Today in This Guy Has a Pretty Cool Job News: on Monday we reviewed Newark Mayor Cory Booker‘s suggestion that politicians should act more like PR pros with the ultimate goal of engaging their constituents via social media and interactive town hall meetings rather than just hiding behind lecterns and tired press releases.
In addition to having a nice beard, Justin Herman runs social media at the U.S. General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government. This moniker may read as a joke to cynics, but Herman, like Booker, clearly believes that a more engaged government is a more effective and efficient government–and that politicians and administrators are mistaken if they see Twitter and Facebook as mere “announcement platform[s].”
In this post, for example, Herman reviews Booker’s key points and encourages those who work in jobs like his to use social to “measurably improve citizen services for all or reduce costs” before giving some more specific examples like Twitter Q&A chats about federal student aid programs and TRICARE‘s military health care customer service efforts. (We would also point to the New York MTA‘s performance during Hurricane Sandy as a good example of public social media–and we generally have very little sympathy for that organization.)
Herman acknowledges that many government agencies have a lot of work to do before closing things out with a few looping words of wisdom from one Michael Bluth:
While this is a tiny footnote in the larger story, we see it as evidence of a shift toward a government that communicates more directly with its citizens and retains something approaching a very, very mild sense of humor (or so we dream). Has the GSA been reading our blog or what?
Sure, you could argue that the government has been social for some time in the loosest sense of the word–didn’t “sharability” help Barack Obama win the presidency twice? And if you’re ideologically predisposed to distrust public organizations and all things they do, then you probably won’t think much of this move toward a more socially responsive message from the elected representatives and service organizations that make up our government. But to those of us who work in PR, it justifies something of a victory lap, doesn’t it? We were right all along about hooking, engaging and responding to the public at large–and the folks who run things are finally catching on.