April 21, 2010

Social media: Increasing access to public meetings

Social media increases accessibility to public meetings from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘m at NewComm Forum this week, probably the best gathering of minds around social media, marketing and new media anywhere. (I’ll be speaking Friday about the future of journalism.) It’s also a superlative venue for networking.

Last year I met Kathleen Clark of San Francisco-based CirclePoint. As part of our continuing series of vignettes with experts about different aspects of social media, Kathleen talks about the use of social media by government agencies in this quick 4-minute interview. She makes the often-overlooked point that members of the public who can’t attend government agency meetings in person can often contribute their ideas and feedback through sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

CirclePoint specializes in strategic communications development and environmental planning. Many of their clients are public agencies working on infrastructure projects and seeking to implement communications for public outreach and public education. One key client is the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, which wanted to reach a broader audience through a public presence for them on Twitter (5,215 followers) and on Facebook (I just “liked” them).

Why should companies and government agencies take up social media? “It lets you tell a story in a personal way, and to have a higher level of engagement with people,” Kathleen says. “Traditionally, the mode at a lot of government agencies has been to talk at people. Social media lets you talk with people.”

Accessibility comes into play, too. Not everyone can come to a public meeting. But if you’re a government agency, you can put out the call for feedback on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks, and you can reach a broader segment of the public and hear their concerns, she says.

Absolutely right.