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From the President

Posted By CDR Christopher O'Neil, USCG, Retired, Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Updated: Sunday, June 30, 2019

Two years ago you elected me to the position of president-elect and on June 21, 2018, I was sworn in as NAGC’s president.  I am honored to have this privilege to serve you, our association and our profession.

As government communicators we find ourselves navigating uncertain and turbulent waters. The 2018 Edelman’s Trust Barometer revealed 20 of 28 global markets are at the distrust level with the U.S. dropping 9 points on the scale in the past year, the steepest decline ever recorded. According to Cision’s 2018 State of the Media Report, 56 percent of survey respondents (members of the media) said fake news is making readers more skeptical of what they read. Amidst allegations of fake news, 78 percent of journalists say that ensuring content is 100 percent accurate is their highest priority. The survey also revealed that journalists’ dependence on public relations professionals hasn’t wavered.

Against this backdrop and in an age of digital information — where opinions, facts and mis- or disinformation spread with the speed of electrons — we see an age of instant outrage and anonymity offered by social media channels and an information environment besieged by political rhetoric.  Because of these and so many other factors, we know there has never been a greater need for government communicators who believe truth is sacred, and whose communications, counsel and actions reflect their collective and steadfast commitment to that ideal.

There has never been a greater need for communicators to serve as the True North of their agencies’ communications to the public.

Journalists and the citizens we serve deserve and rightfully demand the facts — and it’s our duty to provide them in a manner consistent with our Code of Ethics, and the axiom of ‘Maximum Disclosure, Minimum Delay’ bounded by the tenets of Security, Accuracy, Policy and Propriety.

In as much as the condition of the information environment demands excellence in the practice of our profession, the state of our association demands your immediate and direct action.

Our membership numbers have been stagnant for too long. While our Blue Pencil and Gold Screen award has been named one of the 21 most coveted awards in government, we’ve not realized an increase in submissions. Our annual communication school continues to receive overwhelmingly favorable feedback from attendees and enjoys a reputation for excellence in content, yet we aren’t seeing an increase in registrations.

The board of directors continues to carry the lion’s share of work that needs to be done to run the awards program, the annual school and the association itself, because our committees don’t have enough volunteers to carry the load.  These conditions lessen the ability of NAGC to serve as the champion of our profession at a time that begs for a defender of the role and profession of the government communicator.

As your president I am resolute in my commitment to build upon the rich history of our association by growing our membership, increasing member engagement and by serving as an advocate for our profession and for you — the practitioners of our profession. To be fully successful in that endeavor, I need your help.

I need you to continue your pursuit of excellence in government communication and to continue providing counsel to those you serve that reflects your commitment to our Code of Ethics and the best practices of our profession. Take advantage of your membership benefits — access to monthly webinars, discounted registration fees for the annual school and the Blue Pencil and Gold Screen awards and our professional development offerings.  Log in to our website, at least once a week, and join in the discussions and take advantage of the many resources available within the organization. When you’re ready, I want you to pursue an APR or APR+M — one of the newest and biggest benefits of your membership.

I need you to talk about NAGC with your colleagues and ask those who aren’t members, why they haven’t considered joining. The board needs you to volunteer for a NAGC committee, or a project and to follow us on Twitter Fand our other communication channels. The board needs and wants to hear your ideas and to publish your content so your fellow NAGC members may benefit from your perspective, your excellence and your experiences.  By increasing exposure of your expertise, we grow aptitude to meet the challenges of the ever-evolving public sector communications landscape while ensuring a positive and diverse prospective of the profession.

I am excited for the future of our association and for our profession, and, I hope you are too. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together, and I look forward to serving you, our members.

Until next time,

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