If there’s one thing that’s true about government it is that agencies and lawmakers will find a way to write a rule about everything, and social media is no exception. Always late to the table when it comes to adopting new technology, government agencies have for years been the farthest of fans from Web 2.0 and related tools. They are just now starting to warm up to the tools, but there are plenty of self-imposed obstacles in the way.
So when a small business landing a contract with a government agency needs to hire a writer, the candidate needs to be ready for mind-numbing, frustrating headaches associated with government Web 2.0 implementation.
Keep in mind, it’s not as if government people want to be luddites. They are regular men and women who enjoy the same technology tools in their private lives as anyone else. However, they are also part of a system at work that is very rule-and-regulation driven for a variety of reasons. These include:
- Protection of tax-paid resources,
- Transparency of government actions,
- The need for audit trails,
- Political motivations, and
- Specified legal requirements.
As a result, what seems like a simple new idea worth adopting to a small business and its writers can create agency committees and handbooks of procedure in government just to evaluate the concept.
How to Hire a Writer for Government 2.0 Work
Small businesses signing up writers for creating new government Web 2.0 platforms need to prepare in a couple of ways. These include the following:
- Understand the Culture – Every government agency has a culture. Some like their people to be hard-charging and others want their role to be wallflowers. Some run top-down, others green light actions by committee approval. It’s important for the small business to find out as quickly as possible how a given agency operates to avoid stepping on toes unnecessarily.
- Get an Honest Idea About What’s Expected – While government contract officers will say their agency is opening its arms to social media, it can often mean something else behind the scenes. Some agencies only want their communications people to have access. Others are looking for a limited role in social media that seems beneficial on its face, such as announcing procurement opportunities to potential vendors or developing team synergies. For example, a general water cooler talk room where anything goes is often frowned upon.
- Work Within the Rules – Government agencies have more rules to follow than most other organizations. Small business contractors and their writers who resist or protest the rules are usually ground out by the system. Working within known parameters may seem to take longer, but it can be critical for project success. Buy-in, cooperation, education, and sharing in benefits all work toward gaining support from control points like IT, personnel management, budgeting and upper management.
There are multiple ways government can benefit from Web 2.0, but it will very likely be in a much more structured platform than the private side. This is often due to the nature of managing people in civil service and a political environment. Small businesses and their writers shouldn’t take it personally; accept the culture and find ways to make it work incrementally.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.