social media

EP…Yay

 

By Gyeongbae Jung

It’s 8 AM. I wake up, shower, put on some clothes, and struggle to find matching socks as I wonder why I didn’t to go to bed earlier. The struggle continues as I get ready to bike to my internship at EPA. I’m not a very good biker, but I lie to myself every morning about how good I am to convince myself to make the trip. I bike past Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, downtown, and the myriads of tourists taking selfies in front of the White House.

Interning at EPA this summer has been a bit surreal for me. I remember I used to stare at these big marble buildings in total awe when my family visited D.C. years ago. Mini me would try to picture what they would look like from the inside and, well, I’m here now. My childhood wonder and imagination have quickly been replaced with rows and rows of doors that lead to unknown offices filled with cubicles, employees, and the hopes and dreams of the American people. As I do my daily walk upstairs to my office, I can’t help but imagine how many people have done the same before me.

I’m an intern at the Office of Web Communications (OWC), or “the office of extreme Facebooking” as my friends would like to call it. I figured nothing would have prepared me more for this internship than the hours I spent procrastinating on social media during finals. But, honestly, that’s a very shallow way to describe the important work this office does. OWC synthesizes content and news, and shares it with the public through various social media channels. According to the American Press Institute, 44% of Americans receive their news through social media. As peoples’ dependence and connectivity to the internet continues to grow, so will the importance of modern media outlets as a way of sharing information with the public. OWC helps the public learn about environmental news and information in 140 characters or less.

Today is the last day of my internship at the EPA. It’ll be 8 AM tomorrow, I’ll wake up, shower, put on some clothes, and once again struggle to find matching socks. I’ll try to lie to myself again, but this time about how I won’t miss the intern struggle. I feel like this time my morning lie won’t be very effective. I sincerely loved my time here, the work I did, the people I met, and the cause I supported. People call it the EPA, but for me it’ll always be the EP….yay.

About the author: Gyeongbae Jung is a sophomore at American University studying environmental science. He works as an intern in the EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Social Media Magic

As an environmental policy major at the University of Maryland, I knew I’d found the perfect internship at the Office of Web Communications.

Working here is showing me a whole new side to the sites and applications I spend so much of my time on. My normal day on social media includes some frankly pathetic attempts at humor on Twitter, some carefully selected photos on Instagram, and an overwhelming amount of posts with sub-par grammar on Tumblr. How EPA uses social media, however, is a whole different story.  Where my “hilarious” tweets fall flat amongst my small following of friends, EPA’s tweets convey important health and environmental information that reaches thousands and get shared constantly.

Take my first day at EPA for example, Monday, June 2, 2014, the day Administrator McCarthy announced the new Clean Power Plan. I’m not exaggerating when I say the internet EXPLODED.  There were tweets, Facebook shares, and comments upon comments of the public’s reactions all flooding in at top speed. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, but also very intrigued by social media on this scale.  The following week proved to be even more interesting as I got to work on some of EPA’s posts myself. Nothing was more gratifying than seeing a post I helped write on the official EPA Facebook page!

A selfie Maddie took at her desk at EPA.

After just one week here, I’m beginning to see a new picture form about the social media sites I thought I knew so well. I’ve come to realize that social media is not just for teenagers and their endless (beautiful) selfies, but it is a way for the whole world to keep connected to today’s important issues. As I got a chance to explore all the social media outlets the EPA has to offer (check them all out here), I realized that social media is not just about shares and retweets, but is more about participation. Having today’s most important news stories readily available invites a conversation that gets everyone involved. Whether it’s a comment on a Facebook post, a retweet on Twitter, or a video on YouTube, EPA has some great ways to encourage an important conversation with the world.  I am so excited to see and learn more about social media and EPA during my summer here!

About the author:  Maddie Dwyer studies environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland. She works as an intern for EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Different Way to Connect

By Curt Spalding

The calendar finally tells us that spring is coming and a long, cold winter is ending. With this welcome season of change and growth, we at EPA New England are excited to offer a new way for you to stay in touch with our office and get the latest updates on our work: our brand-new regional Facebook page.

We’re looking forward to finding new, creative, and interesting ways to broaden our environmental dialogue with our neighbors in New England, as well as with other citizens interested in how EPA works for a cleaner and healthier environment in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

While we’ve had a successful regional Twitter account for several years now, and we regularly discuss New England issues on the EPA blog, we’re only now joining “Facebook Nation” as a way to have a less formal discussion on New England environmental issues. Social media provides interesting and effective new ways for us to stay in touch with you, and vice-versa. We hope we can better explain EPA’s work to you: the citizens, who rely on our good work for clean water, good air quality, and healthful land. We’re interested in talking with you, not talking at you.

New England is home to intelligent people who care deeply about their environment. How could it not be so, when you consider our beautiful landscapes, ranging from the towering sand dunes on Cape Cod to the rocky coast of Maine, from the Berkshires to the Green and White Mountains, and everything from pastoral towns to major cities.

We hope you will check out both the EPA New England Facebook page and Twitter account. Let us know what you think, and please feel free to “Like” or “Follow” if you want to keep up to date on our work or view the latest terrific photo taken by one of our folks in the field.

About the author:  Curt Spalding is the Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office, located in Boston.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Home Page for the Social Media Age

By Jeffrey Levy,

Here at EPA, we know that we can’t accomplish our mission without input and participation by millions of Americans, from rural communities and suburban neighborhoods to urban centers. We also know how important our Web site is for engagement and research. On our home page, we want to help you accomplish your tasks and stay informed, while making it easy for you to connect with us through social media.

We’ve decided to make a few design changes to enable visitors like you to more easily engage with us. It’ll go live in a few weeks, but we wanted to give you a preview.

We looked at heat maps (which show us where people click the most), popular search terms, and survey answers to give us ideas about specific updates to our home page. The attached image is the result. So, what’s coming? We added several new items to help you connect:

  • The banner at the top will continue to feature some of the most popular topics, as well as the biggest announcements, to help keep you informed about what we’re doing. This new design makes it clearer what topics are included.
  • Our regional offices now have a dedicated spot to provide you with announcements relevant to specific areas of the country. You can also jump straight to a page about your state.
  • We’re telling our story using multimedia: photos and videos that share how we pursue our mission of protecting health and the environment. We plan to use these elements with the banner and social media to provide multifaceted information about our efforts.

Dedicated features will make it easy for you to find us on social media, check our latest blog post, and follow us on Twitter.
At the same time, we’ve created a new area to help you learn what you can do to address some of the most critical issues. Below that, we provide direct links to some of the topics you search for most.

Ultimately, this new home page reflects our most important goal: to work together with you to improve public health and protect the environment.

About the author: Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications. He’s been with EPA since 1993, when he joined the agency to protect the ozone layer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Let's Continue Our Conversation

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español... ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

By Jessica Orquina

Thanks to everyone who joined our Twitter chat on Monday afternoon! We had some great questions and answers about water and climate change and I’m excited this conversation has begun. Here are a few of our tweets from Monday’s chat:


Next week we’re looking forward to continuing our conversation on climate change during our second Earth Month Twitter chat on Monday, April 15th at 2:00PM EDT. This time, we’ll be talking about waste and what we can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle our resources. Experts from our Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response join us to talk about how we can take simple actions such as recycling used electronics and reducing wasted food to combat climate change.

Join us again on Monday, April 15th by following @EPAlive and the #AskEPA hashtag on Twitter.  Send us your questions about waste, recycling, wasted food, and climate change via Twitter using the #AskEPA hashtag. If you don’t use Twitter, you can still submit your questions in the comments below and watch the discussion at @EPAlive and #AskEPA. Talk to you again next week!

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a public affairs specialist at another federal agency and is a former military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Let's Talk!

By Jessica Orquina

I’m the Social Media Lead for EPA. It’s my responsibility to lead EPA’s efforts to share information and communicate using social media. I work with my colleagues to make it possible for you to learn about our work on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, YouTube, and our blogs.

On Facebook and Twitter we share information that you can use to protect your environment. Like or follow us and receive tips you can use every day or to learn about the environment. On Foursquare we post tips at locations across the country and around the world. Check in at Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, WA or Rockport Harbor in Rockport, MA and see Documerica photos taken at those locations 40 years ago. EPA employees share their experiences and ideas with you on our blogs. Read about environmental tips, how EPA uses science to protect the environment, environmental justice, and many other EPA programs. We even have a Spanish blog! Check out our YouTube and Flickr stream to see photos and video of the work we have been doing.

We hope you find the information we share and the conversations that result interesting and useful. And we’re always trying to improve what we do

This is where you come in… What can we do better? Where do you want to connect with EPA online? What type of information would you like us to be sharing with you via social media?

Share your ideas and help us make this conversation more valuable. Tell us what you think in the comments below!

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a public affairs specialist at another federal agency and is a former military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA at Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

by Assistant Administrator Michelle DePass

Next week EPA will join people from across the US government to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.  Our team of experts will be engaged in government-to-government negotiations, while also connecting with partners from the US and around the world to identify steps we can take as individuals, as institutions, and as a global community to make our world more sustainable and prosperous.

Rio+20 is an opportunity to not only set a vision for the next 20 years of sustainable development, but also strengthen global cooperation at multiple levels – including non-profits and community organizations, students of every age, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. Rio+20  also gives us the chance to utilize the incredible progress in technology and social media in the last 20 years to engage in a new ways and bring more voices to the discussion. The commitments and actions taken by everyone participating in Rio+20 – physically and virtually – will be as important as any negotiated document, so please take part by visiting http://conx.state.gov/event/rio20/ over the coming weeks!

Here are a couple of items to watch for:

  • There has been considerable discussion about reforming international institutions that focus on sustainable development. We believe that efficient and effective global coordination on sustainable development can be achieved by strengthening existing institutions like the UN Environment Program (UNEP), rather than creating a new institution.
  • We have called on each conference participant to bring their own voluntary commitments to sustainable development. Making clear and transparent commitments, when linked together and made accessible through a global platform, can advance sustainable development by showing what everyone – governments included – can do.  This broad list of commitments should reflect the spirit and goals of the Rio conference, using modern technologies and platforms to share information and increase transparency and accountability.

Keep track of what EPA is doing on the ground by checking back here and following us on Facebook and Twitter using our hashtag #EPArio.

About the author: Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, US EPA. Michelle DePass has spent her career working to support environmental progress here at home and around the world, at EPA she remains committed to expanding the conversation on environmentalism and ensuring access to clean, safe and healthy communities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Convey the Message: How Social Media Helps Us Serve you Better

On January 7, 1994, as I was about to leave for another semester at Loyola University in New Orleans, there was an oil spill in San Juan Bay. An oil tanker leaked 750,000 gallons of fuel in the Atlantic coastal area. I read the news two days later in my first class on News Editing. That was the first time I used the Internet in a classroom. My professor, a seasoned journalist and a great mentor, asked me, “Aren’t you from San Juan?” We read the story on a California newspaper Web site. Countless pictures from the disaster spoke for themselves. EPA personnel from Caribbean Environmental Protection Division were on the scene responding to the disaster.

A few weeks ago, when the CAPECO oil tank farm in Bayamon burst into flames, less than a mile from home, I went straight to the Internet for information. While most local news sites only had a few sentences on the incident, some of my friends had already posted their amateur videos of the fire on Facebook. As a public affairs specialist, I can tell you that we’ve come a long way from just using traditional media tools. Nowadays messaging happens in realtime. The Internet and social media have added a new dimension to the field of communications.

The blog you are reading is part of this new dimension. When I was asked to write for Greenversations, I was a little hesitant. With training from EPA’s Office of Public Affairs, I got it nailed. Since blogs are statements from a personal perspective, they are a great tool to quickly strike a resonating chord with the reader.

Recently I read a speech on social media given by GSA’s Chief Information Officer. In it she emphasized how government is changing the way it interacts with citizens through blogging. I also read an article on crisis communications which discussed how blogging shapes our response to a crisis. It provides timely information from a human perspective. A human voice can help connect with the public’s emotional response during a crisis. I invite you to read Greenversations or Gov Gab at USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov It is one way to stay connected with the people we work for: the general public.

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the SanJuan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Llevando el mensaje: cómo los medios sociales nos ayudan a comunicarnos con el publico

El 7 de enero de 1994 justo cuando regresaba a la Universidad de Loyola en New Orleans, ocurrió un derrame de petróleo en la Bahía de San Juan. El tanquero Morris Berman derramó 750,000 galones de combustible en las aguas de la costa del Atlántico norte. Me enteré de este suceso por la Internet dos días después en mi primera clase de edición de noticias. Esa fue la primera vez que usé la Internet en mi vida. Mi profesor, un experimentado periodista, tomó la noticia como muestra en la clase por que yo era de San Juan. La leímos en un periódico de California que tenía un sitio Web. Las fotos del desastre hablaban por sí solas.
Hace varias semanas la instalación de almacenamiento de combustible de CAPECO se incendió a menos de una milla de nuestra residencia. Mientras muchos periódicos tenían sólo titulares sobre el incidente ya mis amistades habían puesto sus fotos y videos caseros en Facebook a menos de una hora de la explosión inicial. Como especialista en asuntos públicos, conozco la importancia que estas herramientas de comunicación social tienen hoy día a la hora de mantenernos informados. Ciertamente la Internet, Tweeter y Facebook y otros medios sociales, han añadido una nueva dimensión a la manera en que nos comunicamos.

El blog que está leyendo forma parte de esa nueva esa dimensión. Cuando empecé a escribir para Greenversations hace mas de un año me encontraba un poco nerviosa. Poco a poco le tomé el gusto ya que los blogs son ensayos cortos que expresan una perspectiva personal. Le dan un toque humano a la escritura y permiten desarrollar empatía entre el autor y el lector.

Recientemente leí un blog de comunicación social de la Jefa de Información de GSA sobre social media . En dicho discurso ella enfatiza cómo el gobierno ha cambiado la forma en la que interactúa con sus constituyentes mediante los blogs y cómo estos constituyen un nuevo espacio para la discusión pública de asuntos importantes. Por otra parte hace varios meses leía en un boletín de comunicación en crisis al que estoy suscrita de cómo los blogs afectan la manera en la que los comunicadores respondemos a una crisis. El blog nos permite acercarnos al público, mantenernos accesibles, a la vez que informamos . Estos medios proveen las herramientas para lograr conexión con el público en un momento de crisis. Le invito a que lea nuestro Greenversation o Gov Gab en USA.gov o GobiernoUSA.gov Es nuestra manera de estar cerca de nuestro publico.

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini se unió a la EPA en el 2002. Labora como especialista de relaciones públicas en la oficina de EPA en San Juan, Puerto Rico donde también maneja asuntos comunitarios para la División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Tweeting Away at EPA

Last fall, I wrote about this blog’s Twitter account, @greenversations. Since then, several folks across EPA have been trying out Twitter, with varying approaches.  Today, I got this question from Randa Williams, a researcher at the University of Washington who’s looking into best practices for businesses on Twitter:

I wonder when you will start having conversations rather than just broadcasting on twitter…Lots of EPA broadcast channels on Twitter, exceptionally few conversations. I know, engagement is more work, wondering if you had thought about expanding into this area.

It was such a good question, I thought I’d respond publicly as well as emailing her.

Randa is right: the gold standard is conversing on Twitter and other social media sites, not just broadcasting. But she’s also right that it takes resources.  Not just someone’s time, but also having the right person, who’s plugged into what’s going on around EPA and who knows how to speak to the world on EPA’s behalf.

There are also different ways to use Twitter, and we’re experimenting with most of them.  For example, we’ve done a little live tweeting, with plans to do more.  There are also different approaches to who to follow, how frequently we can commit to posting, etc.

We do have a couple of good examples of interaction for content on a smaller scale than “all of EPA:”

While we figure out the gold standard (interaction), we’re doing what we can on what I call the tin standard (broadcasting). Given the number of followers, it seems a decent number of people appreciate even that.  Here are some of our other accounts:

  • @EPAgov – our main account.  Primarily our automated news release headlines and blog posts, plus a few web updates and manual tweets.  This account combines content that’s also split into individual accounts, and is also available on normal Web pages:
  • @EPAlive – we’re occasionally experimenting with using this for live tweeting
  • @EPAowow – Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds
  • @EPAairmarketsmarket-based regulatory programs to improve U.S. air quality
  • @EPAregion2 – regional office in New York
  • @EPAregion3 – regional office in Philadelphia

We’re also working up some conventions, like starting our account names with “usepa” and using the same seal as the avatar.

Not quite in the same category, some of us are also tweeting professionally. We’re not “representing” EPA per se, but we’re using it as a professional network and information source.  For example:

  • @levyj413 – this is my Twitter account, and I use it to discuss social media in government (especially EPA)
  • @suzack777 – this is Suzanne Ackerman on our web team.  Suzanne uses Twitter to research projects like blogger outreach, and uses Twitter to make contacts and discuss related issues.

So thanks, Randa, for reminding me that we need to communicate more about what we’re up to.  Stay tuned for updates about our other social media efforts, too (in the meantime, join us on Facebook!).

Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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