#GSMCON2018: Day 4

It’s the final day of #GSMCON2018! Day 4 (Thursday, April 26) was a half-day of sessions before our trip back to the Denver airport for our flights home.

The overall agenda for my day was as follows:

  • 8:00 – 9:30 AM       Keynote: Conversation with City of Houston on Hurricane Harvey
  • 9:15 – 10:15 AM     Responding to Social Media Comments (BART)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 AM   How to Tell Your Own Story with Social Media

Keynote: Conversation with City of Houston on Hurricane Harvey

  • Melissa Ragsdale Darragh, City of Houston
  • Angela M Douglas, Houston Police Department

This keynote focused on the impact that Hurricane Harvey had on the City of Houston and how the two speakers were able to use social media to assist residents, provide information, tell their story, and handle rumor control. The biggest takeaway I got from this keynote was this: Always give people consistent updates in times of crisis or emergency (i.e. every half hour, hour, 15 min, etc.) REGARDLESS of whether you have any new information. People want to know that you’re still making progress and that they can count on you, so even if you have no new information or updates you need to communicate with them to show that you’re still working on the situation.

Responding to Social Media Comments

  • Alicia Trost, Communications Department Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Alicia had interesting input on how to respond to comments on social media. Her focus was on Twitter comments and how to engage with people who are being trolls and those that are simply requesting information. She also touched on how your organization should respond to comments and that you need to take the time to workshop your brand, including: finding your tone, being authentic, knowing what you’re NOT, and how to be savvy when responding to comments (not juvenile). You need to treat social media like a chatroom, not a bull horn. This means you need to take the time to engage with your audience, not just shout information at them and walk away. People want to know that you’re there to help them and that you’ll maintain transparency while you do it. Engage your audience, without using jargon, and have the knowledge base ahead of time. Gather some stats, key information, and graphics for topics you know people are interested in. Because nothing beats solid customer service.

How to Tell Your Own Story with Social Media

  • Dionne Waugh, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, CO
  • Katie Nelson, Mountain View Police Department, CO

This was the last session I was able to attend at the conference, and unfortunately had to leave early to catch my flight back home. The main takeaways I got from my time in this session were:

  1. Humanize yourself – show people what your organization does and the people that make it great.
  2. Get ugly early – if you’re not first to acknowledge the hard things, then you’re last. Don’t be late to conversation, even when it is ugly and dirty.
  3. Share with people what it means to be in government and how diverse your organization is.
  4. Take the time to get good at shooting video – it is the most engaging content you can post and is often the most informative for your audience.

And that’s a wrap for the final day of #GSMCON2018! After leaving the final session, I took an Uber to Denver International Airport where I waited for my flights home (unfortunately, there weren’t any direct flights to Pasco at the right time in the afternoon, so I had a connecting flight in Seattle).


All in all, I would highly recommend attending GSMCON if you’re in government communications or social media. It is a worthwhile conference, where you will have the opportunity to meet so many people that are in the same boat as you that you can share ideas, tips, and challenges with.

I was, however, glad that it was only 4 days long as I missed my puppy and fiance greatly while I was away! (Can we talk about how quickly puppies grow!? I feel like she grew up too fast!) Anyway, that’s it for this conference. Let me know if you want me to go into more specifics about it, or you can check out their website at




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s