ELC 2010: State uses new media to reach worldwide audience

Monday - 10/25/2010, 9:41am EDT

Molly Moran, Senior New Media Advisor, Department of State

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By Vyomika Jairam
Federal News Radio

New media is helping federal workers collaborate with one another. And more importantly, it is enabling new ways to deliver on the mission. One great example is the State Department, where outreach to people throughout the world is getting an update via new media.

Tom Temin spoke with Molly Moran, the point person for new media at the State Department at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg.

The State Department, Moran says, has more than just her on the case; there are many new media advisers and employees within the Office of Public Affairs working to further the departments mission through new media. Moran focuses on efforts that incorporate new media for use by State employees

To her, new media is synonymous with social media, and her work includes looking at blogs and Wikis to help employees communicate and collaborate with each other.

One of Moran's latest initiatives is the Sounding Board, which serves as an "ideation forum."

"Employees can submit ideas on how to make the department more efficient, more effective, and other employees read those ideas. It's a very transparent medium; they discuss the ideas and debate them," Moran said. "It's a very popular site, and there's a lot of content, and so we were very excited at first when we began to get all that content, and we realized content begets more content. The more there was on the site, the more discussion we saw on the site."

The new media team introduced new features to the site last week; employees can now vote on ideas, identify conversations and comments that were helpful, and can label favorite ideas.

"Now we're looking for ways to help employees filter that, and find more of a communal voice," Moran said.

Moran wasn't surprised by how successful the Sounding Board has been, she said, because the State Department has been incorporating new media for some time now. She pointed to precursors such as Diplopedia, the internal Dept. Of State Wikipedia, and internal blogs. One of the first such initiatives was E-Diplomacy, which was launched under Secretary Colin Powell.

E-diplomacy has three tasks:

  • improve communication and increase knowledge management
  • help employees be a part of IT decision making; have end users become more involved with process
  • allow other agencies, foreign governments and other State partners participate in a more robust discussion about technology

While Moran might be responsible for new media development, she says she's not a card-carrying member of the digiterati.

"The other new media folks at State sort of look at me as a bit of a laggard," Moran said.