Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Award-Winning Characteristic #10: Diversity of Communications Channels

The 10th and final installment of our review of Gold Mouse criteria discusses the importance of communicating with constituents through multiple online channels. Users are increasingly expecting their online experiences to be interactive, and are expecting to access information on the platforms they are most comfortable with. Member websites should serve as a bridge to these different platforms and allow users to connect to the Member’s office in a variety of ways.

As social media use becomes even more widespread, it is important for congressional websites stay current and responsive by using these platforms to communicate with constituents. It is for these reasons, that in addition to recognizing the best websites in the 113th Congress, for the first time we will also recognize those Members who are successfully using social media to increase transparency and accountability in government.

Characteristic #10: Diversity of Communications Channels

Questions to be answered:

  • Can users interact and connect with the Member’s office through diverse communications channels?
  • Do you offer users guidance on how best to communicate with the office?
  • Are you providing links on your site to your presence on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook?

The specifics we look for:

  • Guidance on communicating with the office, such as how to request a meeting or register an opinion.
  • Communications channels that allow users a variety of ways to interact with the office or a variety of ways to receive content. These channels can include, but are not limited to:
    • Social bookmarking;
    • RSS feeds;
    • Online polls or surveys;
    • Facebook;
    • Twitter;
    • Podcasts;
    • Blogs;
    • YouTube; and
    • Email newsletters.

Award-Winning Example: Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI)

10 Characteristics of an Award-Winning Member Website:

  1. Information on Issues
  2. Timeliness
  3. Usability
  4. Constituent Services and Casework
  5. Promoting Accountability to Constituents
  6. Legislative Process Information
  7. District/State Information
  8. Floor Proceedings
  9. Diversity of Communications Content
  10. Diversity of Communications Channels


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