Yesterday’s announcement that the Massachusetts Governor’s office was setting up a Web portal to let taxpayers see how any economic stimulus money that comes to Massachusetts is being spent is just the latest effort by the Patrick Administration to get ahead of the governmental curve on technology.
Things are far from perfect, but the Governor’s office has stepped up its efforts to reach out with personal and office pages for Governor Patrick on Facebook, frequent video updates of Governor’s events on YouTube, and most recently, a stronger social networking presence on Twitter, as @massgovernor.
NECN’s R.D. Sahl put that presence to the test on Twitter last week, and got some interesting results.
(He also DM’d the Governor’s office with this question.)
Typically, the routine for reporters would be this:
Pick up the phone.
Call the Governor’s office.
Tell the nice person on the other end of the phone that you need a comment. In this case, on this report that Gov. Patrick might be considered for HHS secretary. The nice person takes a message.
And then, a few hours later – usually after another phone call, or if you don’t call, about 5 minutes after your story airs – get the response in an email.
Total time: A long wait (at least it always seems long), and a little stress.
Instead, because he used Twitter and the Governor’s Office is social media-savvy (@massgovernor), something different happened. Fifty-eight minutes later this appeared in the public Twitter stream:
OK – I’ll admit now that I didn’t expect a response at all. I’m not sure R.D. did either. But after
Adam Gaffin user oddjob60 posed the question on Universal Hub, I asked R.D. why he did it. He replied, “It was the most direct way to ask the question.”
It was also something anyone could have done – it didn’t have to be R.D., or any journalist. It could have been anyone out there.
It was also far more immediate – total time of the Q and A – 58 minutes, and the audience to the discussion had the answer at the same time as the journalist who asked the question. And anyone could have jumped in for a followup @ reply, if they wished. Adam and a commenter on Universal Hub said it takes the media ‘middleman’ out of the equation. But after thinking about it, I give it a little different spin.
What Twitter did in this situation was make the process wholly transparent. R.D.’s job is to be plugged in to what’s going on in the world, and that’s a valuable role. He’s already all over the web, pulling together the interesting tidbits from all over the globe as part of his job. But instead of being solely a media filter, the Twitter set up lets him be a unfiltered purveyor of thoughtful questions.
Now, it should be noted that you might not get as quick a response. If everyone in Massachusetts who is on Twitter submitted a question to the governor’s office (and odds are we could all come up with one), it would be an avalanche that could take months to deal with. But it can still be a great way to build a connection between the state’s people – and it’s chief executive.
You may want to check out the Governor’s office on Twitter. Whatever you think of his policies – it’s good to know there are a few ways to get a little attention.