NoVA Communicators Newsletter – October 2013

Welcome to the New
NoVA Communicators Newsletter!

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. The new NoVA Communicators Newsletter is now available as a blog on a new WordPress site, where you can browse and comment on current and previous editions of the newsletter. The newsletter will also continue to be emailed directly at the beginning of each month. We welcome your feedback or suggestions on the new format.

In this Issue

Twitter Launches an Alert System for Emergencies

Twitter is rolling out a new feature that will allow users to get emergency information directly from vetted, credible organizations. The system, called Twitter Alerts, will deliver tweets marked as an alert by approved organizations through the traditional timeline feed and via SMS to a user’s cellphone. In addition, users who have the Twitter app for iPhone or Android will receive a push notification with the alert information.
Source: Emergency Management Magazine

The Promises And Pitfalls Of Social Media — For Police

For years, teens in Upper Darby Township, Pa., have taken to the local cemetery for after-hours, underage and very illegal parties. And for years, the cops in the Philadelphia suburb have played a cat-and-mouse game to break up the graveyard debaucheries. But this year, when the cops caught teens drinking in the cemetery, they didn’t just file some paperwork — they also tweeted about it.

Source: NPR All Tech Considered

U.S. State Department Launches Instagram Account

The United States State Department joined Instagram on Monday. The account’s first post was an Instagram video of Secretary of State John Kerry. In a press release, the State Department said the account will be “[s]howcasing behind-the-scenes images of the Department’s domestic and overseas work, including the Secretary’s travels.” The State Department already has accounts on Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Tumblr and Twitter.

Source: Mashable

Facebook ‘Likes’ are protected by the First Amendment

“Likes” on Facebook are now protected by the First Amendment, thanks to a ruling by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled on the side of Bobby Bland, a former deputy sheriff from Hampton, Va., who says he and other employees were fired for ‘liking’ the Facebook page of his boss’s opponent. Their boss, sheriff B.J. Roberts, won his race and promptly fired the dissenting employees. He said the firings were the result of budget cuts and the workers’ disruption of office dynamics. Suspecting that the dismissal had less to do with the budget and more to do with disliking the “likes,” Bland and his fellow Facebook mutineers took the case to court.

Source: Digital Trends

Beyond Service Requests: NYC Takes Yelp Approach to New 311 App

NYC 311+ allows users to write reviews on the conditions of government services and rate them based on a five-star scale. New York City launched a new mobile 311 service request tool with a format that’s been compared to the restaurant and service review website Yelp. Earlier this week, New York City Comptroller John Liu’s Office launched NYC 311+, a mobile civic engagement app that allows users to report traditional 311 service requests but also write reviews of city government services and facilities like subway stations, libraries and playgrounds, according to the official announcement.

Source: Government Technology

CERT Members Amplify and Support Social Media Efforts

With each emergency, the public’s use of social media increases and it becomes more apparent that government officials and emergency managers need to devise ways to not only respond to questions posted on these platforms, but also use them to glean information that can aid situational awareness. Anaheim, Calif.’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is showing how this can be done. Some of its members have been trained to help with the use of social media during emergencies and planned events.
Source: Government Technology

Who’s Not Online and Why

15% of American adults do not use the internet at all, and another 9% of adults use the internet but not at home. The main reasons they cite for not using the internet are relevance, usability, cost and access.
Source: Pew Research Center

Heat Maps and Analytics Drive Fairfax County Home Page Update

When personnel for Fairfax County, Va., began conversations about updating their website’s home page, they turned to analytics and heat maps for design direction. Although the development process spanned about five months, the lengthiest component of the project was examining data to draft a home page that would accurately represent county constituents.

Source: Government Technology