In light of public outrage from FCAT scores drastically plunging this year, the Florida Department of Education launched two websites Monday as part of its campaign to communicate with parents. One website, floridapathtosuccess.org, provides them with information about the department’s goal of transitioning to tougher standards, while the other, parents.fldoe.org/home, serves as an outlet for them to ask questions and express concerns on a discussion board. In less than 24 hours of its debut, three topics were posed by parents on the discussion forum, with a FLDOE representative already replying to two of them.
This response by the Florida Department of Education showcases how the organization is taking steps to communicate better with its core audience and increase transparency in the communication process. At a time when many parents are up in arms about recent headlines, creating these channels to interact directly with parents is a smart move on FLDOE’s part to take control of the situation. Instead of letting all the worry and frustration from parents fester, the department is tackling this challenge head on and trying to remedy the situation by supplying an appropriate space for them to vent and get answers to their questions from an authorized source – a commendable effort by the FLDOE and certainly a good public relations example of using online resources to foster two-way communication.
Social media sites have transpired past our everyday lives and into the courtrooms. Just look at the Trayvon Martin case and current trial against his killer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s team of lawyers has now entered the social media fray by creating a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts to interact with the public, sparking interest and conversation. Recently, the George Zimmerman Legal Case shared a link on their Facebook to a blog article about Zimmerman’s abandoned Myspace page. In just four hours, the post had one share, seven “likes” and 93 comments.
With that said, the Zimmerman defense team may have bitten off more than it can chew. Media exposure has made George Zimmerman a household name and the face of evil. Their tactic of trying to shape public opinion of the most vilified man in the nation is an admirable effort, but the consequences have revealed that these social media labors can be detrimental to their cause. With dozens (sometimes hundreds) of comments popping up every time something is posted, we can see that the perception of Zimmerman continues to spread and swell. The handler of the Facebook account is threatening that any discussion or speculation on the facts of the case will be deleted, but that is not enough to control the catalyst of negative opinions brought on by every post.
Only time will tell how George Zimmerman’s legal defense team will handle such heightened criticism of their high-profile client and whether their online efforts will pay off. Either way, this case has certainly proven to be an interesting experience showcasing the evolution of social media.