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Contacts: Daniel Harsha, Ash Center Associate Director for Communications
Orange County’s Digital Media Transformation Recognized as 2017 Harvard Ash Center Bright Idea in Government
Orange County, FL – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized Orange County Government’s Digital Media Transformation as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas in Government initiative. This year’s cohort includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.
Orange County Government’s digital communications plan, new online Newsroom Media Center, and companion OCFL News app improved news and information distribution to its 1.25 million citizens. The team shares weekly editorial calendars to coordinate traditional media and digital efforts, including news articles, media alerts, photos, videos and graphics for a unique, interesting and engaging Newsroom Media Center.
Public Information Officers also tasked with distributing approved Newsroom articles to community newspapers with relevant audiences as well as sharing articles on social media, capturing constituents who otherwise would not have known about the OCFL Newsroom. Those same stories were also repurposed and presented as short video recaps titled OCFL Updates, which have garnered thousands of views via YouTube. Efforts propelled Newsroom traffic to 710,000 page views – a 575 percent in 2015 – and increased social media engagement by nearly 695 percent.
This foundation helped Orange County Government share information with the community following the Pulse nightclub tragedy on June 12, 2016, and again in early October 2016 when Category 3 Hurricane Matthew impacted Central Florida. The transformation improvements, which facilitated visits to the Pulse and Hurricane Matthew Newsroom update webpages, catapulted the Newsroom Media Center to receiving more than 1 million page views and the County’s overall website had 60 million page views in 2016.
Since being elected in November 2010, Mayor Teresa Jacobs has been a staunch advocate for citizen involvement and continues to champion broader technological advances through pioneering web, mobile applications and social media in Orange County.
“Our digital world moves at light speed and we recognize Orange County’s role in Central Florida’s fast paced interactive communication landscape,” Mayor Jacobs said. “We are deeply committed to reaching a broader demographic through advancements in technology and digital media to maintain and expand traditional and digital public engagement tools for our 1.2 million citizens, our agency partners and 66 million annual visitors.”
Mayor Jacobs was the first sitting mayor in Florida to feature a Social Media Ambassador program in her 2014 State of the County address. Under Mayor Jacobs leadership, and inspired by the success of the initiative, Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup was formed. The program brought together local, technology-savvy online influencers and now operates as a think-tank on emerging technologies, social media and mobile applications.
“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”
This is the fifth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
Please visit the Government Innovators Network at http://innovations.harvard.edu for the full list of Bright Ideas programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.