Calling all rebels

I work for a federal government department and we have taken big steps toward entering the 21st century when it comes to communications. We have a corporate Twitter account, we have a YouTube channel, and we have an e-magazine we use to share good news stories about our staff. This is a big deal considering just a few years ago we barely did anything that wasn’t reactive and strictly through the media. But the Government as a whole still has a long way to go.

 

We recently met with our colleagues at the Treasury Board of Canada to talk about migrating our e-magazine over to Canada.ca, the new website for all federal government departments. As it stands now, the magazine is hosted externally, outside of our department’s firewall (prior to launching, this nearly sent our IT Security folks into a tizzy), and it has a commenting section so that, you know, we can actually converse with and engage readers. Basic stuff, really, when you think about all that is available today in the field of communications and social media. But guess what?

 

Sorry, commenting isn’t possible.

 

Excuse me?

 

Commenting isn’t possible.

 

What do you mean commenting isn’t possible?

 

That’s right, a commenting feature is not something you will find on the Government of Canada’s new website. It may be – ‘down the road’ – but not now. And so, we won’t be migrating our e-magazine over because taking away the readers’ chance to provide feedback on our content just isn’t of interest to us. How on earth can we create a publication that actually resonates with people if we can’t engage with them?

 

This meeting happened weeks ago and it still confuses me. At a time when people can reach out to virtually any service provider and communicate with them directly and immediately via countless channels, how is it that the federal government hasn’t come around to a simple commenting feature instead of a ‘contact us’ form?

 

As I sit in my office today with my colleagues talking about our next project, which may or may not involve a virtual reality tour of a prison, I feel like we are trying to push the envelope in an environment that can be stifling. Every step toward innovation and creativity is met with red tape and policy and questions and side-eyes, but I can see that we are slowly creating change. And if we are seen as rebels because of it, we’ll happily carry that title.

 

Are any of you rebels when it comes to innovation and communications? What envelopes are you pushing? COMMENT below!

 

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2 thoughts on “Calling all rebels

  1. Thank goodness that comments are allowed here! I also work for the federal government and I feel your pain, however, it appears that the Canada.ca site might be a great social media barometer. When they adopt something it is clearly out of date so you need to move on to newer media.

  2. I agree this would be great to have access to better up-to-date communication tools. I would agree that the old methods no longer work. How many newsletters go unread. There are too many of them on too many topics that don’t always resonate to staff; and if your department is anything like mine tacking them down via the internal search engine is very frustrating. I believe before government becomes proficient at social media staff will be required to manage and actively monitor this technology – and that becomes a resourcing issue (e.g. financial and human capacity)

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