Monday, March 30, 2009

March Lunch: Communications at the DEA and the DEA Museum

What a great lunch! Our friends at the DEA did such a great job with this month's lunch. They were entertaining. Funny. Informative... If you weren't there, you really missed out!

Highlights from Sean Fearns, Museum Director, DEA Museum and Visitors Center:
  • Volunteers: The museum has convinced the "powers that be" at the DEA that it's a benefit if DEA staff (special agents, chemists, etc.) volunteer time during the day at the museum. And TPTB agree. This gives Sean a crazy knowledgeable team of volunteers. (His second pool of volunteers are retired workers.)
  • Funding: Sean has a hard time getting funding for the museum from the DEA. Understandably, $$ go toward the DEA activities versus the museum. He's solved this issue by forming a Foundation that provides financial support for the museum from outside the DEA.
  • Working with the Schools: One way Sean has been able to attract school groups to the museum is by ensuring that the museum -- and the activities related to it -- speaks to the Standards of Learning that teachers much teach to.
  • Media: The museum also has been a great in-roads to new media who otherwise wouldn't write about -- or pay any attention to -- the DEA's activities. More media = more visibility.
Highlights from Garrison Courtney, Director of Public Affairs, Drug Enforcement Agency:
  • They've got an incredibly small team handling public affairs for a huge agency. (Makes it kind of hard for the rest of us to complain about our work load...)
  • The DEA is constantly being asked to participate in documentaries, TV shows, etc. Garrison has a handful of questions he asks, including: 1) How are you funded? (If you aren't funded, they won't work with you.) 2) Let me see your script treatment. (If you don't have one, you're not ready or focused enough for them to work with you.
  • Surging: Garrison's work style is to see where the focus is. For example, he may spend 4 months focusing on documentaries, then 4 months focusing on magazines (based on readership trends), then 4 months with his resources focused on online, etc., etc... It's a smart way to work for a small shop.
  • Garrison's division always includes a special agent. It's a rotating position, but an important one. The special agents Garrison trains during their time with his department become billboards in the field for the importance of public affairs.
Highlights from Special Agent Brian:
  • Brian provided a unique perspective because he's not trained in public affairs, but was assigned to Garrison's division. But his was an important lesson. He said that when he was in the field he was trained to believe that newspaper coverage was bad and they should stay away from the press. Now that he's at headquarters working with Garrison and his team, Brian understands the importance of the press, and he's relaying that message to people in the field. (Lesson: Nothing beats firsthand experience! If you can bring your non-PA folks into your department to work for a few weeks or months, the experience will be invaluable to you and to the non-PA employee!)
I'd love to hear what others who were there had to say about the day... and about what they learned. Post comments below!

P.S. -- I didn't get to take the museum tour. (Handling official CCG business instead.) But for any of you who were on the tour, post below and let us know how cool the museum was!

Monday, March 23, 2009

#socStardom2... a much belated recap

So... a few weeks ago my campus (Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus) hosted #socStardom2, a "fireside chat" with SocMed superstar Dave Evans. I had every intention of writing up about the event the next day... but things at my day job have been crazy busy. (First rule of social media: Don't do a blog if you're not going to update it regularly. And I fail at that rule ALL THE TIME. So if any of you readers are also CCG members and you'd like to submit some guest posts on relevant issues, send them my way. Please!!)

Anyway... some highlights from our chat with Dave. (And no promises that any or all of my "takeaways" are revolutionary. In many cases, they're merely reinforcements of what we should already know.):
  • People today want to be left alone to figure things out on their own. They want to talk with people who've done it, used the product, etc. [MY TAKEAWAY: Cultivate your faithful followers and give them not only a reason to talk you up, but a forum in which to do so.]
  • The social web changes purchasing dynamics. It used to be: be aware – consider – buy. Not, after buy, people form their opinion and talk about the product, which folds them back into the purchasing cycle as they can influence others at the "consider" phase. [MY TAKEAWAY: Your interaction with your customer isn't done after they purchase the product.]
  • Some of today's biggest eAdvocates are those in the 50- to 60-year-old range. This community actively follows legislation, and when anything happens, they are the people who are advocating at the local levels, who show up at courthouses, etc. [MY TAKEAWAY: This generation is important and you'd better have them on your side.]
  • Why enter this realm? If you don’t know what people are saying, how are you going to manage it? Plus, the conversations are going on without you. [MY TAKEAWAY: You can't afford to not be there.]
  • LinkedIn: You'd better have a complete profile. You'd better put thought into your default message. You'd better put thought into who you accept as your friend because everyone you add is a reflection of you.
  • Honesty is key. You must be genuine. 'Nuff said.
  • If you're out there, you'd better be telling people who you are. Richard at Dell always tells people he's with Dell. You can write from the biased POV of being with a company, as long as you tell me you're from that company so I know how to read your blog or your comments. You must take the extra step to ensure transparency. (This one is kind of a subset to the bullet above. And while it seems obvious, we all have heard the stories about people who ignored this rule. And every time, it came back to bite them in the a**.)
  • Make sure your company has a social media policy that prevents the above from happening. (Your SocMed policy should require people disclose who they are when they're in the SocMed world, whether they're there in their personal time or business time.)
  • When trying to convince the C-suite that the social media world is important, always lead with the business objectives and then tie the social media activities to those objectives.
  • Have a personal networking strategy for your use of social media (just like your business has a business strategy for use of social media). Don't use it just to use it. Don't be somewhere because you think you have to be there. Be on the sites where you think you'll benefit.
  • Dave on Twitter: "On Twitter, I'm looking for people who could possibly answer questions I don't know I have yet."
For other primers on #socStardom2, try these sites:
If you're interested in hearing about future #socStardom events -- and there will be future events -- your best bet is to follow us on Twitter at @socStardom. Or let me know and I'll add you to the mailing list for future invites.

-- Robin

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March Lunch: Busted!: A Look Inside the Drug Enforcement Administration

Thursday, March 26, 2009
noon - 1:30 p.m
Drug Enforcement Agency Museum and Visitors Center
700 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
Closest Metro Stop: Pentagon City

Cost: $20

Ever wonder what it would be like providing communications support to the "good guys"? Well, here's your chance. This month, we're being treated to a look inside the Drug Enforcement Administration and its museum... (Bet you didn't know the DEA had a museum, did you? This hidden gem is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year!)

  • Sean Fearns, Director, DEA Museum
  • Garrison Courtney, Director, Public Affairs
  • Special Agent Brian Boyle
RSVP to capitalcommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, March 2, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: Fireside Chat with Social Media Superstar Dave Evans

WHAT: Fireside Chat with Social Media Superstar Dave Evans

WHO? Dave Evans. He writes a social media marketing bi-monthly column for and is the author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day.

WHEN: Monday, March 9 from 6-8 p.m.
WHERE: Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus, 9605 Medical Center Drive, Room 121, Rockville, MD 20850

Read more about why you don't want to miss this opportunity to chat with Dave at the Mayra Ruiz's marketing misfit blog.

You must register to attend this event.