Posted by: blackvector | March 12, 2009

Public Affairs and the future

One of the most challenging things is trying to figure out exactly where public affairs should be headed. Recently, a friend on FaceBook posted a message: Wondering who is at the helm of the HMS Public Affairs. The reference was not to a person, but rather the concept. In other words, what direction is public affairs taking in regards to what we do.

For one thing, public affairs needs to get on a more strategic course and get out of the tactical focus. Use of social media to engage in indirect influence and awareness of brand is a good start. I recently visited some bases where people are starting to take a more strategic view of their outreach programs and using the new SM tools to their advantage. In these times of lean resources, leveraging social media is a great way to effect the communication sphere. It was interesting to see how one base was very proactive and willing to try new things and another base was rooted in the past. You could see the difference not only in the office, but even in the people themselves. One office had the old guard way of doing PA, some what reactive to what would happen, the other had a blended capability which had a focus on advertising the wing’s mission and getting the word out before things happen.

The earlier post by David Sparks talks about advice, I think the advice here is go out on a limb, try something new, change the focus of the program and execute it. The important thing is to go back and evaluate what was done to see if it was effective and then re-adjust as needed. To do nothing and leave it as it always has been, is not the way to go.

Posted by: blackvector | March 12, 2009

5 People who broke the rules on social media and suceeded

Great article by David Sparks.

He says, “Advice only goes so far. The way we really learn is through real experiences. In this piece, I sought out stories of people who listened to the advice of experts, ignored it, did what they wanted to do, and then succeeded. There was only one rule they followed: They were convinced that what they were doing was right.”

Sometimes we need to break the mold and  start from scratch, advice is good, but it is like doctrine, a guide, a starting point. It is important not to get caught up in the advice as a law that must be followed. I am not advocating complete abdication, but rather one should know when it is time to throw out the “expert” advice and go with your gut feeling. This is what sparks innovation and creativity and as far as I am concerned progress. Public affairs will not move forward until we throw out some old advice and go with our gut feel.

Posted by: blackvector | March 11, 2009

Social networks more popular than e-mail; FB surpasses MySpace

Well, it has happened, Social Networks have taken the lead over e-mail and FaceBook has surpassed MySpace. It is no surprise that PA professionals have also leaped into FB. At a gov 2.0 event in DC today, one of the most interesting comments was how social media is a way to engage stakeholders. PA has traditionally been reactive, a sort of after the fact event. I would argue PA needs to be more engaged in the SM sphere to act as indirect influencers of the communication environment. Using SM is a way to engage on a level that has never before been realized. Yes, I said PAs influence. Indirect influence is a term I heard at the gov 2.o event today from Dr Mark Drapeau, a research fellow at National Defense University. I think he is spot on in using SM to build your networks and thereby having influence over the people in those networks has an effect. PAs can better communicate their agencies message by leveraging these networks.

The fact that social networks are not necessarily exclusive to the 25 and under crowd will hopefully steer more mainstream PA types into the SM world. People need to stop thinking of PA as simply a mechanism to inform. A good PA program will influence, not simply inform. A really good PA program will influence indirectly with a consistent message to achieve a means. The blog post below is definitely worth a read.

From Brian Solis: “This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).” Full article here:


Posted by: blackvector | March 9, 2009

Politicians on Twitter

There are several members of congress on Twitter, it provides transparency in govt. Leveraging this power is something all govt agencies need to do. There are members from both parties on Twitter, some seem to already be running for the 2010 election.

From a Florida Newspaper:

Sen. Dan Gelber said Monday he has decided to “embrace the new online communication tools,” by providing live micro-blogging about the upcoming legislative session via Twitter. “By utilizing one of the most recent tools in new media communication, more Floridians will be able to follow closely the state’s legislative session and the major policy issues discussed in Tallahassee,” Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said on his blog. “We need the public participating in this conversation.” The fact that Gelber regularly blogs says something about his having embraced new media already, or possibly about the fact that he’s in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat that will be open in 2010. To follow Gelber’s tweets, one can go to

From my Twitter account

Another legislator on Twitter is Sen Jim DeMint, republican, from South Carolina.  He uses Twitter to carry on conversations with his constituents and  update his followers on what’s going on in the senate.  He also adds bits of pieces of his personal life into his Tweets. An important part of anyone using Twitter is to add the human element to their Tweets. To follow DeMint’s tweets, one can go

Posted by: blackvector | March 6, 2009

Blocking YouTube Not The Answer

I find it ironic agencies all over the federal government are hailing YouTube as a way to get their information out, yet IT policies block even those whose job it is to post items to YouTube from accessing these sites. There are valid security issues that must be addressed, but there are valid reasons for access that must equally be addressed. The “block all sites” approach is not the happy medium. It is not even the middle of the road.

Why should feds have access to these sites?

The post below talks about how Citizens Are Conversations. Agencies must be involved in the SM sphere to get their messages out, but if their employees can’t access the sites, it is problematic. You can’t have citizen engagement for your organization if your PA/PR folks can’t access the tools to do their jobs.

Dr Mark Drapeau has an excellent piece on this at

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