Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Year’s Look at Government Communications


A message from NAGC President-Elect John Verrico

As we begin 2013, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all members of the National Association of Government Communicators – and those government communicators who are still pondering about joining us – a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Government communicators faced some significant challenges in 2012, dealing with everything from economic crises and the fiscal cliff to multiple natural disasters including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, devastating tornados, one of the 10 worst droughts of all time, and Superstorm Sandy. Government communicators were called upon to deal with public scrutiny on the questionable activities and statements by agency leaders and elected officials; as well as handling controversy surrounding socio-political issues such as same-sex marriage, unemployment and immigration laws. None of us will ever forget the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Colorado, a neighborhood watch in Florida, and others.

In addition, it was an election year, which brings a myriad of issues and challenges for communicators.

Our counterparts in other parts of the world had their hands full as well with market crashes in Europe and Asia; disease outbreaks in the Middle East; famine in Africa; earthquakes; typhoons; avalanches; political corruption scandals in China; turmoil in Egypt, Libya, and other nations; and ongoing wars around the globe.

Through it all, the work of government communicators was evident everywhere. Government spokespersons getting the word out to the media – the good news as well as the bad. Government speechwriters penning the history making words spoken by agency leaders. Government webmasters posting important information for the public and setting up special websites for emergencies. Government photographers and videographers capturing historic moments. Government writers, editors and graphic artists working together on the critical messaging and images that will stay with us in years to come. Meanwhile, in Southeastern Europe, government communicators were working together in a multinational forum to try change the image of their governments by becoming more open and transparent. As a matter of fact, there are now 56 nations around the globe that have joined the United Nations Open Government Partnership.

Pretty exciting stuff!

As your new President-elect, my goals for this new year are simple.  I will be working with NAGC President Glen Thomas and the rest of your Board of Directors to continue to grow the benefits of being a member of NAGC.

We have some exciting stuff coming down the pike, and Glen has already mentioned some of them in his highlights of the Board of Directors retreat.  You should look for new professional development resources; an Ask-an-Expert forum; increased interaction with other communications professionals, including our international counterparts; regional networking opportunities; programs for communications students; and a new series of webinars that will be FREE for NAGC members.

The first of these webinars is coming up on January 31 featuring Navy Rear Adm. Vic Beck who will share the challenges he faced and the lessons he learned in trying to conduct community relations activities and engage the public in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. Can’t wait to hear about what he experienced leading the efforts in both theaters!

As already noted, this webinar will be free for NAGC members (non-members will have to pay a fee, so for those of you that are still undecided about NAGC membership, now’s the time to come aboard!)

By the way, have you seen the agenda yet for this year’s NAGC Communications School? It will be posted soon. This is going to be a very exciting program with everything from media training to Rosie the Riveter, and a group of science fiction authors who will share their views on how we can overcome the “Big Brother” stigma of government. We’ll also have a session reporting on NAGC’s survey of government spokespersons about their relationship with the media! Check it out! You won’t want to miss this year’s Communications School.

And remember, NAGC members get a significant discount to attend! (are you sensing a theme here?)

 So, fellow government communicators, I wish you good luck as you go forth into the New Year and do more great things. Hopefully, things will be a little tamer this year. But looking at the flu season and budget issues right off the bat, 2013 is already promising to be a doozy!

Note: News links and events were chosen strictly at random and do not reflect any endorsement of opinion or preference for any source of information.

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