Outreach

The Outreach team is responsible for promoting the work of digital innovators at 18F and across government. Our work spans a number of outlets, including the content of 18F’s public-facing website, our blog, our external and internal newsletters, our Twitter feed (@18F), responses to press, and responses to emails to 18f@gsa.gov, speaking engagements, internal communications, and 18F events.

The Outreach team is situated in the 18F Front Office within TTS. The Outreach team facilitates communication both internal to 18F (for example, editing policies and memos) and externallly (for example, our blog, press engagements, or social media). We want to help you tell 18F’s stories and the stories of our partner agencies! Don’t hesitate to call on the Outreach team to help with your comms needs.

Slack channels

  • #outreach is for all general inquiries including events, helping you promote things, people coming by the office, members of the press asking you questions, speaking at conferences, etc.
  • #blog is used to discuss upcoming posts, feature requests, bugs, and the last minute details of publishing posts.
  • #newsletter is used to source and discuss content for our external and internal newsletters. Hop in here to let us know about cool things other people are doing!
  • #tweet-this is where we coordinate activity for 18F’s Twitter account. Hop in here if you want us to respond to something, retweet someone, or tweet something interesting. You can also contact us if you’d like to be added to 18F’s team Twitter list.
  • #press is for collecting press mentions of 18F (non tweets).
  • #18f-site is for managing issues and updates to the current 18f.gsa.gov.
  • #inbox is for coordinating responses to emails that come into 18f@gsa.gov.

Project announcements

If you’re a project manager or storyteller working on an 18F project, ping us in #outreach for help creating a lightweight communications plan that will help you connect with your most important stakeholders. Comms plans for other 18F projects are in Google Drive

18F site

18f.gsa.gov is a static site based on the Jekyll platform. (We use Jekyll pretty extensively at 18F. The pages.18f.gov platform is built around Jekyll, and that’s basically our version of GitHub pages). We publish the site with Federalist.

The name of our master branch is staging. We publish by making branches off of and submitting pull requests to staging. Once pushed, a branch will publish through Federalist as a preview URL. Once merged, Federalist will publish the site at 18f.gsa.gov.

18F’s website also uses continuous integration to run tests on the site on each pull request. For CI, we currently use Travis and plan to switch to Circle soon.

We use Google Analytics and participate in the Digital Analytics Program to track site usage.

The site team works in #18f-site.

Blog

Outreach publishes the 18F blog. We write about progress on our projects, how we work, the culture of 18F, and to educate digital workers in the federal government about important topics. We also use our blog to highlight good work being done by other federal agencies and as a recruiting tool for 18F. The primary contacts for the blog are Andre Francisco and Greg Boone.

Everyone at 18F is encouraged to write for the blog; you don’t have to be at 18F for a certain amount of time to have interesting ideas to share. The first step is to meet with us and turn your idea into an outline shaped for a distinct audience. From there, check out the 18F Blogging Guide, which details the process more formally (including necessary approvals), and can tell you more about our mission and process. We’re happy to meet you wherever you are in the writing process.

Blog posts can take many forms including short updates, formal product launches, an educational series, a video, or a Q&A session. Blog posts don’t have to be long; 300 words might be enough for your topic. Getting them from idea to published post can take as few as six weeks, with most of that time spent writing the post. The sooner you can involve us, the better we can support you getting it published.

On a process level, blog posts are drafted and edited in Google Docs. We manage the approval status in GitHub and track them on a kanban board. We schedule posts on the 18F Editorial Calendar. See how we approach the kanban board in this policies and processes document. We discuss all of this in the #blog Slack channel where you can find a link to the board.

Newsletter

The 18F newsletter goes out every two weeks to more than 8,500 people. Our subscribers are a mix of government and the public, but everything in the newsletter is meant for public consumption. The goal of the newsletter is to highlight posts from our blog, let people know about civic tech events, and (very importantly) shine a light on the awesome work of our federal colleagues.

You should sign up for the newsletter.

Like our blog, the newsletter is always in need of submissions - especially of cool things other people are doing. Please send any interesting projects or initiatives you see over to #newsletter. Did some city adopt our design standards? Did an agency release a new data set? Is there a civic hackathon happening somewhere? We want to hear about it.

Here’s the guide on how to draft and publish the external newsletter.

Internal newsletter

18F also has an internal newsletter to keep you informed about what everyone is doing (18F org business, and more inside-baseball type of info). If your team has reminders or information you’d like to share with all of 18F you can drop it in #newsletter and we’ll include it in the next newsletter. If you’re announcing something in #news, at an all hands, or with a team-wide email, it would probably also benefit from being included in the internal newsletter.

Here’s the guide on how to draft and publish the internal newsletter.

Press and other inquiries

Speaking and events

If you’re speaking at an event, ping us in #outreach so we can provide you with team talking points, take a look at your presentation, and help you promote the event. If you’ve been asked to speak at an event, see the TTS Event and Speaker approval guide.

If you’re looking for help with a slide deck for a presentation, you can find resources on the 18F Branding site. We also have a couple previous decks that have ready-to-use slides about 18F’s history, the digital service ecosystem, and the basics of 18F’s model.


Still have questions?

Ask in Slack: #outreach, #blog, #newsletter, #tweet-this, or #press.