NoVA Communicators Newsletter – December 2013

This newsletter for communicators in the Northern Virginia region provides some of the latest news and trends in public and media relations, social media, government technology, emergency communications and more.

In This Issue

MTA Metro-North Railroad Struggles to Manage a Crisis in Real Time

“Tell it first and tell it fast.” That’s the absolute journalistic rule for those reporting on a headline-grabbing event like this week’s fatal Metro-North train derailment in Spuyten Duyvil, N.Y. For PR professionals, specifically crisis managers, getting swiftly ahead of such a story while controlling potentially damaging details is of paramount importance. That was the challenge for Metro-North Railroad, a service run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), on Sunday as news came that a passenger train had derailed around 7:20 a.m. as it moved through a precarious bend in the Bronx.
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Winter is Coming… Be Ready

With winter bearing down on most of the country this week, it’s a great time to make sure you’re ready for cold weather. Winter can be unpredictable as temperatures drop quickly and snow piles up within hours. Winter is coming, so heed the advice of the Game of Thrones and start preparing now.
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Mobile App Tracks Emergency Volunteers

Community emergency response teams (CERT) have a new mobile app at their disposal to help track the locations of fellow volunteers and key points of interest during a deployment. Called Deploy Pro, the app uses a GPS-based interactive map to display the positions of team members using color-coded pins. In addition, the program contains a triage victim counter and CERT reference guide for use in the field.
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Twitter is finally trying to answer the question ‘What is Twitter?’

Twitter’s biggest challenge in all its IPO hoopla sounds relatively simple, but in fact has proved quite difficult: Explain itself. To you and me and everyone else who’s familiar with the huge, seemingly uncontrollable world of Twitter, there’s sense in the subtweets and hashtags and Internet-speak.
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5 Ways to Build Your Twitter Following

Jonathan Reichental is good at Twitter. StateTech and Huffington Postboth recognized the CIO of Palo Alto, Calif., as the top government CIO on the platform for the quality of his tweets and strength of his followers. Reichental (@Reichental) has 2,873 followers as of this article’s publication, which falls well short of pop star Justin Bieber’s 47.3 million, but is impressive in the world of government IT. And beyond his sheer number of followers, Reichental excels at attracting influential leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology and government communities, including figures like President Barack Obama. Building and retaining a Twitter following can be difficult, so how does Reichental do it? He admits to putting a good deal of thought into using Twitter effectively, and he recently shared his recipe for success.
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Facebook Tweaks News Feed for More ‘High Quality’ Content

Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm yet again, this time with the hope of presenting users with more "high quality content" like news articles and current events. The updated algorithm means that users can expect more news and story links to appear in News Feeds, especially on mobile, wrote Varun Kacholia, an engineering manager, and Minwen Ji, a software engineer, on the company’s blog Monday.
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Tips for Making Your Website Responsive

Have you ever tried to read a newspaper from 100 feet away with a pair of binoculars? If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, that is how your mobile visitors feel. Many marketers are struggling to find the right strategy to effectively engage all of their Web visitors—and rightfully so! People can now connect to the Web through hundreds of different devices, all with unique screen sizes, resolutions, and device capabilities. Responsive Web design (RWD) has become the gold standard for website redesign projects due to its fluid nature and ability to adapt to the size of device screens. Responsive design gives peace of mind to marketers, because they know their site will look good on any screen.
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Setting Open Standards for Government Documents

When I ran the open standards consultation, I heard first hand the effect that government’s choice of technology was having on people. Take documents, for example. You might think sending something to a department online is an easy thing, but that’s not necessarily true.
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PR Points to Remember When Reaching out to Millennials

Millennials are a much sought-after demo by communicators, but they’re not an easy bunch to nail down. In 2008 and 2012, the Obama presidential campaign wisely targeted Millennials (born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s), but since then the president’s communications team has learned the hard way that their continued support is not a foregone conclusion. Recent polls show a majority of the 18-29 age group disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling on most major issues, including Syria, Iran, the economy and health care. How did things get so bad?
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