Panel touts the benefits of a 'new media team'

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The government "new media team" is a recent phenomenon and is increasingly popular as Government 2.0 strategies work their way into agencies' projects and programs.

Mission-driven projects that may benefit from new media--such as agency blogs, Twitter accounts and mobile applications--can face internal challengers, however, said Gwynne Kostin, director of mobile in the General Services Administration's office of citizen services & innovative technologies.

"Some agencies still think these things are toys. They don't see the strategy behind it," said Kostin while speaking June 28 at a FedScoop event in Washington, D.C. "They always call this change management. Things are changing so fast, we shouldn't call it change management, it's just management."

Having a recognized team of new media experts not only encourages use of the medium, it gives it greater credibility throughout the agency, said Haley Van Dyck, the former director of citizen engagement of the FCC new media team, who recently moved to USAID. Her new media team at FCC was the largest across government, said Van Dyck--11 people.

"Having a team makes deploying these things much faster. If you don't have one ask your administrator why not," said Van Dyck. "[Then] try the CIO office and then the communications shop."

A dedicated team also provides a clear point of contact for program leads who want to further enhance their initiatives with new media.

New media is now integrated into conferences at the Health and Human Services Department, which allows it to share information "with the rest of the world in real time," according to a a June 23 blog post from the agency.

HHS recently set up a communications "war room" where employees and an array of computer monitors gathered to tweet and post during an event. They offered a play-by-play of the conference through the web, monitored online outlets and tried to add value--links to source documents and more information, for example--as speakers presented.

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