A Digital Strategist Reacts to a Teenager’s View on Social Media

Lauren DiPaola

Millennials will soon surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest demographic group, so it’s no surprise that marketers are showering them with attention. With a population of approximately 75 million, Millennials represent almost 25 percent of the U.S. population. By 2017, these digital natives are projected to spend $200 billion annually, and brands are clamoring to understand how best to market to the largest consumer generation in history. 

A recent series of posts by teenager Andrew Watt (Part 1 and Part 2) have garnered industry attention and reignited a dialogue on Millennial use of social media. I was particularly struck by the reaction of social media scholar, Danah Boyd, to Watt’s opinions of the most popular social platforms. While Watt shares his observations on his generation’s use of social media, Boyd’s “old fogey” rebuttal reminds us that broad generalizations can be dangerous. These differing perspectives highlight the fact that Millennials are hardly a homogenous bunch, and the conversation underscores several strategic imperatives for developing an effective content marketing program:

1) Establish a platform strategy - With the list of social platforms growing by the day, it is crucial to define (and redefine) marketing campaign goals and continually reassess social media platforms that resonate with target audiences. Focusing efforts and resources on audience-relevant social platforms helps ensure strategic pay-off and improves the chances of developing a responsive community for your campaign. We must continuously evaluate our approach to ensure we are tracking with our audience interests.

2) Stand out in the crowd - People produce and consume A LOT of content, so social news feeds are crowded. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. People want to be intrigued and entertained, so successful marketing depends on creative campaigns that stand out and immediately captivate your target audience. Rather than creating messages that appeal to “insiders,” use focus groups and market research to help inform your creative approach.

3) Understand content curation - As we already know, content is king. Social platform algorithms help users personalize their feeds to feature content that will generate the most engagement. Community insights either gathered through research or through social platform analytics (like Facebook and Twitter) allow you to tailor your messaging and increase your engagement opportunities. It’s not a one-size fits all space -- unique messaging based on audience interests helps drive campaign success.

We live in an age of almost limitless audience data that affords marketers the opportunity to personalize creative and increase campaign effectiveness. As marketers look to engage an extraordinarily diverse and social media savvy population, it’s never been more important to do your homework and invest in a strategy that affords your brand flexibility to adapt as key audiences – and social trends – evolve. 


5 Things We Heard at Camp

Eben Gilfenbaum

Powell Tate team members attended Roots Camp earlier this month -- a two-day digital advocacy and fundraising “unconference” where the attendees set the agenda and lead the discussions. It’s an opportunity to hear from a diverse group of online campaigners about what’s working, what’s not, and what’s new.

The digital campaign space has matured to the point where there weren’t any major new breakthroughs on the agenda this year. Instead, many of the sessions we attended focused on refining strategies and tactics to mobilize more people more effectively around the causes they care about. Here are five great examples every organization running a campaign could benefit from:

1. Game the Facebook News Feed

Facebook may have slashed the number of followers organizations can reach without paid promotion, but there are still ways to maximize organic reach. According to a Facebook representative who presented, their algorithm monitors the types of content each user engages with — videos vs. photos vs. links — and populates their News Feed with their preferred types.

Organizations can take advantage of this fact by posting the same content in multiple formats. If you’re promoting a video, for example, post the video natively in Facebook like you would normally, but also create a second post using the link to the page on your website where the video resides. That way you’re maximizing your organic reach by catering to the video lovers and the link lovers among your followers.

2. Don’t Ask People to Tell Their Story

Asking supporters to share their story is a tried and true engagement tactic. But using the word “story” can actually decrease engagement because it can make people feel like you’re asking for a fully articulated beginning, middle, and end. Testing has found that asking supporters to share their “experience” performs better because it’s a word people can identify with more easily and doesn’t need to be presented in a formal structure.

3. Find the Right Amount of Creepy

Digital campaigns collect a trove of useful information about their advocates -- from the issues they care about to when and how they are most likely to take action. Organizations are often hesitant to use this information for fear of coming off as creepy. But like with anything involving communications, it’s all about knowing your audience and framing your ask accordingly.

Telling advocates you’ve noticed they’ve taken several actions around a piece of legislation, and should take action on a related issue can be effective with the right audience. But some people might find it too much like big brother. An alternative approach would be to tell advocates you need dedicated people like them to take action. That way you’ve framed what you know about them in a way that feels relevant and natural without being too forced. 

4. Compel, Don’t Just Tell

Whether you want your audience to write letters to their legislators or share a post with their friends, break-through campaigns rely on more than their call to action to get their message across. What sets a great campaign apart is powerful content that excites, inspires, and compels people to action without even needing to ask. Every time you create a piece of content, ask yourself whether your advocates would take action if you removed the call to action. If the answer is no, you may want to rethink your approach.

5. Go Beyond the Base

Any successful grassroots campaign needs to activate the base. Thanks to the democratization of powerful online targeting tools — from native Facebook targeting to turn-key analytics products that mine national voter files — campaigns can remain lean and efficient while branching out to acquire new supporters beyond their core audience. This is especially important for organizations working on popular issues where competition for the attention of the base can be fierce.

The key to successfully expanding beyond the base is to test content among a number of potential audiences and scale up your efforts for those groups that demonstrate interest at a reasonable cost.

A big thank you to Chris Collier, Michelle Crowson, Katie Lancos, Evan Von Leer, and Megan Wright who gave up their weekend to attend Roots Camp and who contributed to this post.


The Long and Short of Social Media Relations

John Files and Amanda Koons

Digital newsrooms are searching for new readers, clicks, shares, likes. In this ever-changing ecosystem, public relations professionals can play a central role as convener: connecting media, informed sources, engaged influencers with story ideas, fresh content, engaging data and information – and perhaps most important, driving traffic to articles, commentary and other news segments.

Social media channels can foster this dynamic exchange; they offer seemingly endless possibilities for aligning our jobs with those in media – ease and immediacy of content sharing, greater use of multimedia assets and the ability to reach larger audiences. And, to be sure, they can be an effective tool for directly engaging journalists. But before you start tweeting pitch ideas at every reporter you follow, consider these basic tips:

  • Build your own brand.
    • A concise and compelling profile can make the difference between being followed and being ignored. To bolster your personal reputation and, ultimately, to give your pitches credibility, your channel should reflect your expertise and insights. Show your wit and personality, but establish yourself as a professional who values genuine relationships and serving as a valuable resource.
  • Research first, outreach second.
    • Everyone reviews reporters’ coverage before sending an email pitch. Likewise, social media can teach us a lot about reporters and their interests. Check out their recent posts and look for interactions with other PR professionals. Most important, read their profile bios – they often describe their background; signal what they care about; and highlight other experience. Use this information to your advantage.
  • Heavy on Twitter, light on Facebook.
    • Many journalists (perhaps most) have active professional profiles on Twitter – they engage with sources, other media and share breaking news and promote stories. Facebook, however, continues to be more commonly used as a social network for friends. That means – in general – if you don’t know a journalist personally, do not friend them on Facebook or spam them on this platform with pitches. (If you have personal relationships with journalists, Facebook can clearly be an effective way to stay engaged and to help foster connections; see #4.)
  • Focus on relationships.
    • Engage journalists on social media before pitching them. Read their posts. Comment and share their articles. Retweet and offer your opinion on issues relevant to their beats or industries and issues they cover. Sustaining a dialogue can be as beneficial as an outright pitch. Remember: media relations is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • After the pitch, follow up.
    • Journalists receive so many @ mentions per day that following up with them is critical. If a journalist has written an article based on your pitch, thank them via social media to cultivate your relationship for future outreach. But don’t stop there. You can help drive traffic to their content – consider using paid budget to support stories by promoting them on owned channels as well as other news and content channels through syndication tools such as Outbrain. 

The bottom line: Social media can be an effective tool for establishing relationships and for pitching journalists. But, at the core, these channels are for building and growing networks. A recent Harvard Business review article found that about 65 percent of writers said they thought it was important for PR and media specialists to establish a personal connection before pitching. Look beyond the pitch toward long-term relationships.


Why PR Is A Pitch: Part 1

Bob Brody

Among the many tactics public relations professionals deploy on behalf of clients is the pitch letter. And in the ideal scenario, a pitch letter e-mailed to a newspaper reporter or TV producer translates directly into news coverage favorable to said clients.

But getting the job done right – well enough to deliver the right results – is hardly easy. A survey recently highlighted in the Harvard Business Review shows as much. It looked at obstacles the pitch letter typically encounters, plus offered clues to achieving success.

To wit, only 11% of the 500-plus digital publishers surveyed “often” wrote a story based on a pitch letter, with 45% doing so “sometimes” and 37% “rarely.” No big surprise there, though. After all, the publishers polled are pitched a lot – at least 20 times a day for 40%, 50 times a day for 11% and more than 100 times a day – wow! – for 8.4%. And most reporters do no more than one to two stories a day.

How to break through this firewall? The survey, conducted by Frac.tl, a digital marketing agency, lends some guidance – and, with it, a welcome dose of hope. The perfect pitch should contain at least one of three elements: 39% of reporters prefer “exclusive research,” 27% “breaking news” and 15% “emotional stories. Pitch notes should also be short: 45% want fewer than 100 words, 43% want fewer than 200 and only 12% want as many as 300.

The survey touches on other valuable points, too. The findings recommend developing personal connections with the media members approached; using newsy, headline-like subject lines; and ensuring that pitch letters are free of grammar and spelling errors. The research even advises about the best time of day to e-mail a pitch.

My take on all this: in a word, Amen. I’m a big believer in the pitch letter. If the pitch letter ran for office, I would vote for it. Over the decades, I’ve written thousands of pitch letters for hundreds of clients. A fair percentage have led to media hits, whether in The New York Times or the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin (circulation 21,000).

Tomorrow, based on my own experience, I’ll suggest my own three quick tips about the pitch letter.


How to Use Twitter, by Twitter

Danny Wein

Exciting news: Twitter just released their Government and Elections Handbook!

What, you’re not as thrilled as I am? You might be under the impression, based on the title, that this handbook is only relevant for public affairs representatives or politicians, but you’d be wrong on that account. While it is primarily designed for use by political campaigns, I’d venture to say it is the most thorough and up-to-date outline of every feature on Twitter and does an absolutely outstanding job of highlighting best practices in a manner that is concise and digestible for people completely unfamiliar with the platform. Think of it as the “Toy Story” of digital handbooks: it’s written from a perspective that kids (non-digital natives) can enjoy, but has no shortage of dialogue peppered in throughout to strongly appeal to adults (digital professionals).

The handbook runs 137 pages and recommends best practices on sections like:

  • "Twitter 101"
  • Influencer engagement
  • Content strategies
  • Advanced Twitter tools
  • Tracking and measurement

The handbook breaks down particularly successful campaigns to explain what made them ‘pop’ and includes detailed “How To’s” for many of the newest features. The handbook features helpful data benchmarks (previously proprietary) that you can use to compare with your own -- or your clients' -- Twitter activity (ex: Tweets with hashtags indicate a 30% boost in retweets from verified accounts). While this doesn’t take a very deep dive into any particular section (see: analytics), I suspect that it will function as an extremely useful resource, both for us and our clients.

Whether you're a digital strategist or you're just getting the hang of hashtags, I’d strongly encourage you to spend some time reading through this — kill a tree and print it out, or be more eco-friendly and download it. It’s clear that Twitter’s @Gov team put an extraordinary amount of effort into this handbook, and I can’t wait to dive into it myself.


The Missing Piece in Digital Political Advocacy

Michael Connery

Photo by Keith Ivey

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen the rise of a very particular type of mass-political participation enabled by digital technology. Some deride it as slacktivism/clicktivism, while others consider it a vital tool in the digital advocate toolbox and the first step in building a ladder of engagement that organizations can build over time.

Whichever side you are on in that debate, it’s hard to see how these tools have delivered on a more aspirational version of American democracy.

This is why I was skeptical when I read that Sean Parker (of Napster and Facebook fame), with the help of some big names in tech and politics, is ramping up to launch Brigade — a startup with $9 million in the bank and a deep bench of civic tech heavy hitters —to “restore you, the voter, to the center of our democracy.” Count me as one of many people rooting for Brigade to succeed. But right now I wouldn’t bet on it. Not because they lack experience, resources, or anything so obvious. Rather, like so many of the talented civic-minded entrepreneurs before them, Brigade is too narrowly focused on a mature market and an audience that already has too many similar tools at their disposal.

In our rush to “empower” people through digital tools, we’ve forgotten that a real digital revolution in democracy requires more than arming citizens with tools for action. We need to invest as much effort into equipping our leaders and the people who run our government day-to-day with the tools to listen and respond to the feedback of citizens as we have building up our own capacity to shout at our leaders.

If you can stick with me for a few minutes of civic tech wonkery, I’ll explain why in this essay:

Better Listening Through Civic Technology

It’s a long one, but I hope you’ll give it a read.


How Federal Agencies Can Be Effective on Social Media

Kerry Humphrey

Jim Holland, from our parent company Weber Shandwick, recently wrote a great piece for Government Executive about how government agencies can effectively communicate using social channels.

It’s a great read because it maps out four key elements of an integrated social marketing or public education campaign:

  • Increase the likelihood of change by involving our social networks
  • Break through the clutter with a powerful and emotional platform
  • Activate a diverse array of influencers and keep them engaged with content
  • Surround your audience with both traditional and digital tactics

As Jim affirms, following these steps can help government agencies successfully leverage today’s digital communications tools to drive action and impact.


PTDefense Weekly Tweet Chat Kicks Off

Greg McCarthy

Last week we kicked off our new series of PTDefense Tweet Chats in which each Friday we invite a defense or national security influencer to engage with our network on current issues. Our inaugural guest, PJ Crowley, former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and State Department spokesman, answered an array of questions ranging from the Iranian presidential elections to Hillary Clinton’s recent entrance into the Twitter world.

Check out highlights of the conversation below or click here to view the whole conversation with PJ Crowley.

We are looking forward to this week’s chat with Kate Brannen, a defense reporter for Politico PRO, on Friday, June 21. If you would like to ask Kate a question or participate in future chats, please tweet your questions to @PTDefense using #PTDefense.


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About Time to Start Pitching on Twitter

Rachel Ryan

“Are they even called ‘journalists’ anymore,” lamented a veteran New York Times reporter in a brainstorming meeting at Powell Tate.

“Bloggers,” I quipped in response.

While it is certainly true that traditional beat reporters and journalists are still around, it’s hardly news that journalism itself is changing, drastically. Just as reporters, journalists and the fledgling blogger must respond to the industry’s paradigm shifts, so too must communications professionals.

Flacks and hacks have long since grown accustomed to email superseding the phone for everything from introductions to story pitches. However, recently, a new medium has started to usurp even email when it comes to both story mining and story pitching: Twitter.

I’m not talking about tweeting news stories or following beat reporters to include in the morning’s media monitor. After all, communications pros have been doing that since Twitter’s inception, back in the prelapsarian days of 2007. I’m talking about tweeting a press release directly to a reporter rather than disseminating an email blast, followed by a phone call that predictably goes straight to voicemail.

Yes, everyone and their mother uses Twitter nowadays, but reporters especially so.

“When it comes to grabbing a reporter’s attention, tweeting would probably be more effective than a mass email blast,” affirmed a DC beat reporter.

“I bring my iPad to work purely so that I can have TweetDeck open on it all day,” admitted another reporter at The Hill.

“I would say that Twitter is a big part of my news consumption habits,” confirmed yet another reporter at a similarly popular Beltway pub. “When I was a blogger doing more aggregation, I would constantly see interesting things on Twitter that I would then blatantly aggregate.”

Put simply, pitching via Twitter works because it is what reporters consider their primary resource for everything from content to connections. They need it. Arguably, reporters are even more reliant on Twitter these days than email, and certainly more so than the telephone.

“What would you say if someone said you couldn't use twitter for a week?” I asked Sahil Kapur, a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

“It'd be a nuisance because it's useful for work,” said Kapur. “It's usually my first source of breaking news.”


TMI? No such thing, according to new social media disclosure guidelines

Julie Tarallo

SEC headquarters, Washington, DC. Flickr creative common photo by scot*eric

Transparency is key for users who communicate via social media channels, according to new guidelines released by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Last week, the SEC updated its disclosure rules for how companies share financial information through social media. The latest guidelines say companies are free to use social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate financial information – as long as they alert investors first.

By sharing the social media strategy with investors, companies can ensure they comply with Regulation Fair Disclosure, which requires businesses to publish material information to all investors at the same time.

Similarly, the FTC recently updated its dot com disclosure rules for how advertisers communicate via social media. For the most part, the rules are the same as they have always been: social media users who promote a product, service or campaign must disclose any financial relationship they - or their employer - have with the brand they are touting.

However, the new rules now require all disclosures to be “clear and conspicuous”; that is, stated in clear and concise language, reasonably close to the advertisement, in every promotional social media post.

For example, an acceptable disclosure might look like:

(Source: Social Media Today)

The takeaway? Social media is a powerful communications vehicle. But like any good communications strategy, it’s best to be clear, honest, and transparent. And when in doubt, check with a legal expert before tweeting, posting, or pinning about anything in which you or your company has a financial stake.


Novel approach to social media guidelines

Lance Morgan

In her column this weekend, the public editor of the New York Times paraphrased the paper's social media guidelines for its staff and freelancers.

Nine words.

Simple and elegant.

"Think first and remember that you represent The Times."

A novel approach, worth emulating.


It’s the message that counts

David Leavitt

Several team members from Powell Tate attended the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. They'll be sharing their insights from the festival here on this blog.

Are you spending your time focusing on getting Facebook likes? Or working overtime to optimize your search engine results?

Feel free to stop.

From a social engagement perspective, the theme at South By Southwest was for organizations to focus on making their online presences as useful as possible for their audiences. The rest, said panelist after panelist, will follow.

For example, rather than focus on getting likes, dedicate your time to making your content likeable. Rather than sweating over your SEO efforts, make sure your content is compelling enough for people to engage with it, share it and link to it.

At his keynote address, Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal discussed his effort to raise money for a museum honoring inventor Nikola Tesla, an online fundraising project that has brought in over $1.3 million. Was it me, Inman asked rhetorically? Was it the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform? Inman modestly declared that in fact the fundraising was successful because of Nikola Tesla himself and his compelling story.

The lesson? Find and create and compelling content first, worry about how to dress it up and market it second. 


The Year of eSports

Steven Place

Six-figure contracts, corporate sponsorships and arenas pack with fans is hardly the image most people associate with video games.

But eSports has changed that. 

While hardly a household name, electronic sports — or eSports — are quietly dismantling the limitations of traditional entertainment on a global scale. Propelled by advancements in affordable video streaming technology, game titles such as Starcraft II and League of Legends have attracted fans from around the world that tune in to watch their favorite players compete against each other.

This year, for Social Media Week, we hosted and moderated a panel aimed at exploring the technology and influences that lead to the recent rise of eSports. Our panelists included eSports journalist, Rod Breslau of GameSpot and CBS Interactive, Deric Ortiz of One Nation of Gamers, Reed Albers of the Entertainment Software Association (client), and Ben Goldhaber of Twitch.tv.

To our knowledge, this was the first Social Media Week panel about professional gaming, so it was a great opportunity to introduce attendees to a subject most have never heard of.

Here are a few fascinating takeaways that emerged from our panel discussion:

  • Twitch.tv receives 25 million unique visitors and 300 million views each month.
  • The largest eSports event to date garnered over 1 million concurrent viewers and over 8 million unique viewers total.
  • Tournaments are viewed in over 157 countries.
  • The average Twitch.tv viewer consumes 90 minutes of content each day.
  • Over 8,000 eSports enthusiast gathered in bars across the United States last year to watch tournaments.

Will big brands follow fans?

The numbers don’t lie; there is a huge eSports audience waiting to be engaged.

Companies like Intel and Redbull have recognized this growth and have established deep roots in the eSports community — each company even hold their own branded eSports tournaments. Computer memory giant, Kingston, and electronic accessory manufacturer, Logitech, have also found an engaging niche of customers in the eSports community. These companies have not traditionally had a mainstream outlet to spotlight their products, but eSports has provided these brands a unique opportunity to reach consumers. As eSports gains momentum, more will certainly follow.

Where are the fans?

Aside from live events, video streaming is the primary medium on which eSports fans consume media. Twitch.tv, the most popular streaming platform for eSports games, is primarily responsible to the breakneck growth of professional gaming worldwide. Within their streaming platform, Twitch.tv has thoughtfully integrated a robust advertising platform that enables users to essentially create their own media network. With a deep bench of advertising partners, Twitch.tv is able to drive significant results for brands that utilize their platform and for stream hosts that provide content for their platform. Popular streams can earn up to six figures a year.

Is eSports a fad?

Perhaps. Game titles may shift over time, but fundamentally the proliferation of eSports has forged a new digital distribution model for entertainment that will continue to challenge traditional mediums.


Agile Advocacy – Best Practices for Running Your Social Media Advocacy Campaign

Michael Connery

Running a measurably successful advocacy campaign on social media is hard. Tactics, technologies and platforms are changing rapidly, and many nonprofits and organizations are still chasing that elusive ROI. So how can advocacy organizations stay ahead of the technology curve, break through the noise to engage supporters and – most importantly – activate them when it matters most?

That’s the question panelists tackled at our Agile Advocacy event last week. Hosted by Powell Tate as part of Social Media Week DC, the event featured Deepa Kunapuli, curator for Upworthy; Garth Moore, the ONE Campaign’s US Digital Director, and Lauren Balog Wright from Powell Tate. Kaiya Waddell of Facebook’s Policy and Advocacy department moderated the panel.

A packed house of advocacy professionals attended the event, and conversation focused on three main pillars that support a successful social media advocacy campaign: content creation and curation, community management and paid media. Below are just a few of the lessons learned from our panelists that can help you run a successful social media advocacy campaign (without an Obama-sized budget).

Create a Curiosity Gap With Your Audience: All the panelists talked about creating just enough of a teaser in your content on social platforms to convince a reader to take the next step. Whether you want a supporter to take action or watch a video to learn more, getting them to make that first click is the most important thing your social content can do. At UpWorthy, creating that curiosity gap is baked into their content curation process: curators are required to write 25 draft headlines and share them with a larger team to determine the winner. This process – while sometimes painful – is the secret sauce behind Upworthy’s success in making quality content go viral.

Develop a relationship with your community. The ONE Campaign has hundreds of thousands of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and an ambitious goal of reaching one million supporters on both platforms by the end of this year. How do they keep their base engaged and activate them for major legislative battles? An empowered community manager is behind the computer on a daily basis responding to comments and tweets with enough editorial freedom to develop an authentic voice and capitalize on real-time happenings in the media.

Paid is important, but requires great content. Based her work This is Personal, a campaign for The National Women’s Law Center, Lauren Balog stressed that paid media is increasingly the cost of admission if you want to cut through the clutter of the newsfeed and run a large scale campaign. But throwing dollars behind something doesn’t guarantee ROI if you don’t have good quality content. Design should lead content creation – not simply be an after thought. When you have high quality content, paid media is a very effective way to boost your acquisition and engagement levels. With paid media increasingly appearing contextually in-stream, it’s also a great way to build affinity with your fans. 

Garth Moore was also quick to note that paid media scales. You don’t need an Obama sized budget to reap benefits from paid support. Even a paid program of a few hundred dollars a month can show a good return on investment if used wisely.

Use the right metrics. A lot of organizations think that by simply having a lot of fans or followers, they will automatically see high engagement numbers across platforms. But that’s not true. In order to have a successful fan base on Facebook, you need to make sure you’re recruiting the right fans to your page, and feeding them the types of actions or content that will compel them to click or share. Fans alone is a vanity metric. If you are acquiring fans for their own sake, and those fans are not taking actions that ladder up to your organizations goals, you should reevaluate whether you are acquiring the right people or creating the kind of content that engages your community.


Making the District digital

Lauren Klein

DC is really popular. Just this year alone, it’s at the top of lists about being the most popular place to move and the best food scene in the country, and hosts a booming real estate market that barely took a plunge when the rest of the country’s economy spiraled out of control. But as the city develops, the local government has not kept pace with the ability to integrate technology and social media solutions to provide better information and communication between city officials and residents.

Panelists from our Digital District Social Media Week session last week implied that city leaders, as well as the private sector, could do a lot more to fill that need. The panel was part of a day-long series of Social Media Week events Powell Tate hosted to address a range of topics and trends, such as the importance of agile advocacy and the evolution of eSports.

The Digital District roundtable discussion brought together a range of perspectives including John Lisle, who managed social media for DDOT and now DC Water; Tiffany Bridge, a local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and co-founder of We Love DC; local bloggers, like David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington and Tom Cochran from Ghosts of DC; and finally Brandon Jenkins of Fundrise to represent the private sector.

Though the conversation touched on a gamut of issues like concerns about the digital divide, and the need for an overhaul of infrastructure, what became obvious was the fundamental need for both better leadership in local government to embrace the risks as well as the benefits of implementing digital communications strategies, as well as a need for the private sector to think outside of the box to find solutions to local needs.

Creating an environment where the government can feature its strengths by freeing up public data, while also incentivizing the private sector to use that information to create new services, will be an important foundation to lay in order to help the city with this transition.

Ultimately, we hope this is just the beginning of a conversation about how to better support both sides of the equation in order to make DC a truly digital district. Because, even if you can’t make it to the local zoning board meeting, doesn’t mean you don’t want to know what’s going on. 


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