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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
 
 
 

ABOUT CMF

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CMF is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to helping Congress and its Members meet the evolving needs and expectations of an engaged and informed 21st century citizenry.

Our work focuses on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement through research, publications, training, and management services.

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PROJECTS

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Communicating with Congress The Internet forever changed how citizens and Congress interacts. The goal of this project is to facilitate a more meaningful democratic dialogue.

 

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Gold Mouse Project
Congress should effectively communicate with and serve citizens online. CMF assesses congressional websites to identify best and innovative practices that can be more widely adopted by the House and Senate.

 

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Inside the Hill
Produced by Founding Partner Fleishman-Hillard, this video series allows you to hear directly from Members and staff on how technology is changing the way Congress works.

 

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Life in Congress
This novel research project by CMF and the Society for Human Resource Management has two goals: identify the factors that motivate congressional staff and shed some light on Congress as a workplace.

 

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21st Century Town Hall Meetings CMF seeks to continue our innovative work in this area by conducting comparative research on in-person town halls, online town halls, and telephone town halls.