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