This site addresses public relations and social media for government, associations and nonprofits thus we explore a variety of digital technologies and PR issues to increase our presence and ability to serve.
But nothing I’ve done in 20 years of hosting and producing radio, television and social media for government agencies comes close to the video just released by the Department of Veteran Affairs. See the link below from the Washington Post and watch the video. If you view it without shedding a tear, you’re not fully human.
What’s more impressive is the hiring of Alex Horton, a staunch critic (blogger) of the agency to do the VA’s blogging. Allowing a fox in the henhouse takes courage and I can only assume that the person in charge of public affairs had a sleepless night or two as counterparts told him that he was nuts. By-the-way, the link to the article on Horton’s blog and attached poll indicate overwhelming approval.
The video addresses a recent returnee from war who comes to grips with the realities of treatment. It directly addresses the fear veterans have of the VA and the perception of a faceless, uncaring bureaucracy. The video is supposed to be for employees but it sends a powerful message to vets. My guess is the producers had veterans in mind as their primary audience.
But it’s not the video or Alex’s hiring that strikes you nearly as much as the willingness of the VA to powerfully communicate with their public.
Most government agencies give lip-service to communication and service. We all say we want to “really” connect with the public and we “really” want to serve and then we wallow in the minutia of process rather than the reality of doing it. The forums I read seem devoted to any possible excuse NOT to communicate through an endless debate of the details.
It’s as if we’re scared to death to take some risks. We are improving but we have a long way to go.
In this case, the VA simply decided to communicate and do it powerfully. They did it by casting off fears and making a dedicated effort to communicate with their audience. It’s time for government, associations and nonprofits emulate them.
See the video and article via the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/new-video-tries-to-erase-doubts-at-va/2011/10/11/gIQAC7iRcL_blog.html .