Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love My Government... Today

Say what you want about this government's opinions, but they are willing to speak to me, on the internet at least. The DMV office is another story.

I am currently working with an insurance company, helping them with their marketing and writing their communications. This is a very technical product in a very complex and regulated industry. So far, I've been on the CDC, OSHA, NIH, CMS and Health Department's websites. I have been amazed, a-maze-ed, at how much information there is on the web.

Another great feature is how much each department is speaking to the public through social media. This is true service. I expect the armed services to be on social media because they want recruits. The White House and congress are trying to get re-elected. Even an organization like the IRS has a self-interest in sending out tweets. But for most of the agencies I've been visiting, the only reason to be blogging and sending out rss feeds is to get information to people who want it. Their only goal is to educate us and not self-interest.

To me this is a huge change in philosophy. I've been yelled at by postal employees after standing in a long line. I've talked to people who have waited over three months for a birth certificate. The government has never been known for their customer service. But with Social Media, they are really posting information in a way that's easy for us to find it, reach for it and hopefully understand it.

Where the agencies that I'm talking about do fall down, is the writing. Even the CDC, which is a fairly public facing organization, the voice of these entities is dry, using coloquial terms and many times hard to understand. The NIH is the best. But there has to be a balance between sounding official and welcoming and rewarding readers.

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