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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
- #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.
- #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.
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
We publish by making branches off of and submitting pull requests to
master. 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 Circle.
The site team works in #18f-site.
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 contact for the blog is Andre Francisco.
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.
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 #outreach. 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.
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 #outreach 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.
18F branding and microsites approval
The outreach team is responsible for the management of 18F branding and its web presence. In the early days of 18F, staff were able to create public microsites using the retired
pages.18f.gov (currently microsites are hosted on Federalist). While that let us share information quickly and increase transparency, it led to a series of public sites that tended to have conflicting or incomplete information, inconsistent designs, and were often passively abandoned (sometimes with dead-end contact info). We all want to improve the user experience of government, 18F can and should be the example of that.
To ensure a unified and consistent brand across 18F, we’ve created a lightweight process for microsites. Here’s how it works: Before you create an 18F microsite (
xyz.18f.gov), please fill out this form to let us know about the site you want to create and how it will support your project. Outreach will follow up within a couple of days to discuss your proposal. Until we’ve cleared your project, we ask that you refrain from creating new microsites.
If approved, we will work with you to meet branding standards with your content and design.
Press and other inquiries
If you’re contacted by a congressperson or senator, or are contacted by one of their offices, please contact the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, and copy Dominic Sale. Feel free to give us a heads up in #outreach, too.
If you’re contacted by a reporter, please route all interactions through the Office of Strategic Communications (OSC) via email@example.com, and copy Dominic Sale. Feel free to give us a heads up in #outreach, too.
18F press mentions are collected in #press.
Speaking and events
If you’ve been asked to speak at an event, or if you want to speak at an event and may need approval, see the TTS Event and Speaker approval guide and ask questions in #training-conferences. If you’re already approved to speak 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’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.