It’s time to step up and control the narrative

The fact that data can be disseminated quickly and widely is both a feature and bug of the Information Age.

Consider that in 2012, Arab Spring activists in Iran and Egypt effectively used social media to spread the very real news of citizen uprisings to an anxious world collectively on the edge of their seats. The following year, radio host Alex Jones picked up and amplified a conspiracy theory on Twitter and YouTube that a mass shooting at Sandy Hook was staged. Feature meet bug.

If that doesn’t give you pause, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently found that false news (including conspiracy theories and urban legends) travels faster, farther, and deeper through Twitter than true news. In the words of Barack Obama, “it’s one of the great paradoxes of our time that the very technologies that empower us to do great good can also be used to undermine us and inflict great harm.”

When it comes to social media then, the best defense may just be a good offense. In a time when perception is reality, civic leaders — just like their counterparts in the business world — need to step up and own their story.

Misinformation spreads fast … And, it doesn’t take much for a tiny spark on Twitter to fuel a raging wildfire.

While you can’t be expected to police incendiary social banter and monitor Facebook Groups for falsehoods, you can shape public perception with your own narrative — backed by facts. Maintaining an open and transparent online presence can serve as a critical means of building support and dousing flames before they spread. Better still, you may prevent fires all together.

Six reasons to claim your free public-facing ClearGov profile

One free, easy way to get started telling your story is to claim your ClearGov profile. ClearGov aggregates and preloads demographic and financial data from various public sources including the U.S. Census, the state auditor’s office, the Department of Education, and more to create easy-to-digest, public-facing profiles for each community. In fact, we’ve already built profiles for 40,000+ cities, towns, and school districts across the country, including yours.

If you’re a district leader or government official, it’s easy to claim your ClearGov profile and it’s free. Just go to www.cleargov.com and enter the name of your city, town, or district to view your profile. You’ll see a blue “Claim This Page” link right in the banner.

Once you claim your page you’ll be able to unlock additional profile features that enable you to:

  1. Take a deeper dive into revenues and expenditures
  2. Update the financials with your own current data
  3. Pick who you want to compare your town to
  4. Add your town seal to your profile banner
  5. Respond to public comments
  6. Download a free “Transparency Center” button to use on your town’s website

Taking a proactive stance on transparency is key to building public trust and support. Start the process today by claiming your free ClearGov profile.

The new realities of public leadership
NOTE: The preceding post contains excerpts from “The New Realities of Public Leadership: How to Adapt and Thrive in the MisInformation Age.” For more tips on how you can start leveraging the power of the internet and other information technologies to drive transparency and build public trust, download the full ebook here

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