the nation of Montenegro, SEECOM will bring together the region’s government communications professionals for training, discussion of best practices, and to establish a network for collaboration and information sharing. 

Similar in concept and structure to our own National Association of Government Communicators’ annual Communications School, SEECOM has an aggressive agenda, tackling topics such as media relations, internal communications, online communications, and engaging the public. 

The event is being organized in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro and the German political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), with support from the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro. 

A few months ago, I had the honor of meeting one of the brilliant minds behind the concept of the conference, when NAGC entertained a delegation from Montenegro visiting the United States under the State Department’s international leader development program. Vuk Vujnovic, head of International Public Relations for the Government of Montenegro, led the delegation in late January and we had a terrific discussion about the role of a government communicator, especially in how it relates to achieving open government.  

Here in the United States, we’ve been working toward the ideal of open government to achieve transparency of government to our citizens. Open government is much more than just buzz words. It takes an incredible amount of effort, leadership and a changing of old mindsets. 

In September 2011, Open Government became an international initiative when eight founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) each endorsed an Open Government Declaration. Now, less than a year since the efforts began, nearly 60 nations around the world have committed to implementing the tenets of open government. 

Known as the Open Government Partnership, participating nations must commit to fiscal transparency, open access to government information, disclosure of information about public officials, and citizen engagement.  This is no small undertaking. Countries seeking membership in the OGP must endorse a Declaration of Open Government and produce a country action plan to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and employ new technologies to strengthen governance.  

Professional government communicators in South Eastern Europe understand that to be successful, they should maintain regular and close interaction with their peers from the region and around the world. Next week’s SEECOM conference is going a long way to establish and enhance those connections. 

NAGC will be working to assist the SEECOM forum in their progress and learning from them as well. Together we can build a worldwide network of communication professionals enabling open government best practices, and joining forces to tackle the challenges we’ll face together. 

This is an exciting time to be a government communicator!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Call for Speakers: 2013 NAGC Communications School


Government Communicators: Engaging Citizens in Democracy

NAGC announces its “Call for Speakers” for the 2013 Communications School, Government Communicators: Engaging Citizens in Democracy, in Arlington, VA, April 16-19, 2013.  We are looking for half-day pre-conference training workshops and 60-minute breakout session presentations. Track sessions are in areas of Outreach, Engagement, and Professional Development.

Topic areas of interest:
  • Personal Communications in the Digital Age
  • Transparency and Openness in Government
  • Reaching Underserved Audiences
  • Leveraging Community Resources
  • Enabling Grass Roots Communications
  • Citizen Engagement
  • Environmental Justice
  • Working with Media
  • Responding to Negative Press
  • Strategic Communications
  • Communicating on Sensitive Topics
  • Understanding Generational Differences
  • Understanding Cultural Differences
  • Contingency Plans & Preparing for Disaster
  • Emerging Technologies
  • 508 Compliance
  • Old School Communications Tools
  • Leading Change
  • Advances in Social Media
  • In-House Photography & Video Production
  • Advancing Your Government Career
  • Surviving the Approval Chain
Download the abstract submission application at www.nagconline.org. Submit your presentation abstract by 5pm ET on October 15, 2012.

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.

NAGC: Good Communications … Good Government