Communications Task Force: November 2020

Present: Chair Jenifer Tilton Flood, Julia Fiori, John Portella, Zakk Maher, Bryan Roche

The Communications Task Force met electronically for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 18 and discussed the following:

Maine AmeriCorps Launch Ceremony

The meeting opened with a discussion about the virtual AmeriCorps Launch ceremony, which took place earlier in the day. More than 55 new AmeriCorps members took place in the ceremony. Tilton Flood served as master of ceremonies and reported it was a wonderful ceremony to welcome Maine's new AmeriCorps members. Roche added that a replay of the event is now published, so those interested could view on their own time. The replay can be accessed on the YouTube channel using the following link:

Volunteer Maine staff update: Roche

New website 

Roche reports that website progress has moved along nicely in the last month. Between InforME and Roche, most content has been migrated and there are a few pages left to complete. Roche was hopeful the new site would be live by the final week of November, but issues around the website domain and the transfer process have slowed things down. As a result, a new launch launch date has been set for mid-December.

Roche thanked the Task Force for their efforts in content and structure decisions, input on dashboard metrics, and suggestions to improve the site, such as dynamic photography and simplified language. As the launch approaches, Roche informs the group that stylistic changes, such as photos and copy simplification, will commence post-launch. Roche credits the flexible Drupal content management system (CMS) utilized by InforME for the ability to launch and still additional changes.

Roche concluded by sharing images of the new site and provided the group with a testing link to provide additional feedback. Some members were reporting issues with the link, and Roche stated he will check with web vendor InforME on the status.

PBS American Portrait

Roche shares that a week prior, a producer from a new PBS show, American Portrait, contacted the Volunteer Maine office in search stories of Maine's volunteers.

The show, born out of a photo project, is collecting video submissions from across the country to be publicly shared on its website. In 2021, the production team will connect with individuals they feel will be a good fit for the full TV show.

Roche and Maryalice Crofton "emptied the rolodex" of contacts within Maine's volunteerism and National Service sectors for story submissions. Roche reported seven stories have been placed, with rumors of more being added.

Roche concludes by stating the importance of this media relations exercise, as the stories help to communicate an overall ethic of service in Maine.

View stories

Task Force structure

Tilton Flood moved the conversation to the overall structure of the Task Force. The discussion touched on the function of the Task Force, it's role in legislative affairs, and the prospect of increased legislative involvement.

Tilton Flood reported there is talk of creating a Community Service Caucus within the Maine Legislature, and Volunteer Maine is poised to play a large part in supporting efforts. Where a majority of discussion has focused on the communications and marketing pieces, Tilton Flood proposed the creation of two standing sub committees: Communications and Public Policy. Tilton Flood would lead efforts on the Public Policy side while Roche will provide the bulk of his support to Communications.

Tilton Flood then opened the floor for alternative approaches, such as a full split and the creation of a new, Public Policy Task Force. Before collecting feedback, Tilton Flood shared that the goal is to ensure the group is accomplishing all that it is supposed to be in both areas, while maintaining a balance in numbers on each side. Tilton Flood would also like each sub committee to leave each meeting with a clear call to action (CTA). Finally, Tilton Flood reminded the group that, no matter the approach, non-Commissioners can still join and support Task Forces.

Portella spoke first to share he believes it will be a benefit to all if the group stays together as one Task Force but follows the approach of two standing sub committees. Fiori and Maher then added similar thoughts around the idea of priority-based meetings and focusing energy where it is needed most. Both Fiori and Maher cited possible concerns around the already small size of the full Task Force.

If the group moved forward with the "as-needed" approach, Tilton Flood then asked if the group would be amenable to extra meetings. Fiori shared that she believes it won't be too much of a time commitment. Maher then asks if that would put extra strain on staff support. Tilton Flood asked Roche, and he stated that it wouldn't be too much extra. Tilton Flood explained that Roche would report out on Communications, Tilton Flood would do so on Public Policy, and Roche would compile notes for the full group.

In the end, it was decided to split the Task Force in to two standing subcommittees. The December meeting will focus on roles, goals and expectations.

Next meeting date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020