Pierre Wielezynski, a Communications Officer at The World Bank, and I presented to a great group of Internet pros from all over DC - government, non-profit, and commercial companies. Pierre offered tons of insight about what it means to be a social media evangelist inside an organization bolted as tight as The World Bank.
He has really accomplished a tremendous amount. Just last month he was in his Japan office training folks on some of the fundamentals that will help them in their jobs. (Our Japan Digital Influence team stopped in to share our POV and experiences).
He started by pointing out how other advocacy organizations were making big ripples or great starts including:
- One: the cause to allocate 1% of the US budget to fight AIDS and extreme poverty
- Greenpeace: primarily how they offer easy-to-tag 'Tag This Campaign' features
- Change.org: their feature that allows you to type in the plights you would like to solve in the world. The tag cloud generated by this simple tool inventories a lot of the issues the bank is focused on from "Sustainable food sources" to "ending global poverty"
- Good Search: every search can send pennies to a worthy cause.
- Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger: where use of the instant messenger delivers ad revenue to causes
- Kiva: allowing each of us to participate in micro-lending
His point? All this is going without the World Bank. Personally, I don't think he gives himself enough credit. His evangelism, his willingness to do a preso like this in front of 150 people from all sorts of agencies with his boss in the front row, and his willingness to be frank and open about what the Bank is and is not doing will likely do a lot to push the organization along.
700 vs. 20,000 Outlets
He made a terrific point with his slides showing their traditional communications effort (press realeases et al) over 4 months which generated 13,000 news mentions from 700 outlets - mostly traditional media.
Compare that with over 32,000 mentions from 20,000 blogs many of which were critiquing (okay, lambasting) the Bank. The Long Tail meets lack of control.
Ultimately his point is that we have to move from the Communications 1.0 model - "disseminate polished messages to people" - towards a new model where our job is to "help staff communicate"
The World Bank Blog Makes Little "Bangs"
Yes, they have one. It is the Private Sector Development Blog which is gaining popularity. And there are real people behind it who readers can get to know and trust. This small effort is a giant step in the right direction. The direction? As he put it, we need to move away from the Big Bang theory of communications - where we are trying to get that colossal clip (we here that all the time - "get us on The Today Show, Oprah, WSJ"). And we should move towards lots of little bangs like the ones created by this blog.
Here's how the blog describes itself:
"The Private Sector Development Blog (PSD Blog) gathers together news, resources and ideas about the role of private enterprise in fighting poverty. The blog is informal and represents the quirks and opinions of the bloggers, not the World Bank Group."
The authors are all introduced on the same page.
There were many other agencies in the audience from The State Department to Homeland Security to the White House. They would all be lucky to have a smart enthusiast like Pierre pushing them forward into a participatory approach to communications vs. command-and-control. The fact that they were all there for our session on developing social media strategy was a good sign in and of itself.