The National Association of Government Communicators is running it's comms school in Louisville, KY May 10 - 12 and as official media partners for the event, we've had the great opportunity to hear from the speakers who will be delivering a selection of amazing sessions.
What is your session for NAGC called?
Social Media and Rural Populations
Without giving too much away about your session, what do you hope to cover that is of benefit to attendees of the NAGC comms school?
“Social Media and Rural Populations” will provide attendees with an introduction to America’s diverse rural population and address misconceptions regarding rural communities and their usage of technology. Additionally, we’ll discuss how government agencies can develop a rural-informed social media strategy that builds lasting connections and cultivates trust.
Tell us a little about what you do and how you got there
I’ve worked at Becker Digital since 2015. I run point on digital strategy projects for public sector clients. My background includes agriculture and rural community engagement. I enjoy bridging divides between government agencies and the rural communities they serve. Growing up in rural Mississippi provided me with a unique perspective regarding rural life, and it’s been very rewarding to utilize my experience to help agencies improve quality of life for rural residents all across the United States. In addition to Becker Digital, I’ve taught computer science, entrepreneurship, and marketing at multiple colleges and universities.
What do you love about your job?
I love making a difference through the positive use of social media. When technology is used to bring people together, the potential impact is multi-generational. Social media can be a great way to connect people with supportive resources that improve their lives and enriches the community.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Technology and user trends are constantly changing. What worked last year may not work this year; thus, the challenge to continually innovate and stay up to date on continuing education is paramount.
What are some of the more memorable events you’ve had to deal with in your role and what lessons did you learn?
For Becker Digital, some of our most memorable work has centered on connecting the veteran community with supportive mental health resources. In 2019, we developed a social media strategy for a nonprofit organization that launched a mental health support program for veterans and their families in rural Pennsylvania. When the pandemic hit, all of the nonprofit’s in-person outreach events and programming were canceled. The online community we had developed through social media provided a lifeline for disabled veterans and their loved ones to connect with a supportive community during these challenging times. This experience reminded me of the immense potential of social media to impact our society for good, when it’s leveraged in an ethical and responsible manner.
What is it about communications, media or crisis comms that interests you so much?
I am a “people person” – I like meeting new people, getting to know their stories, and learning about their interests. A career in communications provided me the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life. I find this opportunity to be incredibly enriching, both personally and professionally.
Can you give one piece of advice for those who want to start a career in Government communications?
I would encourage aspiring government communicators to invest in themselves through higher education and on-the-job experience.
What are your favorite tools you use to do your job more effectively?
I'm a bit old-school. I still enjoy putting a nice pen to paper, at least in the initial phases of a project. That's how I organize my initial thoughts, and it helps me work more efficiently when I take to the computer. It's also a great way to crystalize response to difficult questions.
Are there any books, podcasts or any other resources you would recommend for the comms pro?
The Defense Information School Social Media Forum is an excellent resource for government communicators that work with military audiences.