Retooling for a New Era

You can now find the Civil Service College on Facebook. It’s part of the Public Service’s new media programme to reach out to audiences in new ways.
You may not realise this, but every time you use Facebook or Twitter, a group of professionals is closely watching you.

No, they are not secret agents, but public relations experts for whom new media, as a collective of Web 2.0 and social media platforms, is presenting challenges – and opportunities.

Today, empowered by the Internet, stakeholders and individual members of the public, whose voices were previously mediated by traditional media, are coming to the fore. Media consumption patterns among the public are also evolving in tandem.

It’s no longer surprising to see middle-aged or older Singaporeans whip out their iPhones to keep tabs on the movement of share prices (or that of their children via Twitter and Facebook updates). Traditional media in Singapore has had to respond by evolving the way it reports and packages news.

In Indonesia, where Internet penetration is just 12.5%, the proliferation of cyber cafes and the availability of affordable cell phones plans are contributing to a new media boom. In fact, says the New York Times, Indonesia has the world’s third-largest number of Facebook users at 21 million, and they are turning into a political force.

In Japan, online journalists are now able to attend news conferences held by the government. Hitherto, government press conferences were only open to closely guarded press clubs comprising members of large media companies.

New media, therefore, should not be seen as a threat, but an opportunity for the government to reach out to diverse audiences in very different ways, said Acting Minister of Information, Communications & the Arts Lui Tuck Yew at a recent public communications conference co-organised by MICA and the Civil Service College (CSC).

Over the years, the CSC has been working with its partners to augment its suite of training programmes to develop the Public Service’s capabilities to harness the communications opportunities presented by new media.

The latest of such programmes is the Professional Certificate in New Media Communications, jointly developed by the Civil Service College and the School of Film & Media Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

The one-week programme adopts an integrated approach to new media, equipping participants with the practical skills set, as well as the mental paradigm, to create content for key new media platforms.

The first run was over-subscribed, with many agencies asking for a second run this year. We expect to offer a second run in October. If you feel that such a programme will benefit your work, contact your training coordinator, and tune in to the Civil Service College via its website and on Facebook (“Civil Service College Singapore”) for more to come.

David Lee is head of the Centre for Public Communications, Civil Service College.
    Jul 6, 2010
    David Lee
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