Thursday, November 29, 2012

FCN Election 2013: What's It Like To Serve On The Board?

Posted by: Dannielle Blumenthal, November 29, 2012

OK, so in the next day or so the call for nominations for the FCN Board will be going out to our mailing list. (Click here to join it - if you're a federal employee this automatically makes you a member.)

Please note that FCN membership is restricted to federal employees, and therefore only federal employees on our mailing list can nominate people for the Board (including themselves).

Someone sent me a note asking what's involved in the Advisory Board role and it seemed like a good opportunity to share some info on the Board of Directors' role generally.

One way to think of it is in terms of time & responsibility:
  • The Chair is the public face of FCN and harnesses the skills of the Board members to make major decisions about FCN's direction as a group
  • The Co-Chair offers support, advice and guidance and in our case moderated all the webinars (thank you Jeri Richardson!)
  • The Task Force members take responsibilities in areas of their choosing, normally "owning" a particular role. Examples: Kathleen Taylor is the Voice of FCN through our newsletter. Ellen Crown is our "mastermind" social media strategist. John Verrico established a partnership with the National Association of Government Communicators to sponsor some events. Rachel White wrote the charter with Kathleen. Bill Brantley offered to set up a Drupal site and fund it with his own money. Jay Krasnow set up our events in EventBrite. Todd Solomon set up live meeting space. 

When you join FCN you also join a community and our little SWAT team did our share of backing each other up, calming each other down (isn't it fun when the webinar ECHOES), and being supportive through life's little transitions.

Our Advisory Board members have included Camilla Stroud and David J. Starck. Basically, these are "on-call" positions where you offer advice and expertise when you have the chance, and it's up to the Board to offer them.

Of course you can always volunteer to help. Maggie McGuire set up Twitter guidelines. Melanie Solomon helped us think through the Drupal site (and her sage advice was one reason I felt we should prioritize other things.)

If I am forgetting anyone, please forgive me.

In any case, as far as Board membership goes, I asked everyone to share their experiences, and here's a word-for-word from the responses received:


Collaborate on new media/ social media initiatives
Buzz marketing (promote FCN events within smaller circles of professional communicators)
Communication planning and strategy implementation


In my agency, being assigned public affairs duties means you’re alive and breathing.  I’ve learned a great deal about communications serving as an FCN board member.  Working with communications professionals from other agencies taught me a lot, and the networking opportunities are invaluable.  And if that’s not enough, did I mention the people I’ve worked with are just genuinely nice people?

Participated in conference calls, helped draft the charter, contacted potential speakers and coordinated with the rest of the group to schedule speaking events, posted event information on Govloop and other outlets, promoted FCN among colleagues.

  • Participated in conference calls and planning meeting
  • Reviewed/edited FCN charter and other guiding documents
  • Contributed to FCN newsletter
  • Posted blogs and facilitated discussions on FCN's Linked-In group
  • Cross-posted social media discussions between FCN and other government communications related organizations, such as the National Association of Government Communicators, U.S. Navy Public Affairs and others
  • Coordinated joint events between FCN and NAGC, including leading a Webinar on media relations.
  • Promoted FCN among colleagues.

Please watch for the nomination survey this weekend, and we welcome any questions or comments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sometimes You've Got To Pass The Baton

Posted by Dannielle Blumenthal, November 27, 2012

This Thanksgiving vacation I spent a lot of time being grateful but also thinking about what matters to me as a human being. One of those priorities, though I never exactly said it flat out, is  helping other people find empowerment and personal growth.
This is one of the aspects of the Federal Communicators Network (FCN) that is most enjoyable to me. Holding events that help other feds to learn a new skill for free. And over the past year, working with feds to run the network together.
During the holidays it hit me that 2013 is upon us soon. Meaning, it's time for the first-ever election of the Federal Communicators Network (FCN) Board.
This is a pretty big deal for us. We're not run by a single person anymore, and there is no automatic renewal of responsibilities.
This comes after a heck of a year in terms of accomplishments (check out the blog for links etc.):
  • We now have an official charter and a Board.
  • We launched our social media presence on GovLoop, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and now a blog.
  • We have our first-ever strategy - which led us to close the Facebook group and focus on building our network mostly on LinkedIn.
  • We held Board meetings live and on the phone.
  • We started to partner with the NAGC for some events.
  • We continued to hold training events, initiating teleseminars and webinars to reach those only able to attend remotely. This led us to rack up three times the number of attendees, on average, than in the past - sometimes 100+.
  • We also introduced a new format for our email newsletter.
All of this is due to our amazing Board of Directors working together. 
And now it's time to pass the baton.
I've said to the Board many times that I don't want FCN to be "the Dannielle show" and I mean it.
So while I'm going to continue helping out in 2013, for sure, I'm not running for the Board, either as Chair, Co-Chair or as a Task Force Member. It's time to give other people a chance to run things.
Right now the Board is reviewing the first part of the election process, which is a survey I'll be sending to FCN members to see who they want to nominate.
But in the meantime I wanted to make sure federal employees are aware of this opportunity. 
If you are interested in taking on a meaty, challenging leadership role that is guaranteed to grow you professionally and personally, consider joining FCN and nominating yourself for a place on the Board.
Or maybe you know someone who would be interested - make them aware of the opportunity.
All you have to do is click here to subscribe to the FCN Newsletter, which also serves as our mailing list.
When the nomination survey goes out, it will go to the FCN Newsletter mailing list.
At that time you will have the opportunity to input your name or the name of someone you think might be interested. (Just make sure they consent first!)
The following spots are available:
1) Chair (1 spot)
2) Co-Chair (1 spot)
3) Task Force Member (6 spots)
1) The names of the nominees will be collected until December 9.
2) There will be another week during which the nominees can make their interest in FCN known.
3) A second survey will contain all the names of the nominees and allow FCN members to make their elections.
We also have space for Advisory Board members but that is not an elected position and you would need to contact the FCN Chair separately if interested.
Click below for the FCN charter, which is also available on SlideShare:
You can also check out our blog at 
Please note: FCN is an independent group of volunteers and is not affiliated with, or sponsored by, any organization or government agency.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Want to Join FCN's Board In 2013?

The Federal Communicators Network's charter calls for elections every calendar year. More information to follow on a great opportunity to build your professional network and help others at the same time.

Slides From Our Last Lunch & Learn

If you missed it: Check out the slides from FCN's Nov. presentation on metrics.

What We're Talking About Lately, Thanksgiving Weekend 2012

Here's what we're talking about this week, among other things:

  • "I’d like to let go of the details, but my boss is always asking for them. How do I handle it?” Original article here.
  • Third-party validation is so important to your career, as Lily Whiteman points out in Federal Times. It's basic PR. What are some ways to go about obtaining this? What credentials impress you? Original article here.
  • Does it seem to anyone else like more feds are joining LinkedIn?
  • What is the origin of giving people "59 minutes" of Administrative Leave before a holiday rather than simply an hour? Secondly, around what time do you get the announcement, and who sends it? Third - do you expect this, or is it always a "surprise"?
  • Would you trade your desk to telework at will? See blog post here.

If you're a current or federal employee or contractor, you're welcome to join the conversation at LinkedIn. (The FCN group at GovLoop is open to all.)  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nominate an Outstanding Federal Employee for the 2013 Service to America Medals!

Via Samantha Donaldson at the Partnership for Public Service. Posted by Dannielle Blumenthal:
"Today’s federal employees are addressing the needs of our veterans, finding cures for cancer, and tackling climate change. 
Do you know an outstanding federal employee whose work deserves national attention? Nominate them for a 2013 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal
The Sammies are the most prestigious awards honoring our nation’s public servants and pay tribute to America's dedicated federal workforce. 
Honorees are chosen based on their commitment and innovation, as well as the impact of their work on addressing the needs of the nation. 
Award winners receive national recognition and cash prizes up to $10,000! 
Submit your nomination here! Nominations close January 4, 2013. 
Visit for more information."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Free! Plain Language Training for Federal Employees

Did you know that when it comes to government communication, clarity is the law?

Fortunately, Federal communicators have free training available in this area.


"We offer free, half day plain language and writing for the web training classes for all federal agencies. All of our classes are based on the Federal Plain Language Guidelines and involve interactive writing exercises. For training outside the DC area, you must pay the trainer's expenses. We'll come to your managers as well."
  • More information here
  • Request training here
See also: Resources for plain language trainers