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Communications Task Force

June 17, 2020

Present: Chair Jenni Tilton Flood, Bryan Roche, Maria Staples, Jessica Nixon, Nathan McIvor

The Communications Task Force met electronically for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. The Task Force discussed during their regularly scheduled meeting the following:

1. Introduction of Nathan McIvor, Public Affairs Associate.

Nathan will be working as an intern at Volunteer Maine this summer. So far, he has supported Roche by producing press releases, a new style guide, and working on departmental websites. McIvor said that the job has provided opportunities to learn about government and communications work.

2. Communications Officer's report

  • The weekly communications update will return as part of Nathan’s responsibilities; this will end the report’s five-month hiatus. It provides updates from the staff team and contains links to press releases and other communications materials.
  •  Roche said that accessing leads to an “Oops!” page, as the home page has disappeared. The rest of the site is intact, though, so bookmarked links to the site will still work. The web developer is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail. The developer’s backup team is working with us. Nathan is moving pages from over to so that we have something in place in case things go awry with Pemaquid.
  • Before 2014, there was one backend for the two websites. When the sites were separated, there was risk of duplication. We are close to closing a contract with InforME so that we can use new backend development tools for website work.
  •  A chunk of the website funding will be moved into Bryan’s budget line for FY21. The task force will play a large role in the testing process for all new web materials.
  • Volunteer Maine intern Patrick Blonaisz produced a final draft of the member response survey. Nathan turned it into a 40-page slideshow that could also be repurposed into three months’ worth of promotional content, Roche estimates.
  • Governor’s Service Awards and Volunteer Maine press releases were published by the following outlets": Bangor Daily News, Village Soup publications, WABI TV 5, the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.
  • A press release to announce the first round of AmeriCorps Formula funding was distributed to the media at the beginning of the week. Localized versions have been produced for follow-up pitches. The June 2020 communications report will be done soon. Several other tasks had to be prioritized this month.
  • The Virtual Recruitment fair got a lot of positive feedback. Attendance was sparse. Also, the way we set up the show flow for it got compliments from AmeriCorps programs; someone from Serve Utah told us their state service commission will use Volunteer Maine’s set up for their own virtual sessions.
    • Virtual recruitment sessions could replace traveling to recruitment fairs if the current pandemic response becomes the new normal. Travel funds could be reallocated into technology and vendor partners.
  •  The CORPS Act being discussed in U.S. Congress would impact Volunteer Maine in the following ways if passed
    • Roche provided an overview of things to look out for, such as:
      increases in the Segal Education Award and living stipends; the elimination of income tax from living allowances and education awards from income tax; increased flexibility around National Service requirements; and language about a pilot project that allows state service commissions to directly place national service members, much like the previously-discussed Maine Service Fellows plan.

3. New Business/Comments

  • Question on whether Volunteer Maine needs to recruit another Commissioner immediately after a recent resignation or wait until the fall.
  • Roche announced that he will give everyone a draft of Patrick’s report and that Zoom accounts will soon be under a new state enterprise license.

The next Task Force meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 8, 2020.