Publishing systems are as much about people as they are about technologies. Although we are the high technology people, in this case we are engaging younger people, gen-y or 'youth' to engage and promote indigenous activities in the Kimberley region.
In modern publishing we have a role to inform and communicate, but increasingly goals are to engage, have dialogue and possibly develop relationships.
Goals and Capacity Building
These people are younger, and are well positioned to engage effectively and are enthusiastic about indigenous activities in a way that is sure to be well received. These younger advocates are not necessarily formally trained in the mission and strategy of the ISX/BAMA, have a high level of competency as writers or understand legal issues regarding representation.
The ambassadors are raw, learning communication skills and writing and would like to improve these skills, but it is also a factor in being able to engage other poeple.
The ambassadors generationally, are familiar with digital photography, video and communicating on radio. Ambassadors are familiar with using phones for everything.
The Formal Editing Process
In a formal method of web publishing we might give the ambassadors the ability to add content, pass it through a few levels of approval and editorial process using tools such as Drupal Workbench. The result would manage misrepresentation, brand consistency and quality risks. The result would also be:
- More burdensome to the ambassadors, so create the risk that they will not contribute as much.
- Create process risks and bottlenecks. MountainRiver Web Publishing has found in the past that the more complicated the process, the more likely that key people will be missing and the process will be delayed or that special cases come up where exceptions are required - all the time.
- Result in a 'drier product'.
- Remove any dialogue/discourse or relationship building - all the things that we wished to develop in the first place.
An Enabling Approach
Providing ambassadors with a safer context to publish in enables them to commuicate more freely and with fewer administrative hurdles.
The process involves provision of websites and social media channels that are:
- Branded more casually, so that people can see that they represent one aspect of ISX/BAMA but do not speak officially for the organisation. Straight through publishing is encouraged as are other mediums such as informal comments that people expect to be more casual and authoritative.
- Support a wider range of publishing formats so that ambassadors can publish using mediums that they may be more comfortable with. This could be online radio, video or via photography if writing skills are not their strongest communications channel.
- Support and mentor. Both provide technical support so that technical issues are not an issue and discuss communications strategy over time and work to enhance communications skills. The systems allow for imperfaction and development over time. The engagement of a university to support broad communications skills development brings in a staged development methodology.
- Supporting enabling technology, such as the ability to 'blog directly from a phone or tablet'.
- Reward effective work. Outstanding posts can be re-used in formal communications and people can take pride in seeing their work being distributed widely and in acknowledged media. ISX/BAMA also builds up a library of communication resources.
The result is a set of rapidly rolled out, event specific and casually branded sites and media channels with some innovative ways of capturing the wide range of content that is produced.
An example is the "Pilbara Girl 2013" micro-site .