[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap] bumped into Paul — a good friend and former colleague of mine — while attending a social media summit at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House earlier today.
Paul and I worked together for a few years at the Pentagon, when I was still active duty in the Air Force and he was a contractor. After my deployment, and after senior leadership realized that an Airman *could* blog about her deployment and not ruin the military, I was put on the team (which included Paul and my girl Moe, and JV, and others) that ultimately wrote the first policy on social media for the Department of Defense.
These days, the both of us work for the same department (but different agencies), so it’s not too unusual to cross paths. This time, it was at an event with a bunch of other federal workers from across the government, all who specialize in the communications, data, and information career fields.
There were three panels of speakers, all professional communicators, who shared some success stories and lessons learned from their sites and organizations. It was a great opportunity to meet others in the field and put some faces with the names I see in emails and various correspondence across the Internets.
My dad has said more than once that he always hesitates before telling people what it is that I do. Of course, he hesitated over the past year when my department was in the news all the time for a certain website and all that jazz.
“Why can’t you work at NASA?” he’s asked. “People know what happens at NASA. I wouldn’t have to explain.”
But he also admits he isn’t really sure how to explain what I do because public affairs specialist can mean a lot of things.
Each time he says that, I remind him he wouldn’t be wrong to just call me a professional communicator. I take official information and I relay it to the public in a variety of ways.
There’s a little bit of marketing. A little bit of PR. A lot of program management. A lot of writing. A lot of multimedia. Sometimes traditional media. And as the summit summarized today, social media and data, too.
All for the government.
And always for the people.
And most of the time, I work with some really awesome people like Paul.
And sometimes I get to take pictures like this one …