With great fanfare, our overly-large school district recently released it’s first iPhone app and, after playing with it for a couple of weeks, I just have one question:
Ok, so there’s nothing really wrong with the software. I suppose it does what our PR office intended, which appears to be repackaging district press releases and other carefully filtered materials, adding a few carefully produced videos, into a mobile-friendly format.Â Basically the same information anyone could view on the website, except in a far less confusing interface (and missing the illusion of a functional search tool).
The most interesting part is the inclusion of something approaching a comment section. It comes in the form of a link to the system’s account on Uservoice (also found on the website), a service allowing organizations to to collect ideas and suggestions from their community, which the members can then vote up or down.
Overall, however, the app itself appears to be lacking any input from students, teachers, parents or most anyone outside of the communications office.
I wonder how much different this project would look if they had turned the whole thing over to a group of students and asked them what should go into a mobile resource about their schools. The lunch menus and sports schedules would probably still be included but maybe they could create something more useful, and interesting, than this narrowly-focused propaganda app.
If you’ve ever spent more than a day in Washington, DC, chances are you also spent some time in at least one of the many museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution.
So, what did you think of that experience?
The people running the Smithsonian wanted to know as well and recently completed the “first in-depth research in almost 20 years” to determine how visitors viewed the 165 year old organization. Â Researchers found their name recognition was way down and that people used words like “elitist” and “antiquated” to describe the institution. I think “boring” and “lacking involvement” also apply.
It would be wonderful if the Smithsonian took those findings (and maybe a few ofÂ my suggestions) as a great opportunity to improve their exhibits, presentations, and activities. A chance to update their educational mission out of the 1950’s lecture/demo, static display approach they are currently so fond of.
However, this is Washington, and around here, we don’t improve the product, we work on making better public relations.
According to an in-house document obtained by The Washington Post, a branding campaign was ordered “to help us change the way people see us. And to place more emphasis on what we do instead of on what we have.” The branding idea was an outgrowth of a strategic plan developed last year. The Smithsonian spent $1 million for research and creation of the slogan.
That new slogan? “Seriously Amazing”
Seriously? You paid one million bucks to arrive at calling yourselves “seriously amazing”?
Evidently the US Air Force sees blogs as a threat of some kind.
Bloggers: If you suddenly find Air Force officers leaving barbed comments after one of your posts, don’t be surprised. They’re just following the service’s new “counter-blogging” flow chart. In a twelve-point plan, put together by the emerging technology division of the Air Force’s public affairs arm, airmen are given guidance on how to handle “trolls,” “ragers” — and even well-informed online writers, too.
They also have a Twitter feed for anyone who wants to know what the Air Force is doing right now.
I love the fact that one branch on their “counter-blogging” flow chart notes how to deal with posts by “unhappy customers”.
Are their “customers” those of us who pay for the bombs, or the folks on whom they drop them. :-)