your public is golden. And what I see is it becoming
more refined. We’re going to find success and mission
execution. We’re going to find a way of doing our work
I saw [the Web evolution] coming. I would say that
in the Coast Guard, some people understood it [the
power of social media] and some people are finally getting it. I had more resistance the first time I stood up
with this stuff a couple years ago in front of our senior
executives. I don’t need to convince them anymore.
They are starting to really get this.
The spotlight was on the Coast Guard recently
for the rescue mission after USAirways Flight
1549 crash landed into the Hudson River Jan.
15, and the search for missing NFL players off
the Florida Gulf Coast in early March. Do such
high-profile incidents put more pressure on your
office to get information out there quicker?
LANDRY: I think a local event can become a national
event very quickly. You’ve got to be attuned to that and
ready for that. We have so many compelling stories
that happen every day. We have people doing missions
every day and they’re great stories.
We had a person up in Baltimore rescue a 5-year-old from a
burning car. He was a Coast Guard
member on his way to work. You
have stories that catch people’s
interest and hearts, so you have to
be ready to tell that story. My
responsibility to the members of
the Coast Guard is to enable everybody to do that easily, because they
still have to do their mission. The
mission comes first. We can’t be a
distracter to the mission.
How do you keep pace with
the available technologies?
LANDRY: What we’re trying to do
is stay up on all the tools that are
out there. We have a firewall issue
at Coast Guard Headquarters and
we cannot access Facebook at
work, but we can go on Twitter or
use Flickr to upload photos. Our
goal has been to work with our
technology folks to make as much
available outside the firewall as
possible while still maintaining
our firewall. We’re not perfect yet.
We’re not where we want to be.
We are still running two systems, if you will. We still have a laptop and an air card
for some of the stuff we’re doing. We have a fan page
and a Facebook page that meets the requirements of
the firewall, but we still keep track of what’s going on
in the blogosphere with the laptop, so we can go outside the firewall and read what’s going on out there.
We’re the U.S. Coast Guard, so what does the general public want from us and what are their issues?
That’s why you have to be on that 24/7 laptop with an
air card that’s out there listening to what the chatter is.
When I first came [to this job] … we were behind; we
hadn’t rewritten our public affairs manuals since we
were in the Department of Transportation. You can forgive that because we had 9/11 and we had a lot going on.
The first thing you do is you catch up with your policies. You start writing new policies. And then you do your
strategy that says, “I’m going to pay attention to these
things strategically that also measure and monitor.” The
first year, it was hard to figure out how we were going to
measure our progress. So my second year’s focus was
developing the measurement. How do you know when
you’re getting there? How do you know how you’re
doing? And how do you adjust to meet the goals that you
set for yourself? We [now] have the strategy. ■