Center Blog

Coaching Your Communications Team Through the Digital Transition


January 4, 2017

Katie Koziara Associate Manager, Partnership for Public Service



During the past eight years, digital media changed the way Americans interact with their government—from tweets and blog posts to videos and contests. So, what happens with this technology when the Trump administration takes office this month?

Agency communicators have a key role to play in preparing their office for the next administration. Much like college football coaches, agency communicators develop a new team every four (or eight) years. It’s critical that they put their office through practice drills now to ensure their employees are ready for prime time come January 20.

Here are some tips for federal communicators preparing for the digital transition:


AVOID PERSONAL FOULS

Take stock of all registered accounts to determine which are person-specific (e.g., @BarackObama) and which apply more generally to the office (e.g., @POTUS). In many cases, leaders may not take the former accounts with them when they leave office since they are considered government accounts and must be archived. Check with NARA now to avoid a headache (and potential legal implications) down the road.


DON’T THROW AWAY THE PLAYBOOK

When an account must be phased out, archive it—if possible—so it remains accessible. Federal agency tweets and Facebook posts are embedded in news articles, websites and more, and deleting these social media accounts breaks the links in these posts.


PUT EFFORT INTO SCOUTING YOUR NEW TEAM

Incoming political appointees will need to develop an online persona. Do research on appointees before they arrive to get a sense of who they are and how they express themselves. Early on, get photos of them and help them craft their voice for blogs and social media.


CHANGE UP YOUR PLAYS

Before outgoing political appointees leave, get their passwords so you can access the accounts they used. Then make sure these account passwords are changed when new leaders take them over. Additionally, agencies should look into password managers that automatically and frequently change log-in information so these living archives remain secure.


WATCH YOUR GAME FILM

Document this transition as best you can. Detailing what needs to take place for a digital transition will help agencies during the next leadership turnover. And future federal communicators will thank you.


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