Wednesday, October 24, 2012

75% Sold Out, A Few Free Tickets Remain: "Measuring Communication - Simple Approaches That Can Change Your Image"

This event will be held Nov. 9, from 12-1 p.m. EST, via webinar. Click here to register. Note: Limited to government employees and contractors. Access information will be provided a week in advance.
About This Event
“Measuring communication” seems like an abstract concept to many. Jeff will offer a framework for how to think about measurement in your everyday communication planning. He’ll demonstrate:
  • How to ask questions that frame what to measure.
  • How discussions of measurement can produce better messages.
  • Examples of what to measure and how to measure.
  • How measuring communication can change leaders’ view of your role.
The session will include examples and time for Q&A.

About Our Speaker
Jeffrey Brooke has managed internal communication and change-related programs for over 20 years.
He is a principal consultant with the MITRE Corporation, where he advises government executives in transformational communication and organizational change management. MITRE is a large not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers for sponsoring federal agencies.
Before joining MITRE, Jeff held various internal communication roles with the IRS, Customs and Border Protection, and most recently the Government Printing Office where he was director of internal communication. While in government, Jeff co-founded and chaired the Federal Communicators Network which shares communication best practices across Federal communication offices.
He currently serves on the board of the International Association of Business Communicators/DC Metro and is a senior lecturer in the corporate and organizational communications master’s degree program at Northeastern University in Boston.

Public Information Officers: What's It Like To Deal With Journalists?

Posted by: Dannielle Blumenthal, FCN Chair

Currently, the Society of Professional Journalists is undertaking a study on the subject of how public information officers in government agencies perceive their interactions with journalists. It is being conducted by Carolyn Carlson of Kennesaw State University, a former SPJ president.

Part of the study consists of a short questionnaire prepared in conjunction with the NAGC. It will ask you about your experiences dealing with journalists. Your participation is completely voluntary and you can opt out of any question that you do not wish to answer. All of your responses will be kept confidential and all responses will be aggregated to provide a snapshot.

It is estimated that the survey will take no more than 10 minutes to finish. The deadline to submit it is Oct. 31, 2012. Click here to access.

Questions may be directed to Carolyn Carlson. For questions about your rights as a participant in this study, contact the Kennesaw State University IRB.

We thank John Verrico, a member of both the FCN and NAGC Board of Directors, for sharing this opportunity.

FEW HAPPY HOUR! Help Celebrate The 2nd Anniversary of The Cherry Blossom Chapter In DC

"Federally Employed Women (FEW) is a private membership organization working as an advocacy group to improve the status of women employed by the federal government and by the District of Columbia government."

Please join Federally Employed Women:

  • When? Thursday, October 25
  • What time? 5-9 p.m.
  • Why? To celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Chapter
  • Where? 21st Amendment Grill at the Holiday Inn Express, 500 C Street SW (Metro: L'Enfant)
You can learn more about FEW's metro DC chapters here or visit their website to find a local chapter near you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

At the NAGC Blog: "Cleaning up our language – a never-ending campaign"

"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."

Read more about plain language at the National Association of Government Communicators blog.

Posted by Dannielle Blumenthal, Chair, FCN

FCN News: Happy New Year?

The following was written by Kathleen Taylor, Editor, FCN News and is reprinted from our newsletter, FCN News, Nov./Dec. 2012

The beginning of the new fiscal year goes unnoticed by most federal employees.  Having moved to the administrative side of the house, I can tell you October is a welcome relief from the frenzied atmosphere found in most admin offices at the end of September.  But this year the expected wave of relief was replaced by what can only be described as a sigh of resignation.  I asked the employees in my office why the change, and they all said they were discouraged because no one seemed to notice, or appreciate, the work they do.

Their comments reminded me of the importance of internal communications.  Until now, I always equated internal communications as a means of informing employees about changes coming down the pike from headquarters, or other agency news that would, or could, “affect” them.  Clearly my office wasn’t doing a very good job of letting non-admin employees know about all of the good work the admin staff does. In fact, the more efficient an admin office is, the less likely it will be noticed.  I suspect this is true of other offices as well.   

My FY New Year’s resolution is to use the skills I have acquired in the communications field to create an internal communications plan for my admin office.  I encourage each of you to look inside of your agencies to find those offices that are doing great things, but getting little or no recognition.  In today’s climate of government bashing, showing appreciation to the hard work being done within your agency will help boost morale, and you might even get a story for your external communications plan as well.  For those of you that already have great internal communications program, use FCN’s web resources to share your best practices with others.  Start a discussion on LinkedIn, write a guest blog, or share your expertise by conducting a webinar. Whatever you decide to do, get involved – that’s what good communications is all about.        

Regards to all,
Kathleen Taylor, Editor
The Federal Communicators Network
(Received this from a friend? Sign up for your own copy)

Featured Event: FCN Lunch & Learn  

Measuring Communication – Simple Approaches That Can Change Your Image

With Jeff Brooke
Friday, November 9, 2012
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Eastern
Free; Limited to Government Employees & Contractors; Click here to register

Measuring communication can be tricky.  Jeff Brooke will help you get the information you need to accurately measure your communications program.  A well-defined program can assist leadership in understanding the critical role communications plays in your agency, and how communications professionals are an integral part of his or her management team.  Through the use of examples you will learn how to frame questions that capture what you want to measure, and how discussions of measurement can produce 
better messages. 

Dial in/Webinars


Facebook Timeline Tactics to Boost Engagement & Followers
Thursday, October 18, 2012
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET 

Cost: $359
·  Develop a strategy to produce original, visual content to add to your Timeline
·  Tell your brand’s story visually
·  Use Instagram to feed images to your Timeline profile
·  Determine which kinds of posts are most likely to increase engagement with your audience on 
·  Use Timeline to leverage your organization's heritage and share milestone stories
·  Pin posts to drive traffic 
·  Highlight content to prevent it from being pushed down on your page
·  Determine how Timeline affects the news feed
For more information or to register:

Face-to-Face Training

Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals
Media Relations 101
October 18, 2012
Washington, DC
Cost – $495

This course is designed to help newer public or government affairs professionals. Our media training explores essential skills to help maximize your message in the Washington media environment. Instruction includes hands-on exercises, an overview of key media players, basic message development, and effective press release and media kit preparation.
For more information, or to register:


Media Relations – Next Practices Conference
November 30, 2012
Washington DC
Conference early bird registration - $795

Join us on Nov. 30 for PR News' Media Relations Next Practices Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and get the latest best practices on resource allocation for your media relations initiatives, media training, message crafting, crisis management and measurement, as well as tips on using popular and emerging social media networks to engage with members of the media. You'll get checklists, case studies and practical tips from media relations and digital PR experts. Even more important, you'll walk away with a greater understanding of how media relations best practices now encompass brand storytelling, audience engagement and real-time crisis management.
For more information or to register:

Social Media Boot Camp for Corporate Communicators
October 26 in Austin, TX
November 16 in Chicago, IL
Cost - $745

·  Use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to reach reporters who ignore your traditional pitches
·  Launch an internal social network for employees for less than a few thousand dollars
·  Strategies for responding to the "" phenomenon
·  Build credibility between leadership and employees with a CEO blog
For more information, or to register:
The Advanced Learning Institute (A.L.I.) Presents
Telework in Government Training:
Meeting Telework Requirements While Unleashing Employee Productivity,
Cutting Costs And Adding Value
November 6-9, 2012
Washington, DC

For more information:
Call: (888) 362-7400 -or- (773) 695-9400
Mention “FCN” to receive a $200 registration discount!

Social Media for Government Communications Training:
How To Engage Citizens & Increase Transparency Using The Latest Web 2.0 Technologies
December 10-12, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA

For more information:
Call: (888) 362-7400 -or- (773) 695-9400
Mention “FCN” to receive a $200 registration discount!
Strategic Internal Communications in Government Training:
How To Use Social Media & Traditional Communications To Engage Employees, Drive Performance & Add Value
January 28-31, 2013 in Washington, DC

For more information:
Call: (888) 362-7400 -or- (773) 695-9400
Mention “SUPPORTER” to receive a $200 registration discount


Udemy online courses


Mark your calendars –
2013 NAGC Communications School
Government Communicators: Engaging Citizens in Democracy 
April 16 – 19, 2013
Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel
Arlington, VA

The NAGC Communications School is the only event of its kind that provides invaluable networking opportunities and practical educational sessions to help government communicators increase their skills.

2013 Call for speakers – Deadline for submitting applications is October 15, 2012, 5:00 pm Eastern

Reminder: Make sure to subscribe to FCN News today! 
It's free and open to the public, and if you're a federal employee, this automatically makes you a member.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Refreshing Enthusiasm

By John Verrico, Director of Professional Development for the National Association of Government Communicators & Member, FCN Board of Directors.

Imagine bringing together representatives from multiple divisions in your organization and getting them to agree to work together. 

That could be quite a challenge just for any workaday decision.

Now imagine that what they must agree upon would completely change the way they have always done things. They would have to, as a group, establish new policies and procedures, and put aside their individual priorities, preferences and differences in order to help each other be successful.

Have them come up with an agreement committing them to work together toward achieving mutual success.

You can see this happening, right?

So, let’s ramp it up a bit. Instead of representatives from multiple divisions of the same agency, what if they were all from different agencies?

What if they were all from different governments?  Governments with such differences that they had separated from each other to form independent nation states?

Sound impossible?

I would once have agreed with you, until just a couple of weeks ago when I witnessed it happen.

In the beautiful Balkan nation of Montenegro, I had the honor of participating in the South Eastern European Communicators Conference last month. The event was attended by about 60 government public affairs professionals from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia.

Participants in the SEECOM eagerly, enthusiastically, and unanimously committed to establish open and transparent government policies and practices in their respective nation states. Together, they came up with a simple two-page declaration outlining the principles of transparency, openness, inclusiveness, integrity, impartiality and professional cooperation.

Some of these principles sound pretty familiar, don’t they? We’ve been kicking these terms around here in the United States for a few years. As government communicators, we’ve had an uphill battle trying to implement effective open government practices, trying to teach our leaders to be transparent, and convincing the public that we’re not hiding things.

If you think that it’s been challenging here, imagine what they face trying to do this for the first time in governments that have not been open at all in the past. 

Yet, as difficult and as challenging as the work ahead of them is, the government communicators in South Eastern Europe have a refreshingly positive attitude about it. They are dedicated and enthusiastically determined to work together to be successful.   

Open government is becoming a global objective and the nations in the South Eastern European region are among the latest to sign on to global Open Government Partnership initiative which kicked off in September 2011 by the United Nations. What started as a partnership with eight countries has grown to include nearly 60 in just over a year.

If the government communicators in the other participating nations are as eager and enthusiastic as those I met in Montenegro, the world may soon be a very different place.

I was delighted to be part of the kick-off of the SEECOM and one of the greatest honors of my career was to have been made an honorary member of the forum. I look forward to continuing to work with these extraordinary communications professionals in South Eastern Europe. As they begin to implement changes in their own governments, I think there will be much to learn from their experiences.

Plus, it really puts perspective on the petty interoffice politics we deal with on a daily basis.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's Your Favorite Government PSA?

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Chair, FCN

Video sites like YouTube are a promising method of government communication in that they reach and engage with citizens where they are, speaking in a human voice, rather than the citizen having to visit a government website.

And they are popular. A quick look at statistics from YouTube alone:

  • 800 million unique viewers each month
  • 4 billion hours watched each month
  • Last year (2011) about 140 views for every person in the world
Pew has also reported on the importance of YouTube to citizens in terms of receiving news information. Reuters is now offering news video directly there. And this will likely only increase with the growth of mobile as 65% of tablet owners reportedly use YouTube to watch "short clips."

Further, research from IDC indicates that the Internet is a preferred medium of interaction with the government, and 36% of survey respondents would rather contact the government through the Internet than any other way.

So public service announcements (PSAs) are important. How do you do them well? Are there any in particular that you like?

As an exercise I chose two at random and made some brief notes:

EPA - "Pollution Prevention"

I liked that the tips were relatable and that there were real people in the video as opposed to officials. Maybe the title could have been different, as it didn't limit itself to pollution prevention, but overall I thought it was pretty appealing and useful. It also seemed professional without being extravagant, keeping in mind the issue of taxpayers' money being used.

HHS - "When Is The Right Time To Get A Flu Shot?"

This one I don't know about. It was clear and comprehensible, and relevant (I guess), but I wasn't sure what kind of official this person was. Should I take her more seriously than a regular person? Maybe there should've been a sign that said "Doctor X" nearby? 

Also, generally officials sitting in a chair are a little boring. Remember, you're in the context of pretty crazy stuff. Maybe a different format could have worked, like asking people randomly in the park whether they knew the answer to this question, and then giving them the correct one ("surprise, surprise.") Definitely a good question, but a jazzier approach and some subtitles would have helped.

If you know of a good PSA (or a bad one), please let us know in the comments section.