Public administrations have a reputation for inertia, so it’s always refreshing to see innovative counterexamples. The French Office national d’information sur les enseignements et les professions (ONISEP) is tasked by the Ministry of Education to help students, parents and educators to learn about existing professions and various opportunities for training or further studies. ONISEP has been making a number of changes to increase their appeal to a generation of students for whom connectivity is a natural state. This is a great example of knowing your publics and adapting to their needs.
Just one of the ONISEP’s initiatives involves setting up discussions with counsellors, mentors and young professionals. But unlike past events which required the organisation of physical meetings, today’s encounters are happening via online chats. Students can communicate in a medium that is familiar, and they can maintain their anonymity if desired, thus making it less risky to explore options that might not be mainstream.
The site also contains podcasts, vodcasts, online videos and quizzes. ONISEP has an active Twitter presence, although this channel seems to be used solely for broadcastin. ONISEP initiatives are alsopresent on Facebook.
At the intersection of new and old media, ONISEP continues to publish brochures and studies, but these have undergone a makeover to look much more like magazines and much less like institutional publications. Furthermore, they exist in interactive e-book formats (files that actually look like magazines and where pages turn rather than static and difficult to browse PDF files).
While social media veterans could easily identify deficiencies in the ONISEP approach, these are good early steps. Not all channels are yet fully exploited, but it’s a good beginning and crucially, what has been implemented is coherent and followed through.
It would be interesting to hear about some other innovative public sector outreach efforts in this vein.