As the nature of our media shifts, the nature of our communications offices will be forced to shift as well.
Recently, GovLoop member Dave Hebert asked the community: "What will the future of government communications look like?" Even though he leads internal communications at his agency, he was asked to assume responsibility for public-facing web content. Their functions are fairly different -- as Hebert describes, "One is concerned with an audience, and the other is a communications medium and construct. And trying to balance the often-disparate needs of each function was, at times, a little schizophrenic."
Is there a way to house both of these departments under one roof? With budget constraints and personnel cuts, it appears that whether we are ready or not, both traditional and digital -- and internal and external -- communication teams will have to find a way to work together.
Hebert sees the future of government communications relying on three basic competencies: writing/storytelling, digital/multimedia, and measurement. It is important to create captivating content with quick headlines that will grab attention on mobile and social media, to have a diverse set of journalism skills, and to be flexible and responsive to the audience.
Building on those competencies, Dannielle Blumenthal outlined the traits that a communication team member needs: "Must be technical. Must be versatile. Must work well under pressure. Must be resourceful. Must not worship words but welcome video, photography, design, multimedia of all kinds. Must constantly learn. Must have amazing project management skills and be a true team player. Must get coffee twice a day because the job is always two or three jobs in one."
Dan Slee also listed what press offices need to accomplish, starting with the basics:
Slee also made a distinction between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and even "Web 3.0" skill sets:
Combining the old and the new is not going to be an easy process, and will not happen overnight. The traditionalists and the digitalists will need to communicate well with each other -- perhaps with the help of a specialized officer -- and collaborate in order to achieve success. As Slee says, "there's no point in having an old school team with spiral-bound notebooks and in the next room a digital team with jet packs and Apple Macbook pros not communicating."
For another related conversation, please see this discussion:
Where's the Web Team Located in Your Agency?
Follow Steve Ressler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/govloop