2014 – a look back at digital communication for the #publicsector

At the end of 2014, it is time to look back at what this year meant for the evolution of online communication for the diplomatic environment and public administration.

We were glad to offer you interesting interviews with representatives of Romanian and international public institutions, who shared their experience in using the digital medium for institutional communication: the European Funds Ministry said that “in 2013 the institution’s website traffic coming from social networks increased by 80%“, while the Ministry of Defense revealed that “social networks are a basic component of the [their] communication strategy.” For the former British Ambassador to Bucharest Martin Harris, “social media has been a successful experiment”, while Radu Puchiu, coordinator of the Online Services and Design Department in the Romanian Government, said that although the public administration is not accustomed to communicating online, it is working to change this and it has made great strides in terms of opening institutional data with the launch of the portal data.gov.ro or in terms of increasing transparency in public institutions by launching the jobs portal posturi.gov.ro. This last project was also nominated in the Open Government Partnership Summit in London at the end of 2013 as one of the successful projects carried out at international level for increasing transparency of government activities, namely the fight against corruption and lack of transparency in recruitment for the public sector.

In order to facilitate communication and the exchange of experiences and best practices between state institutions, civil society, journalists, bloggers, communicators of representatives of foreign institutions in Romania or even the private sector, we launched DigiGov, the first networking club for the Romanian individuals in charge of communication across public sector institutions. DigiGov is a network with monthly meetings, each of these meetings having a specific topic for discussion. The project was greeted enthusiastically by communicators from various public institutions and the first two meetings were held in October and November. To keep in touch with each other and outside the monthly meetings we created also a Facebook group DigiGov Club, which is a closed group devoted exclusively to those who have responsibilities for PR and media relations, online communication and e-governance in public institutions. The project will definitely continue in 2015 with new initiatives, hopefully interesting for its members.

This year we also launched a Communication Guide for the Public Administration for four of the major networks currently popular among domestic and external audiences: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google+. This project was developed in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister of Romania, through the Department of Online Services and Design, the representatives of which we thank for the initiative and support. The guide is a free, open resource, with practical information on the use of social networks in the official communication of institutions, starting from the basic elements and continuing to more advanced aspects. There are already examples of central or local institutions in the country that have not only embraced this new form of communication, but which are communicating effectively and in a adapted manner to their specific institutional profile and to their target audiences.

Besides launching our own projects or in partnership with public institutions in Romania, we have also contributed to international projects, such as the Twiplomacy study 2014, conducted by Burson-Marsteller global communication company.

Also in 2014 we witnessed several developments in the world of digital communication for the public sector in Romania. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a smartphone application called “Travel safely” for Romanian citizens, which offers access to useful information like travel alerts, tips for traveling safely in certain areas, and more. The Oradea Town Hall launched the first mobile application for complaints – Oradea City Report – a free application for mobile phones or tablets that allows citizens to send notifications related to various situations to the institution or operators of local public services, such as Oradea Water Company, Oradea Local Transport, Oradea Local Police etc. With Oradea City Report, the city hall won the OGP Awards 2014 for the best application of public interest.

2014 was also the year when social networks highlighted its force of mobilization in Romania, namely in the presidential campaign, after which Mr. Klaus Johannis became not only the first man in state, but also the first political leader in Europe to surpass the 1 million fans on Facebook threshold. More information about this topic you can find here.

A particular element of international communication related to Romania was the exchange of messages online (on Twitter) between Russian Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania. Twitter has also been one among the main channels of communication during protests in Kiev since the beginning of 2014 – this includes both messages of support and political messages from the international community, as well as information messages from members of the Ukrainian National Resistance Movement.

2015 promises to be an exciting year in terms of online communication – increasingly more public institutions and politicians are beginning to use social networks to keep in touch or to build a conversation with those who / whom they follow. Moreover, even before the end of the year, important announcements took place on Facebook, such as the Government reshuffle.

Regarding the evolution of social networks in Romania, Facebook has grown slightly this year (up to 7.4 million users), while Instagram almost doubled the number of accounts opened by Romanians. A brief analysis of the main trends you can find on manafu.ro blog.

Along with diplomacy, which successfully uses social networks to actively communicate objectives, activities and positions, public administrations are beginning to understand that effective communication online can help them reach categories of individuals that that can no longer be reached through traditional channels. Of course not all information or activities can be communicated online and we do not argue that public institutions should replace the traditional way of communicating with one exclusively online. What I consider, though, is that the digital environment can provide a complementary channel to traditionally transmitted messages and can better facilitate the access to information to an audience accustomed to take its information online. This would provide more transparency to the institutional activity and it definitely represents a step forward in reforming and modernizing the Romanian public administration.

Thank you for your support in 2014 we hope you will continue to do so in 2015. You can follow us on the digitaldiplomacy.ro blog or on one of our accounts online: Twitter – DigiDiploRo, Facebook – Digital Diplomacy Romania or Google+ – Digital Diplomacy Romania.

Happy New Year, with many beautiful projects!

Join the DigiGov Club Facebook Group!

On November 27 we organized the 2nd edition of DigiGov, an informal but comprehensive network of communicators working in the public administration. We were joined by approximately 40 colleagues with media relations and online communication responsibilities from the local and central administration, Romanian Police and Jandarmerie, embassies and other international bodies based in Romania.

We discussed about how to organize, write, structure and promote content for the social networks and also how to schedule it in order to make better use of time and human resources. One point on the agenda was about how to structure an editorial calendar and if this tool could prove useful for the public administration.

During the meeting, some of the members suggested that we set up a Facebook group which could be used by the members to keep in touch with each other, outside of the regular monthly meetings. So here it is! We created a closed Facebook group called DigiGov Club, exclusively dedicated to those with media and online communication responsibilities in the public administration.  The discussions are private and are not available for users outside the group and the group itself is only available pending approval by myself or Andra. So if you fit the only condition set above and are interested in getting in contact with colleagues from a variety of public institutions to discuss about online communication and more, please request that you join the group!

The next DigiGov meeting will take place in January 2015, when we will also announce a very interesting project we have been working on these past couple of months! Stay tuned!

DigiGov noiembrie_ansePhoto credits @Andrei Nicoara

A new DigiGov meet-up: The editorial calendar

We are going to organize a new DigiGov meet-up on November 27. This month’s topic will be “How to organize content on social networks: The editorial calendar” and we chose it precisely because we are fast approaching a very busy and eventful period (national days, Christmas and New Year celebrations, snowfalls)

We will discuss about how to create an editorial calendar, how useful a tool this is and also how fesable it is to use such a tool in the communication department of a public institution.

As I’ve told you some time ago, the DigiGov meet-ups are open to all communicators in the Romanian public administration but also from embassies and other international institutions based in Romania. The DigiGov network is focused on bringing together communicators and social media managers from a wide range of public institutions (ministries, Government, embassies, representations of foreign bodies in Romania etc) so that they can exchange best practice ideas amongst themselves but also with journalists, bloggers etc

DigiGov is an internal, institutional network, which regular monthly meetings and each one of them will have a specific topic of discussion – usually derived from the challenges or day-to-day work activities of the members.

If you are working in the communication or public relations office of a public institution based in Romania and are interested to join the discussions, please drop us an email on one of the email addresses below:

  • andreea@digitaldiplomacy.ro
  • andra@digitaldiplomacy.ro

We launched the DigiGovRO network

We successfully launched the DigiGovRO network for communicators in Romanian public institutions. The event and first edition of DigiGovRO meetings was held successfully on 28 October 2014, as we announced in a previous article,

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We were very happy to have with us at this first meeting numerous representatives of the main central institutions in Romania, diplomatic missions accredited in Bucharest, international institutions and local administration in Bucharest, as well as NGOs. We were also was honored by the presence of a member of a similar project in Serbia, Belgrade 4 Digital Public Diplomacy Initiative.

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The event was an opportunity to tell the audience briefly about the DigitalDiplomacy.ro project and about the objectives of the DigiGovRO network (full PowerPoint presentation can be found here), and then based on the presentations given by our special guests a vivid discussion started on how social networks are used by public institutions in Romania, on the main advantages and challenges encountered in their work so far. Thus, one of the main objectives of the DigiGovRO network was met, that of facilitating communication and exchange of experiences and best practices between communicators in the Romanian public administration and those in international public institutions or foreign representations in Bucharest.

The first special guest, His Excellency Mr. Paul Brummell, British Ambassador to Bucharest, shared with us his experience regarding the use of social media in the diplomatic work, with a focus on Twitter (@PaulBrummell)  as the main communication channel for digital diplomacy, but also about his recently launched blog.

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The second special guest, Mr. Radu Puchiu (@RaduPuchiu), State Secretary & Coordinator of the Online Services and Design Department within the Romanian Government (@OnlineGovRo), spoke about the work and efforts of the Government in terms of public sector online communication, as well as about projects and progress registered by the Romanian administration within the framework of the Open Government Partnership.

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Last but not least, the communication team of the British Embassy, represented by Roxana Frosin, presented the case study  of the social media communication campaign carried out by the British Foreign Office for the NATO Summit 2014 which took place this past September. This presentation illustrated perfectly the theme of the DigiGovRO meeting, the importance of an online communication plan.

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During the very interesting discussions that followed, we set the theme of the next meeting, which will take place later this month.

We thank once again everyone who responded to our invitation to attend the launch of the DigiGovRO network, we especially thank our special guests and the British Embassy in Bucharest together with the Prime Minister’s Office for supporting this initiative!

We will announce soon details regarding the next meeting, and if you are interested to be part of this network, please send us an email at andra@digitaldipomacy.ro or andreea@digitaldiplomacy.ro.

About the DigiGovRO launch and the DigitalDiplomacy.ro project we also talked about on the live show “Open Microphone Web 2.0” with Maria Isopescu of Radio3Net ‘Florian Pittis’, the online radio of the national station, Radio Romania. More details about how  the discussion went can be found here.

Next, follow the special blog section dedicated to the network for new information about the project and opportunities!