The Golden Post Awards is the first awards program for U.S. state and local government social media efforts!
Nomination Deadline: Friday, Feb. 20, 2015
Public Voting: Feb. 26 – March 6, 2015
Finalists Announced: Thursday, March 12, 2015
Winners Named: GSMCON Event, Thursday, April 30, 2015
Joseph Kostecki, South Toms River Borough
In the first year, he has upgraded technology in a Borough that did not have an answering machine, to a fully-integrated virtual server for all departments, digitized records, installed Google Government so employees can access government records from outside the office and at any time, created NIXLE accounts for emergency purposes, personally created and maintains a Wordpress website, social media accounts, and personally created a smartphone application that only cost the Borough $1,000 ; as opposed to standard smartphone applications that cost upwards of $20,000.00. The smartphone app allows for one-touch 9-1-1, and a feature entitled, "Report It" which allows residents to use their smartphone to immediately report issues such as potholes, downed trees, or other non-emergency enforcement problems. Other features allow for calendar reminders for garbage, recycling and bulk pick-up. A new feature will greater facilitate Bulk Garbage pick-ups by allowing residents to request a Bulk pickup through the application, and take a picture to allow Public Works to ensure the request is compliant.
Wanda Willis, Harrisonburg Fire Department
Wanda Willis goes above and beyond when managing the Harrisonburg Fire Department (HFD) and Central Shenandoah Valley Safe Kids Coalition social media pages. Wanda was quick to add HFD to Facebook when Facebook first offered the pages feature in 2009. She recognized that Facebook would be an excellent opportunity to reach the community with safety tips and other happenings in the Fire Department and the Safe Kids page. Her posts on the HFD page are some of the most engaging posts out of all of the City of Harrisonburg accounts. Wanda wants to keep the community (and beyond) informed on safety tips and she is able to do so with reminders related to what is happening in the news, whether it be fires, weather warnings, prevention, or area events. She makes the extra effort in responding to users comments and in a very relatable and timely manner. The pages she manages continue to see more and more followers and an expanding audience. She also is a great representation of HFD and Safe Kids and all of the important services they provide to our community.
*URLs are recent posts that had a lot of reach/engagement.
Tom Brazelton, City of Ankeny Iowa
Since joining the City of Ankeny as a Web Communications Specialist in 2010, Tom Brazelton has leveraged his command of social media expertise to make the City of Ankeny the largest local government presence in the state of Iowa. Ankeny has larger percentage of followers per-resident than several larger Iowa communities combined! With a population of 51,567 (2013 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau), Tom has grown the City of Ankeny's Facebook page by 518% since 2010, more than doubling the number of followers annually. On Twitter, the growth is even larger - 790% total growth since 2010, an annual average growth of 158%. Tom has achieved this growth by developing a friendly, informative and consistent tone that Ankeny residents know they can trust. Whether it's a snow emergency, employment opportunities or the latest Parks and Recreation program, Ankeny residents turn to the City of Ankeny's social media pages first. According to our most recent citizen survey, over 90% of Ankeny residents have access to the internet with over 72% of them utilizing social media on a regular basis. Tom has positioned the City where our residents expect us to be. In 2012, Tom's efforts were recognized by the City-Council Communications & Marketing Association at their 2012 Savvy Awards. In response to recent turnover on the city council and facing a budget shortfall, Tom spearheaded a Facebook campaign called the Virtual Town Hall to inform residents of the challenges faced by council while simultaneously gathering feedback from residents to help guide their decision making. Demographically, Ankeny is a suburb made up largely of working men and women in their mid-30s. Many of them have work or family commitments that prevent them from regularly attending city council meetings. The Virtual Town Hall was a way to establish a digital council meeting that was available when it was most convenient for the individual. As a results, more individuals participated with comments online than attended in-person for budget workshop and meeting combined! 3CMA recognized this effort by awarding Tom Runner-Up in the category of Citizen Participation and First Place in the Category of Best Use of Social Media. Said the judges, A letter-perfect presentation that would allow any community to emulate the Virtual Town Hall deployed to engage residents in the essential work of annual budget development. Ankeny delivers a 5-star performance. In addition to Tom's work on Facebook and Twitter, he has also made strides toward enhancing the City's YouTube account - having personally filmed and edited over 35 promotional and educational videos resulting in over 44,000 views! In 2014, Tom was recognized by the Des Moines Social Media Club in their first-annual Hashies Award in the category of Best Use of Video for his 18-video community showcase series called "Wednesday Walkabout." The campaign was designed to familiarize old and new residents of Ankeny alike with the small things that make Ankeny a great place to live. Tom is a multi-disciplined communicator, designer and strategist who has helped to elevate the City of Ankeny as a thought leader in the realm of social media marketing among government agencies in Iowa. For these reasons, he should be recognized as GMSCON's Top Government Social Media Leader (non-elected staff).
Chief Billy Grogan, Dunwoody Police Department
Chief Grogan had the great opportunity to start the Dunwoody Police Department from scratch in 2009. He recognized how important using social media would be for the department so Twitter was used from the beginning followed soon after by Facebook and YouTube. Chief Grogan has been a tireless advocate for the department's use of social media and for law enforcement's use of social media across the country. Today, the Dunwoody Police Department has a robust social media program with a tremendous amount of interaction with their community using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram & Vine. Over 7,000 people follow the department on Twitter and over 8,600 people like their Facebook page. Chief Grogan has lectured locally and nationally on the benefits of law enforcement agencies using social media and has consulted with many departments helping them establish and expand their social media programs. Chief Grogan has blogged for the IACP Social Media site since it began. Chief Grogan has his own Twitter account @ChiefGrogan with over 2,000 followers.
Chad Wiebesick, Michigan Economic Development Corp
Chad has been instrumental in launching and developing the strategy and direction of the popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign, ranked among the top ten travel destinations worldwide for its social media efforts. His work and contributions have earned industry recognition. He is a recipient of Online Media & Marketing Magazine's "America's Top 20 Interactive Media Rising Stars" and a national finalist in Media Magazine's "Creative Media Awards" competition. He is a blogger and published writer, contributing content to books such as "Visual Social Media Marketing" and "Economic Development Marketing 2nd Edition" as well as writing articles for Social Media Today, Website Magazine, Ragan's PR Daily and more. Chad has spoken around the world at numerous conferences including Social Media Tourism Symposium in Australia, Search Engine Strategies, International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators, Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism, and Dreamforce, the world's largest software conference with 130,000 attendees from 65 countries. He also presented internationally at India's first-ever conference for social media in the travel industry, the International Conference on Travel Technology India. He is a founding member of the Social Media Association of Michigan and a past President of the Ann Arbor Ad Club, a chapter of the American Advertising Federation, where under his leadership the organization won 2nd Place for "National Club Achievement of the Year" for Programs.
Irene Spanos, Oakland County Michigan
Irene Spanos is the driving force behind Oakland County's Economic Development and Community Affairs (EDCA) department's use of social media. She knows the value of using social media as a business tool and she successfully uses it to build relationships that translate into real world connections that provide a high return on investment for EDCA. The department has a growing social media presence and their staff uses it to meet their business goals. Social media has been pivotal in their recent launch of Oakland County's tech248 program to harness the power of the County's 2,000 tech firms through networking events and branding initiatives. The County's online art competition, MI Great Artist, uses social media to solicit entries and promote public voting. EDCA has a YouTube Channel to highlight videos on workforce development services, community housing programs, companies that have benefited from the County's SBA loan program, and international business that have made Oakland County their home. Many new companies that have expanded or relocated to Oakland County started with a social media connection on LinkedIn or Twitter. Irene, specifically, has been very successful using her personal accounts to promote Oakland County as a great place to live, work, play and raise a family. With a mix of LinkedIn and Twitter she's become one of the County's largest brand advocates by being authentic, energetic, engaging, educating, and approachable. Irene has strategically connected with over 6,000 people on LinkedIn, establishing meaningful connections and building relationships to attract businesses to Oakland County and promote our programs. Specifically, she has had a lot of success recruiting candidates for the Oakland County Executive Elite 40 Under 40 program, building the Medical Main Street network and securing attendees for their various events, driving traffic to their skilled trades website MITradeSchool.org, and coordinating meet ups with LinkedIn connections in the real-world. Irene has become a thought leader throughout the world on economic development with social media. Her dynamic use of social media helps her to lead the EDCA department's use of it as well, with tremendous results for Oakland County's citizen engagement while delivering a real-world return on investment. Please visit Irene's LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to see her in action! You can also visit www.AdvantageOakland.com for more information on EDCA and the various programs listed throughout this nomination.
Tiffany Norton, Town of Summerville, South Carolina
Prior to Tiffany Norton joining the Town of Summerville staff the town did not have a presence on social media. In only 11 months Tiffany has completely redesigned the town's website and has increased citizen's engagement by more than 100%. I included the URL (www.Summerville.SC.US) to the towns website so that you can see all eight of the social media accounts that Tiffany uses on a daily bases to promote the activities and opportunities in and throughout the Town of Summerville. Tiffany does it all, from writing content, to getting live action shots from around town to keep the residents informed to tweeting live coverage of council meetings. Tiffany also created the town's social media policy that was approved by Town Council and adopted as part of the town's employee handbook. Tiffany also began utilizing archive social to ensure the town remained in public records compliance. When it comes to social media she is a master at her craft. She's creative and always finds great news ways to keep the residents engaged. Knowing that sometimes town news is boring Tiffany keeps the residents engaged with fun weekly posts like Love your Sweet Tea Selfie that lets residents and businesses get in on the fun of living in the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea". Other great just for fun weekly posts are Motivational Monday's and Throwback Thursdays. Tiffany recognizes that not everyone is on Facebook and Twitter. That is why the town has eight social media accounts to stay connected with the residents on their social media platform of choice. Tiffany Norton has single handedly brought the Town of Summerville into the 21st Century.
Cheryl Bledsoe, CRESA/ Clackamas County 9-1-1 (CCOM)
If there was ever anyone that was a vision for social media, it would be Cheryl Bledsoe. In fact, I am sure if you looked up "Social Media Guru" in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Cheryl. Over the past several years, Cheryl has tirelessly engaged, advocated for, challenged, and taught about how Social Media can be used in Emergency Situations. Cheryl has been a leader and is very well respected not only locally, but nationally and internationally for her role in moving forward the use of Social Media in Emergency Management. She has had an active voice in teaching and leading other in the use and development from policy, to platforms. From teaching her staff, to leading discussions with policy members, Cheryl has been an advocate of the importance in using social media, for accurate situational awareness to building national credentialed teams to support incidents anywhere. Cheryl truly is a matriarch of social Media use in Emergency Management. From her early involvement in #SMEMchat, writing about its use at SM4EM.org to leading fun "training missions" during the past several SuperBowls, Cheryl has continues to think of ways to push the limits to challenge peers. All you have to do is take a look at her Twitter handle, @CherylBle to see the impact she has on social media. Cheryl's passion and energy for this subject is contagious, and it doesn't matter if she is talking with first time users, teaching a class of law enforcement officials, or leading the conversation about VOST ( Virtual Operations Support Teams), her enthusiasm and knowledge demands your attention. Cheryl has been involved in so many ways in using social media in emergency management. From creating #30Days30Ways to engage and change preparedness actions, to supporting law enforcement, and public health, to monitor situations regarding potentially highly controversial subjects and issues within the community. By being a trusted source and expert in the field, Cheryl's knowledge and expertise has been sought after numerous times. Her leadership in the field has Cheryl listed as a hot commodity when it it come to teaching on the subject nationally, and has also has gotten her invited more than once to Washington D.C. for the Presidents Technology summit. I met Cheryl through Social Media while I was a new Emergency Manager in Montana. She was gracious, and encouraging as she made time and shared resources with me, as I worked to improve the Emergency Management Department I oversaw there. For a couple years we engaged through social media, in helping me improve and become a better coordinator to my own county. I am grateful to count her as a respected peer and sounding board to this day. Cheryl truly is the vision of what this award entails. Her dedication, enthusiasm, energy, knowledge, level headed thinking, and passion makes her the perfect choice for this prestigious award. I am happy and honored to nominate my friend and mentor Cheryl Bledsoe for the Top Government Social Media Leader (Non-elected) !!
Christina McGoldrick, City of Santa Clarita
I would like to nominate Christina McGoldrick for Top Government Social Media Leader. In just one year, she has exponentially increased engagement and followers across all of the City of Santa Clarita's social media platforms. Her work has increased government transparency, helped to humanize City staff, and has taken our social media presence to the next level. Notable results: - The City of Santa Clarita's Facebook account consistently has a higher engagement rate than any other benchmark City (City of LA, City of Long Beach, City of Glendale, City of Burbank, City of Palmdale) - She has infused humor where possible and boosted creativity on the City's social media accounts - which has improved engagement as a result. - She stays aware of trends, consistently explores tactics and launches campaigns to reach residents. For example, using tweet cards, funny gifs, and running Twitter campaigns for website conversions and engagement; creating Facebook ads, promoted page campaigns and boosted posts, while consistently interacting with residents to answer questions and report feedback to staff; and using clever phrasing and popular hashtags, along with compelling photos, to improve the City's Instagram account. In just over one year, her efforts resulted in the following: - Exponentially increased Instagram followers from 96 to 812 - in just one year, without advertising.- Increased Twitter followers by 65% - from 5,225 in November 2013 to 8,626 in January 2015.- Increased Facebook likes by 55% in one year, from 5,000 in November 2013 to 7,700 in November 2014. - Increased Facebook engagement by 190 percent, on average for 2103 compared to 2014.
David Westrick, Hollister Police Department
Chief of Police David Westrick started his career in communicating the public as a patrol officer when he was assigned as Public Information Officer early in his career. He continued his communication and interaction with the public through bulletin boards in the early 1990's and then with the increased technology he started using social media in 2008 by signing up with Facebook. In 2009 he created Hollister Police Department's and Hollister Police Departments Animal Care & Services (Hollister, CA) Facebook pages. Later that year (then Sergeant Westrick) Chief Westrick signed up Hollister Police Department for Nixle.com and he created Hollister Police Departments Twitter page. Chief Westrick starting using Nixle to push out press releases, crime statistics, public information and general information to both Facebook and Twitter. Chief Westrick has used social media as it was intended; to connect with people in his community. He was actually promoted to Chief of Police in 2013. At his swearing in ceremony, he announced that he had created an entire online community for the City of Hollister on Facebook he called "Hollister Community Watch". With a parent page called Hollister Community Watch and four additional pages for each District in the city, it allows the citizens of Hollister to interact with each Districts City Council Person and the Chief Westrick himself. Localized problems are easily solved with this online community because it allows reporting of these issues to go directly to the decision makers that represent each of these Districts. He added this entire online community to his Nixle cadre and pushes his press releases, crime statistics, public information and general information through this service. In 2012 Chief Westrick also joined an online community called Hollister Neighborhood Watch on Facebook. When he signed up there were only around 200 members of the group. As of today, there are over 7,300 members in Hollister Neighborhood Watch. Chief Westrick has used this platform to interact with the citizens of the City of Hollister in a very positive and proactive way. Because the public has grown to trust and appreciate Chief Westricks interaction with the public with Social Media, there have been countless instances where major crimes have been solved in minutes rather than the traditional investigative techniques that take a much longer time. In 2013 at the scene of a homicide, multiple anonymous witnesses contacted Chief Westrick on social media and provided the name, address and location of a homicide suspect, prior to the detectives arriving to the crime scene. In September of 2013, Chief Westrick partnered with MYPD, a smartphone application which utilizes smartphone technology and geo tagging to help report and solve crimes. MYPD also pushes information out to Twitter and provides feeds for Nixle, Facebook and many other social media platforms. Through this app, Chief Westrick has increased interaction with the public through their smartphones combined with the ease of use through social media platforms. In April 2014 Chief Westrick was recognized by WeTip as the National Chief of Police of the Year for 2014. WeTip is a National Anonymous Tip Service. Chief Westrick funded not only the City of Hollister, but also the entire County of San Benito for the WeTip Tip line. WeTip utilizes Facebook and smartphone technology to protect the anonymity of crime witnesses that want to assist in investigations with law enforcement agencies. I wish to submit a nomination for Chief David Westrick of the Hollister Police Department for the Top Government Social Media Leader. Chief Westrick also has mentored and helped many law enforcement agencies start their own social media pages, programs and online communities. Chief Westrick started over 60 Facebook Neighborhood Watch Groups for his regions Cities and Counties, with now thousands of members in each of these groups. The goal being; that these citizens can interact with their areas law enforcement and help them make their cities and counties safer with that communication and interaction. Chief Westrick is a model leader and public servant and I think deserving of this recognition.
Heidi Heleniak, Borough of Dunellen, NJ
Dunellen is a small municipality in Central New Jersey, 1 square ml. in size with a population of approximately 7,200 residents. Our borough's leadership are stretched with responsibilities, so there isn't an official "communications" staff member charged with keeping the community informed. As a resident of Dunellen for more than 16 years - this has been a frustration of mine. Heidi Heleniak, a resident, community member, and small business owner in town took the initiative to create a website, Dunellen411 and information website, as well as a Facebook and Twitter presence. Within less than 2 years, she has created an online presence for our borough that has not only kept us informed about critical municipal information, but encourages engages in borough activities. She responds to residents questions, gathers information, and works at keeping us 'in the loop', If I need to know what is going on - I know I have a trusted source. Heidi is a one person show that has done a great job in creating a tighter sense of community through her social efforts.
William Goddard (RET.) Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services
Chief Goddard served as the leader of Howard County Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) for six years before his retirement in November 2014. In his role, he not only encouraged the use of social media in the public sector but also helped blaze the trail for other fire departments around the country. Under his leadership, he worked to hire the department's first full-time Public Information Officer and created roles in the department focused specifically on digital strategy. Early on, he embraced the idea of transparency to the public through social media. He oversaw the creation of a Facebook page that has grown to nearly 8000 fans in just 2 1/2 years as well as a departmental Twitter account, now with over 7000 followers. He not only worked to create and implement a department-wide social media policy and training but also kept current of social media trends in the news. As a result, he was asked to present at the IAFC New Fire Chief Symposium on Social Media & Multiple Generations, a presentation aimed at helping close the generational gap to better understand how social media has become part of our culture. With more than 40 years of experience in the fire service in a variety of agencies and roles, Chief Goddard is one of the most respected leaders of our time. Even before he became a student of social media best practices, he earned a reputation for excellence and a strategic vision. His expertise was sought after on a number of panels throughout the public safety industry and he continues to be a keen advocate for using social media to connect powerfully. Realizing the power of social media he used his presence strategically as an industry expert, a curator of content, a public figure that would extend condolences or congratulations on behalf of the entire Department. Through his presence, he also added the appropriate personal touch that was always timely and relevant. He was also no stranger to confronting controversy head on and challenge the norm when it came to the release of information. His vision enabled the Department to become more proactive with release incident photos and tweeting as incidents unfolded. From an individual perspective, his Twitter account is personally managed by him (no ghost tweeting here!). He has amassed over 1300 followers, is a member of over 52 Twitter lists, and even inspired a local blogger to write specifically about her impression of him as a result of his Twitter presence. As Chief Goddard prepared to step down from HCDFRS, he did so with an astute awareness of a need to bring closure to his Twitter presence as @HCDFRS_Chief. Although he continues to actively tweet today, his handle has since changed to @ChiefGoddard and there is a clear notation in his description that he is the former Chief. He provides a unique voice in the fire service for all public safety agencies and government officials to follow and continues to set a standard for providing content that is timely, relevant, informative and socially savvy. He deeply believes in the power of social media to have a huge impact and continues to advocate for more agencies to embrace these tools.
Rosetta Carrington Lue, City of Philadelphia
Rosetta Carrington Lue is one of the most interactive customer service professionals on social media. She has a following of over fourteen thousand people, however, her followers is not what makes her a great interactive customer servant. From the start of her position, in Philadelphia, she has stressed the importance of a social media presence not only for herself but for the entire city. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Citywide Social Media Working Group as well as orchestrated the social media working group for the managing director's office. In those groups participants do not only discuss upcoming events but industry best practices as well as cutting edge ways to use the newest technology platforms. Additionally, Philly311, under Rosetta's direction has been implemented one of the most successful government handles in the country. In 2013, Rosetta was named one of the Huffington Post's most engaging customer service professionals. She was the only public sector figure on the list. Rosetta also makes it a point to share her social media strategies with other entities. Recently, she taught a class of temple students about how social media is being used in government in an effort to support Philadelphia's mission to engage millennials more. Rosetta also maintains a customer service blog which is essentially a how to on best practices in public and private sector. She is paving the way for a new business model in government, through her efforts, by adopting industry best practices and transforming them into government.
Erin Cochran, County of Marin, Department of Health and Human Services
Under her guidance and leadership, the HHS FB page grew to 1, 400+ likes in less than 10 months. Erin also leads the County's Social Media Taskforce when the County's Social Media Coordinator is out. She also serves as Deputy Public Information Officer for the EOC, Sheriff's Office, Department of Emergency Services during a disaster. For example, she spearheaded a coordinated social media response during emergency activation due to flooding in December 2014. She shows discernment for government policies while maintaining the human voice and tone, which is hard to balance. Departments come to her for advice on strategies to leverage social media effectively. Moreover, she has gained a reputation as a leader in her field during conferences and via LinkedIn, so she is often consulted by government agencies across the country.