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Open Government, Branding & The Fishbowl


Photo by Tristan Ferne via Flickr

In today’s “open,” social media-dominated times, private sector branding and government branding are completely different animals.

  • Private sector branding is about making money through the construction of an image that adds a premium to the real value of the product. Given the raging demand for authenticity, the strategy is to establish an illusion of transparency while maintaining strict control over what appears on the outside.
  • Public sector, i.e. government branding is about actually getting the public involved in what the government is doing, for a lot of reasons. Compliance reduces enforcement expenditure. Partnerships reduce costs, increase efficiency and allow subject matter experts to focus on what they do best. (This is not to mention that the government is not supposed to be an entity distinct from the people but rather one and the same, accountable to them.) The communication imperative therefore is to drive actual transparency, not the illusion of same. The actual water, the real fish and no fishbowl, although from a certain perspective it looks the same.

I’m going to talk about this and more in “Digital Disruption In Government,” an upcoming panel discussion in DC on open government, its challenges and its future. Here is the roster of speakers, moderator and at the background of the event organizer.

Here is a bit of a drilldown into my portion of the talk (you can see all the key takeaways here). Note that in one of those weird-isms that is modern social media life, I’ll be talking about personal opinions, but will also mention things that we’re doing at the National Archives, and the philosophy of open government and social media through which I operate.

  • Life in the trenches of government over the past decade – riding the wave of branding, social media, and now open government
  • The uniquely decentralized and collaborative approach that the National Archives is taking to open government and social media, which we call “unconventional engagement,” and its impact on day-to-day outreach activities
  • How cultural differences have a huge impact on the day-to-day perception and implementation of open government within the agency
  • The neglected critical factor in open government adoption – middle management
  • Jockeying for power and how it helps and hurts the open government cause
  • The difference between good and bad failure, and the conversations around them
  • The “neglected stepchild” of corporate communications, internal communication, and how it absolutely drives open government
If you have the time and won’t flake out at the last minute, join us on December 10. Registration is complementary, but there are only a few seats left.

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