Yesterday, I received a phone call from a friend who would very much like to come to the conference, but she needed more justification to present to her boss. Currently, her agency doesn't use social media but she said she sees it "bubbling to the top" and that attending the conference would be very helpful to her.
In these hard economic times, I’m sure there are many of us that need more justification to show our bosses. So it was coincidental that she called when she did, because over the weekend I was thinking about the final program book. I'm waiting for additional information from some of our speakers and confirmation of two more so that I can put it together.
When I began to tell my friend about the topics our speakers would be covering, she grew very excited and said, "That's exactly what I need." She was excited not only about having justification for her boss but also for the information and knowledge she would gain by attending the conference.
I told her we feel very fortunate to have the support of the U.S. Air Force, which is sending us their Chief of Emerging Media, Capt. Chris Sukach, who will not only share with us how and why the Air Force got into social media but also what has and hasn't worked for them. Chris will also be doing a "hands on" for us in which she'll help participants set up Twitter and Face Book accounts. How we got to the Air Force and Chris is a lesson in itself on how social media can work that began with a contact in Afghanistan and worked its way around the world to the Pentagon.
We're also excited to have Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook, who made headlines in the Sun Sentinel when he wanted to establish a Face Book page to reach out to his constituents. (http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2009/05/the_great_facebook_debate_cont.html) He asked his city attorney to obtain an opinion from the state's Attorney General whether or not the Face Book page would be subject to the Sunshine Law, which probably helped to precipitate the debate about records retention that we find ourselves in today. The state Attorney General’s Sunshine Law attorney Alexis Lambert will help shed some light on that for us.
On the same panel with Mayor Brook is Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart, who advised his commissioners to stay off Face Book. (http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2009/05/lauderdale_city_attorney_tells.html) Meanwhile, Broward County Property Appraiser's Office General Counsel & Director of Administration Ron Gunzberger, who is also on the panel, sent an e-mail to a Sun Sentinel reporter in which he wrote that he disagrees with Stewart. (http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2009/05/facebook_debate_take_ii_proper.html) Rounding out this panel, which might have more drama than Reality TV, is Boynton Beach IT Director Phyllis Koch who comes at the debate from a completely different angle.
It’s no secret that established media organizations are struggling with the shift to social media on the Internet. Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division, said recently that the impact of social media was overestimated in the short term and underestimated in long term. He’s not sure of the long term but says that news organizations don't own the news anymore. There is a transformation for the journalist from being the gatekeeper of information to sharing it in a public space. This, of course, impacts us as government communicators; we don’t necessarily have to rely on traditional media to help us reach our stakeholders anymore. Our panel of distinguished local West Palm Beach area media personalities will discuss how they are incorporating social media into their work and how it is changing the way news is delivered.
Author, speaker and digital marketing expert Marvin DeJean is the creator of the “Prime Directive” Leadership Program that helps businesses, individuals, and organizations take the quantum leap to the ever expanding digital marketplace. He will help us understand how to use social media marketing to drive traffic and, most importantly, credibility to our brand.
How we came to find April Edmonds is also a lesson in social media. It began with a pipe dream of mine to connect with Macon Phillips, the White House’s Director of New Media, appointed by President Obama this past January. Meanwhile, Capt. Sukach recommended Andrew P. Wilson of the Centers for Disease Control as a speaker. While most of us are probably not familiar with his name, many of us are familiar with Andrew's work. You can find it on many of our web sites; Andrew is the force behind flu.gov and the CDC’s use of social media to reach out to the public about H1N1 flu. It took some time before I was able to connect with Andrew, and was disappointed when he said he was unable to do our conference.
Next, Capt. Sukach suggested Jeffrey Levy at the Environmental Protection Agency. Jeffrey is that agency’s Web Manager. He also serves as co-chair of the Federal Web Managers Social Media Subcouncil. I connected with Jeffrey on GovLoop. For those of you not familiar with GovLoop.com, you should be. It’s like LinkedIn, only for people who work in government. Unfortunately, Jeffrey was also unable to take part in the conference.
He did, however, suggest April Edmonds, who serves with him on the Social Media Subcouncil and is right here in our own backyard … sort of. April is with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in Tallahassee. She’s calling her presentation As the “Critter Crawls” Social media/networking for government: You have to walk before you can run. She says government is often like a soap opera but with a policy and procedure manual. She’ll describe experiences and lessons learned with building social media/networking sites. Additionally, she’ll share her experiences and involvement with the Federal Web Managers Social Media Subcouncil and the Florida 2.0 initiative.
We have two additional speakers from whom we’re waiting further word. They will add additional value to an already valuable conference. Nowhere else will you find this much knowledge and this much expertise packed into a day and a half for only $199 (members) and $259 (non-members).
Program Committee members, including myself, Donna Giuliana, Lisa De La Rionda and Marlene Passell are very excited about this line-up of what can only be termed social media superstars. We look forward to seeing you at the conference.
I would like to thank my friend for being the inspiration for writing this blog article. I hope it will temporary satisfy her need for further justification and help others of you who have the job of convincing your boss of the necessity of attending this conference. Be sure to follow conference updates on Twitter @FGCAConf09. And if anybody knows Macon Phillips, I’d still like to be introduced to him.