10 Trends In My Communication Life for FY11

For government professionals, the start of the fiscal year (October 1) signals the start of professional evaluation for the year that came before. As I wrote up my work for the year it seemed like it might be useful to categorize projects in terms of their significance, and then go up a level and analyze some trends they seemed to point to.


I am not sure that all of this represents trending - some of it is just my workstyle, is unique to my professional life, etc. - or whether it's about government communication or communication in general. Either way, in case it has broader applicability, here you go:


1.     Integrating communications solutions across the board: It’s been a year of getting a single message across using new media and traditional media, creative but consistent branding, and synthesized external and internal messaging.


2.     Partnering subject matter experts in the marketing strategy process: Through brainstorming sessions, helped operational offices spanning traveler processing and import inspection adapt marketing strategy to their unique situations. Provided guidance and technological solutions based on their expressed needs.


3.     Toward generalization and away from hyper-specialization: Contributed to a wide variety of projects using diverse skills rather than focusing very narrowly on a specific field of expertise. Emphasis on flexibility and willingness to jump in proactively as needed, rather than wait to be asked.


4.     Increasing the proportion of research, testing and metrics: Shifted away from emphasis on creativity, intuition, anecdotal evidence and personal opinion and towards an emphasis on best practices, benchmarking, and process.


5.     Focus on customized, rapid-response, modular tools: Communication needs this year cropped up quickly and required professional yet quickly customizable tools that can be emailed as PDFs or shared as presentations. Developed and continued to update various products, including factsheet and PowerPoint template, for this purpose.


6.     Enabling easier access to communication materials for internal customers: Programmed publication catalogue to enable field offices to easily access brochures and posters without submitting special request. Developing ad catalogue for similar purpose. Developed graphical representations of key communication messages to introduce new material to diverse audiences quickly.


7.     Technology-enhanced process reengineering: Programmed self-service site for responses to common questions and requests for guidance. This process also cut down on unnecessary calls to staff while enabling more meaningful questions. Used project-management best practices to break down complex processes and identify greater efficiencies.


8.     Engaging non-technologists with technology: Leveraged pain points in the organization to demonstrate how basic applications could increase work efficiency and communication effectiveness. Examples include mobile application development, collaborative file sharing, project tracking, specialized metrics searches, and internal discussion boards.


9.     Maximizing investment in knowledge already produced: Trained new employees in unfamiliar functions; built collaborative document repositories to make older documents easy to access; repackaged printed materials in abbreviated form for specialized audiences.


10.  Saving on training costs through interagency partnerships: Helped organize volunteers from the Federal Communicators Network, at times in partnership with the National Association for Government Communicators to hold three training events spanning social media, executive communication, and internal communication.


If you have any comments or questions, I’d appreciate them.