Friday, October 7, 2016

Recording, Slide Deck posted for "What Do You Mean? Communicate Using Plain Language"

A big thank you to the Partnership for Public Service for helping organize "What Do You Mean? Communicate Using Plain Language" on 10/6/16.

Resources from the event have been posted and can be found at the following links:

Save the date for the Partnership for Public Service's next event on February 7, 2017. Questions? Contact Katie Koziara at or (202) 464-3094.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Slides Posted for "Best Practices in Digital Communications from Canadian, UK, and US Governments"

Many thanks to the participants on the webinar "Best Practices in Digital Communications from Canadian, UK, and US Governments" - Laura Wesley, Cormac Smith, Fran Cavanagh, Adam Thorndike, and David Kaufman.

In addition, thank you to all the sponsors for this webinar. Thank you to the Communications Community Office in Canada, Government Communication Service within the United Kingdom, and the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States.


Government of Canada
Government of the United Kingdom
Government of the United States
**Note: The slides can also be found on Google Drive **


A recording for the webinar can be found here

Description of the Webinar

A previous post describing the webinar

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Slides posted for webinar "Picture This: Telling Your Agency's Story Through Visual Content"

Note: for more information on this webinar, here is another post on our blog

Many thanks to the Partnership for Public Service, the participating presenters, and the many attendees of this exciting presentation.

Questions? Please contact Katie Koziara at

Webinar: 9/14/16 -- Best Practices in Digital Communications from Canadian, UK, and US Governments

September 14, 2016; 11am-12pm EST

Are governments leading, following or just trying to catch up in informing and engaging with citizens in a digital world? Find out how the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are working to meet the digital communications challenge.

The first event in the 2016 International Webinar Series will look at analytics, stakeholder identification and engagement as well as provide examples of specific digital initiatives and/or campaigns. 

The webinar will explore how governments are:
  • Applying a digital by default approach to citizen communications;
  • Targeting and mapping their audiences;
  • Moving well beyond simply adapting traditional products to digital formats; and,
  • Embracing innovative approaches to digital marketing and communications that go beyond promoting just a brand.

About the Presenters

Government of Canada

Laura Wesley, Executive Director, Consultations and Public Engagement, Office of the Privy Council

As a Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of the Privy Council in the Government of Canada, Laura Wesley was a member of the Digital Communications Project team created in 2015 to support the Government of Canada's communication function in making the transition to a digital by default approach. Previously, she worked in various change initiatives at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. She has since become the Executive Director, Consultations and Public Engagement which entails tracking, coordinating and communicating the governments’ efforts to involve citizens and stakeholders in government activities and decisions.

With over a dozen years’ experience working in government, Laura has a strong interest in human motivation and contributing to the building of a results-based and people-focused work culture. Her experience in systems change and human-centered design make her a sought after speaker and author. You can tweet questions or comments to her @resultsjunkie.

Government of the United Kingdom

Fran Cavanagh, Insight Manager, Home Office
Fran is an Insight Manager at the Home Office (UK Government). She designs online discussion monitoring and web analytics strategies and best practice within the Home Office's Strategic Communications Unit, and also consults on projects for policy and operational teams across a wide range of issues including Immigration, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Crime. Before working in government she was a private sector Consultant on online strategy and measurement for several large international clients.
Fran's work focuses on the ways in which people use online media to communicate and engage with content. She has wide experience of analysis tools and techniques and a strong interest in how they can be used to illuminate trends in public opinion, community interactions and technology usage.

Adam Thorndike, Senior Campaigns and Digital Manager, Cabinet Office

Adam Thorndike is Senior Campaigns and Digital Manager, Cabinet Office. He is a trained journalist who has worked in digital communications across both the public and private sector for the last eight years. He was the Global Social media Manager for Regus before moving into a government role to coordinate social media for the Department for Work and Pensions. He is now heading up digital activity for the UK Civil Service from the Cabinet Office in London.

Government of the United States

David Kaufman, U.S. Digital Service

David Kaufman joined the United States Digital Service at the White House in February of 2016, to work on communications, brand, and public engagement. Prior to joining the U.S. Digital Service, David led marketing at Halo Neuroscience, an Andreessen Horowitz backed startup developing neurotechnology for elite athletes. Previously, he spent nearly five years at Google, most recently managing brand marketing and creative development in Google [x].

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Advancing Federal Communications" research paper released - call for volunteers

On Tuesday 9/13/16 at 8:30am EST, the FCN Professional Standards Working Group will present findings on the research paper "Advancing Federal Government Communications". You are invited to attend this discussion!


Today, August 2, 2016, the Federal Communicators Network (FCN) officially released "Advancing Federal Communications," a research paper that makes the case for clear and consistent quality standards for U.S. federal government communication.

The result of a grassroots, volunteer study among an interagency group of government communicators, the paper incorporates extensive primary and secondary research and includes a set of concrete recommendations for improvement.

In keeping with the FCN's guiding spirit of independent self-help at no cost to the public, the group has formed a Professional Standards Working Group to initiate standards development, governance, and outreach related to the goal of developing the "common core" of expectations that federal communicators need.

Due to the complex nature of this undertaking and the distribution of minimal time commitments among volunteers, FCN anticipates this process unfolding over a period of years. To move it forward, a small standards development project in the area of personal use of social media is now underway.

FCN welcomes all volunteers eligible to participate. If you are a federal employee or contractor with a dot-gov or dot-mil email address and wish to participate, contact There is never any fee to participate.

Related Links:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Government Communicators: Focus on Event Photography - by Ann Ramsey

Press conferences, roundtables, ceremonies, public observances: these types of events are familiar material for the government communicator.  Want to step up your game? Use photography. If you need great content—and who doesn't?—consider partnering with your staff photographer. The photos he or she shoots will make engaging visuals that you can turn into quality content.

But partnering with your staff photographer has more advantages than meet the eye:
  • History. Christopher Smith, staff photographer at the Department of Health & Human Services, has worked through many Administrations, knows the principals of the Department and their schedulers intimately, and can anticipate their photo requirements. Plus, he can locate past event photos going back many years. For commemorative projects, his image repository is a goldmine.
  • Economy. No licensing fees are required when you publish your agency’s own photos, nor are permissions required to cover an open-press or public event. Photography makes an effective complement to video; if your budget doesn’t allow for video coverage, photography can work wonders all by itself. Professional photographers are available on a day-rate virtually anywhere, if you have none on staff.
  • Authenticity. Stock photography is polished, inexpensive and convenient, yet has its limits. Viewers may "tune out" stock shots unconsciously as being promotional. When it comes to events, images of real faces and places have the edge over stock shots for authenticity—a priority for every government communicator.
  • Quality. Professionals are equipped for the job. Lighting and special lenses can overcome obstacles such as dim rooms, cramped conditions, or far-off podiums. As important, professional photographers have been trained to tell a story or evoke a mood in one frame. 
Here are a couple of examples: 

Group portrait - HHS Staff

For a group portrait at a conference, HHS staff photographer Christopher Smith brought a light-stand and wide-angle lens, and posed the subjects. The image of the group-members together, sporting their cause-related wristbands, evokes a sense of team spirit.

HHS Secretary Burwell

Equipment and know-how really make a difference. In a candid shot of HHS Secretary Burwell at a feedback session, our eye is drawn to her face by the photographer's use of selective focus and a long lens.


Staff photographers' role expanding

Traditionally, staff photographers cover any number of events, most often to provide visuals for the media and for archival purposes. But the role of the photographer is expanding with the new media formats in use today.
  • Social media. Many professional-grade digital cameras now have Wi-Fi connectivity, making immediacy an option. Well-composed photographs are eye-catchers for posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media sites, whether in real time or afterwards. With photographs, your posts can be picked up by image-based search engines such as Google Images.
  • Electronic press releases, blogs and websites. A clear, relevant photograph helps hook audiences of your agency’s electronic press releases, blogs or Websites, where the event can be explained in detail. Putting a text caption or headline with the photo clarifies immediately what is being shown.
  • Tools for partners and stakeholders. When sending pre-event announcements to partners and stakeholders, you might attach downloadable photographs for them to re-use as tools in getting the word out. If there are too many photos to attach, hyperlink email recipients to where the photos are stored (Flickr, Dropbox, an FTP site, etc.).

Ready to go to work?

A professional photographer will reliably produce quality material, and be a godsend when you’re working out image selection, distribution and archiving. 

Here are some tips for effectively directing your staff photographer: 

  • In advance: For smooth planning, inform the photographer of the advance team, event location, best arrival time, and any parking and security issues. Explain what the interior lighting is likely to be, and whether any exterior shots are needed. Provide the event rundown if possible, including any special access to VIPs or arrangements being made for the media. This helps your photographer set up for the shoot.
  • Before the event starts: Tell the photographer what your needs are. According to Christopher Smith, pros don’t need much detail. “I can plan what needs to be shot for most events," Christopher says. "What I really need to know is who the principals are, where and when the photos will be used, and whether anything special is going to happen at the event. For example, if the speaker is going to show a report or a plaque from the podium, and I know ahead of time, I can remind the presenter to hold it up for a few moments so I can get the perfect shot.”  For shooting format, Christopher finds the medium-resolution JPEG setting efficient for editing and storing.
  • At the event: Assist the photographer with any logistical matters. Help him or her to anticipate what comes next, and where. Indicate anything you would like covered that you may not have mentioned. After that, get out of the way. If you allow photographers to handle the shoot in their own way, you are likely to get the best material.
  • After the event: Give the photographer any details needed for assigning metadata. Specify what deliverables you need. A folder with a few selections? A Flickr download of the whole shoot? Some prints to distribute? Your digital media team will know how best to optimize photo formats for different social media platforms. If you are your own graphics department, here's a guide. Keeping file sizes small will ensure easy loading on line. Again, if you have no digital experts on hand, try using iPhoto, or access a free compression tool like Image Optimizer.
  • WAY after the event: Lest we forget, our friends at NARA in College Park will ultimately want to add our event photographs to the 8 million shots already archived. Keep your photos organized. It will save headaches later.
FCN member Ann Ramsey contributed this blog post. She is a Senior Video Producer at the US Department of Health & Human Services in Washington, DC.

If you are interested in blogging for FCN, contact us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Training Webinar - Reach New Audiences through Online Training; June 30 @ 2pm EST

Reach New Audiences through Online Training

Microassist presents a training webinar entitled "Reach New Audiences through Online Training." This webinar is sponsored by FCN and will be on Thursday, June 30 at 2pm EST.

During this 60-minute presentation, Microassist’s Senior Learning Architect Dr. Kevin Gumienny presents a different way of looking at online training, taking its traditional role beyond internal professional development to using it to reach new audiences.

You’ll learn:
• When and why training can be more effective than other outreach methods
• How both public- and private-sector organizations use online training to reach broad audiences
• Factors to consider when using training as outreach

Learn more about the webinar and register here.

About the Speaker

Dr. Kevin GumiennyDr. Kevin Gumienny leads the Microassist instructional design team. He’s developed online, instructor-led, and blended learning solutions, including courses for the Department of Information Resources, the Department of Public Safety, and the Military Child Education Coalition. Before arriving at Microassist, Dr. Gumienny developed courses for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Stony Brook University. He has worked on courses for the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Southwest Electrical Metering Association, American Public Works Association, and National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing. He has a passion for sharing skills and techniques and has delivered presentations at several conferences.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Upcoming In-Person Training on 5/18/16 - Telling Your Agency's Story Through Visual Content

Picture This:
Telling Your Agency's Story Through Visual Content

Every agency has a great story to tell. By integrating visual aids into their marketing tactics, federal communicators can produce compelling and effective content that will add value to their agency's brand.

Please join the Federal Communicators Network and the Partnership for Public Service on Wednesday, May 18 for a conversation on how visual content can enhance your agency's story. By using photos, videos, infographics and more, agencies can cut through the noise and demonstrate the full scope of their work. During this event, attendees will hear from a panel of communicators from both the public and private sector who have come up with effective ways to tell their organization’s or client’s story.

Please contact Katie Koziara at or (202) 464-3094 if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at this event.

Confirmed Panelists 

Stephanie Bluma
Deputy Assistant Administrator
Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, USAID

Anthony Calabrese
Senior Advisor
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Amy DeLouise
Independent Digital Storyteller and Brand Strategist

Event Details

The Partnership for Public Service
1100 New York Ave NW
Suite 200 East
Washington, DC 20005

Wednesday, May 18
8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration and Networking Breakfast
9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Panel Discussion
10:00 - 10:30 a.m. Q & A

Monday, March 21, 2016

FCN Spring Happy Hour/Networking Event in DC!

by Lisa Chesnel, Community Programs Specialist, USDA

Please join FCN for a Spring happy hour/networking event on Wednesday, March 23 at 5:00 p.m.:

Buffalo Wild Wings 
1220 Half Street Southeast
Washington, DC  20003

Please click here to register.

Thanks and we hope to see you there!!

--FCN Leadership Team

Friday, March 4, 2016

FCN National Happy Hour on March 23, 2016 -- We need your help!


We’ve got an exciting event planned on March 23, 2016 and we need your help!

As you know, this year the FCN leadership team has expanded outside of the DC metro area. John Donovan is our blogger and works for the CDC in Atlanta. We’re very excited to have John as part of the team this year and we’re planning an outreach activity that involves all our members, not just the ones here in the DC metro area.

So, we’re planning something we haven’t done before…a nationwide happy hour!

If you’re a member and live somewhere other than DC we need your help!  We need you to coordinate and promote a happy hour in your area on March 23. We’re hoping the happy hours will help spread the word about FCN and increase our membership across the country. If you’re interested, please send a personal email to: 

We’re excited about these happy hours and they’ll take place during March Madness so hopefully you can catch a game as well.

We will keep you posted on the times and locations soon.

We look forward to planning with you!

--Lisa Chesnel
Outreach Coordinator, FCN Leadership Team

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Survey of Federal Communicators Reveals Challenges, Opportunities

First-ever Survey “by Feds, for Feds,” Shows How Communication Professionals View Current State of Their Profession

Innovation in communication methods should be the number one priority for federal agencies today, according to the newly released results of a Federal Communicators Network (FCN) poll. It is the first survey ever to be commissioned “by federal, career communicators for federal communicators” to assess the state of the federal communications field.

For this research project, FCN polled its 800+ members as well as the nearly 1,000+ members of the Federal Social Media Community of Practice (SM-COP), between February 14-29, 2016. A total of 167 employees responded to the survey. 

A Range of Critical Issues
Asked to rank the theme areas covered in the survey specifically, respondents (n=147) prioritized the “critically” or “somewhat” important issues as follows:

  • “Being more innovative” - 86.9%
  • “Moving to a more proactive role” - 85.7%
  • “Securing more resources for communication” - 81.0%
  • “Developing a more rigorous communication program” - 81.0%
  • “Sharing best practices and other resources between agencies” - 75.3%

The concepts for these top five theme areas crystallized over a period of approximately three months, based on several informal brainstorming sessions sponsored by the FCN and attended by hundreds of career, non-partisan employees across the spectrum of government. (All opinions expressed by members are those of employees themselves, and did not represent those of their agencies.)

Engagement by the Partnership for Public Service

At a meeting held in Washington, D.C. on February 26 to discuss the study’s findings, the Partnership for Public Service’s Director of the Center for Presidential Transition David Eagles praised the FCN for its excellent work, highlighting its national security aspects.

“Transition is a period of vulnerability for the country,” said Eagles. “When you’re exiting the White House on Inauguration Day, who do you talk to?”

Eagles noted that federal communication is vital for public service “in a way that’s not political.” He emphasized: “It’s just smart planning to make the transition process more standardized (rather than having)...a very reactive conversation.”

High-Level Solutions

Attendees at the FCN meeting engaged in a brainstorming exercise to discuss the results of the FCN Survey. The job for each group was to offer solutions to the problem and at least three ways of implementing the solution.

Although it is too soon to offer a comprehensive view of these suggestions, one factor stood out: “data.”  As one participant put it: “Get a seat at the table, offer hard data, connect activities to the mission, and show the value of what you do.”

Next Steps

For the remainder of this spring, FCN writers and graphic designers will be working together to summarize the survey’s findings as well as recommendations from federal communicators themselves, in a white paper planned for release in the fall. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Slide Deck and Recording Posted for "Developing a Communication Plan for the Year Ahead"

Developing a Communication Plan for the Year Ahead

A big thank you to Jeff Brooke of The MITRE Corporation and The Partnership for Public Service for contributing to the training "Developing a Communication Plan for the Year Ahead" on Friday, February 5.

For your reference, you can access the video of the panel discussion, notes from the breakout sessions and additional resources below:

Questions? Please contact Katie Koziara at or (202) 464-3094.

Friday, January 22, 2016

FCN Free Training: Developing a Communications Plan for the Year Ahead

Developing a Communications Plan for the Year Ahead

Please join the Federal Communicators Network and the Partnership for Public Service on Friday, February 5 for a conversation on how to develop a strategic communications plan for your agency.
In addition to external communications, agencies must effectively convey messages internally. By planning for this in advance, agencies can distribute content to their employees and demonstrate the value of their work and input. The session will begin with a thorough overview of an evidence-based communication planning model. Participants will then divide into a breakout group of their choice to draft a high-level communication plan for one of two topics that affect all agencies. Discover how to solve communications challenges within your agency and start 2016 with a strong communications strategy.

Please contact Katie Koziara at or (202) 464-3094 if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at this event.


Jeff Brooke
Principal, Organizational Communication & Change Management
The MITRE Corporation

Event Details

The Partnership for Public Service
1100 New York Ave NW
Suite 200 East
Washington, DC 20005

Friday, February 5
8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration and Networking Breakfast
9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Presentation and Discussion
10:00 - 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 - 11:30 a.m. Planning session for an internal communications challenge 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Welcome FCN 2016 Leadership Team!

by Debra Harris (HHS) and Cori Bassett (ICE), FCN 2015 co-chairs


As we ring in a new year, please join me in thanking the 2015 FCN leadership team for their service. They have put forth a great deal of effort on your behalf last year, and we’ve all benefited from their work. Thank you, Britt, Lisa, Aubrey, Suki, Bernetta, and Latasha!

We welcomed 123 people to the list-serv, bringing us to 848 members. Hundreds attended FCN training events in the form of webinars we hosted with the help of GSA’s DigitalGov University and in-person events at the Partnership for Public Service. We co-hosted and international webinar with our partners in UK’s Government Communication Service, Canada’s Communications Community Office. At three social events throughout the year more than 120 came out to meet fellow communicators. The FCN blog published several stories from members and our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts welcomed new followers throughout the year. Many thanks for asking good questions, attending our events and supporting the gov community of communicators. We look forward to your continued interest in 2016. And, the big news to share…

Welcome to your 2016 Leadership Team!

  • Aubrey McMahan, U.S. Geological Survey -- FCN Chair
  • Ethan Alpern, Department of Energy -- Vice-chair
  • Tamara Blount, Department of Homeland Security -- Secretary/Administrative Coordinator
  • Monique Roberts, National Institutes of Health -- Social Media Coordinator
  • John Donovan, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Blog/Website Coordinator
  • Jeannine Hunter, General Services Administration/18F -- Membership Development Coordinator (pending agency approval)
  • Christine Stevenson, Department of Health and Human Services -- Training/Workshop Coordinator
  • Lisa Chesnel, Department of Agriculture -- External Relations and Outreach Coordinator

Be on the lookout for open registration to the 1st training event coming up on Feb 5th. Keep abreast of all FCN activity by checking our website frequently.

Happy new year!