Communications Task Force
July 8, 2020
Present: Chair Jenni Tilton Flood, Nathan McIvor, Bryan Roche, Maria Staples
The Communications Task Force met electronically for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, The Task Force discussed during their regularly scheduled meeting the following:
1. Communications Officer’s Report
• Roche said that McIvor is nearly finished with the new departmental style guide, a project that has been on the backburner.
• Roche will institute a new communications model that resembles a newsroom or media agency. Service projects and other partners will send images, updates about deadlines or events, and requests for branding and PR help through a designated channel. Every Monday, Roche and another staff member will review the requests and create a project timeline for each one. Tilton Flood asked if the Volunteer Maine staff supported the new structure. Roche explained that the idea received strong support at the July 8th staff meeting.
• The Volunteer Maine staff meeting went over official recommendations from ASC about the National Service rebranding initiative that CNCS is working on with Brandpie, an outside vendor. ASC has raised some concerns that the proposed CNCS rebrand is likely to confuse the public and make National Service programs seem as if they are not inclusive.
• Roche recapitulated the website problems that have been plaguing volunteermaine.org throughout June 2020, noting that the web developer for volunteermaine.org was missing in action when the site began to malfunction, and that the developer’s staff was not properly equipped to resolve the website’s missing homepage. Roche and McIvor migrated content from volunteermaine.org to maineservicecommission.gov and Roche set up redirects to point web users to the migrated content on the .gov site.
• Over the last few months, web traffic to maineservicecommission.gov has increased and web searches for “Volunteer Maine” have increased as well.
• The deal with InforME for the new website is nearly finished and came to $5,000 under budget; OIT is reviewing the proposal before Volunteer Maine signs the agreement. The new website will be tested in Mid-September testing and has an October launch window. Roche will report back to the group once the timeline has been finalized.
• Email addresses attached to volunteermaine.org will be phased out. Roche is optimistic that recent technology problems are nearing resolution.
• McIvor shared some relevant communications news from his weekly communications update, noting that grantees Food Corps, Healthy Acadia, and Maine Street Skowhegan are receiving a large amount of attention from local, state, and national media outlets. Volunteer Maine’s recent press release about the Maine Volunteer Roles of Honor has been picked up by Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, Camden Herald & Courier Gazette, and Machias Valley News Observer.
2. New Business/Comments
The Task Force discussed CNCS’s rebranding initiative, and how it would impact state service commissions with different branding needs; there was some concern about how the National Service rebrand would impact state commissions that handle programs beyond AmeriCorps, such as Foster Grandparents or Senior Companions. These concerns will be shared during the feedback phase of the CNCS rebranding project.