blogging, tweeting, social networking – yeah we're into that

Nearly every member of the AFGE Comm Squad traveled to #NN14 this year. For many of us, it was our first time experiencing the scope, passion and intensity of Netroots Nation and visiting the great city of Detroit. What better way to share our experience than through photo collections!

The City

The Conference

The Rally: #DetroitWater

Mark Ruffalo!

Do you have photos from the conference? Share your links in the comments below!

Jason Fornicola

Last week we said our good-byes (and good luck) to our colleague and friend, Jason Fornicola. For eight years Jason worked as a communications specialist with the AFGE Communications Department. He was also the producer and voice behind our radio program, Inside Government. We’re truly sad to see him go, yet proud to have worked with such a great talent. Jason is taking his awesomeness to Federal News Radio as Director of Custom Media. We’re excited to see what he does next and grateful for his work with the Comm Squad. Thanks Jason and best of luck to you!

How many times have you taken out your mobile device to snap a photo of the kids or your pet doing something ordinary, yet amazing? Many of us use our smartphones and other devices to capture the everyday moments of our lives. As union activists we can use our impulse to snap away to capture our experiences as activists and provide a visual story of our activism. In talking with our members and conducting trainings we find that some folks need a few tips on mobile photography. So, we’ve got you covered. Check out our list below.

  • Consider the light source and consider the subject. group phone and dslrsYou more or less want to have the light source behind you while taking the photo. You’ll find that if you take a photo facing the light that the subject will appear dark.
  • Keep still while taking your photo. Many of our mobile devices can take time to calculate the lighting and snap the picture. We want to make sure that we’re holding our device steady while it does the work.
  • Fill the frame! When taking photos of people you want to get relatively close. Save the wide angle shots for those scenic views.
  • Stay away from the zoom function on mobile devices. Most of the time you will find that when zooming on a mobile device the quality of the photo deteriorates significantly. Instead of zooming, get as close as you can to the action, then use the crop feature on your device to get a closer shot of the subject.
  • Keep in mind the rule of thirds. A number of devices will let you turn on a photo grid that will help you frame your photos. You don’t have to center your subject in each photo. Experiment with the grid to add a little creativity to your photos.

Do you have go-to tricks of the trade that you use when taking photos on your mobile device? Share them with us in the comments below!

It’s that time of year again when we attract hundreds of our members to the nation’s capital to impress upon them the importance of legislative involvement.  During this time we also hold our Editors Association Conference.  These sessions show our members how to take all those wonderful messages they are crafting and communicate them to internal and external audiences. So, if you’re an AFGE member, will be in the D.C. area Feb. 11-12 and want to get a taste of our trainings – please sign up!  AFGE Legislative Conference registration can be done at Questions? Contact us at

Check out the graphic for more details!

2014 editors association flyer

Hello 2014!

We’ve said see ya later to 2013 and we’re excited about the new year (as most folks are when Jan. 1 comes around again).  The new year brings new possibilities and challenges. We are anxious to get started.  Just in the first two months of this year we will be holding 3 trainings/info sessions, designed to inspire our members to get up and get active with social media, and to otherwise rejuvenate their communications activities. Last year we started using Prezi to spice up our presentations and step out of our comfort zone with the traditional PowerPoint. We’re still working out the kinks but we love the way it looks!

Check out our overview presentation on the AFGE Comm Squad! Do you have a go-to presentation tool? Let us know in the comments below.

So onward and upward with 2014! Remember to check back with us for regular updates. You can receive our updates straight to your inbox by subscribing (check out the box on the right side of the page) or following us on Twitter.  We’ll leave you with a Happy New Year graphic!

Happy New Year

It’s been a while but we’re back! Did you miss us? A lot has happened in the past view months but we’re starting to settle back into our regular grove. This week we were invited by AFGE’s National Veterans Affairs Council to give a communications presentation  at the council’s triennial convention.  With this training opportunity we were able to connect with members who were eager to learn about the function of the AFGE Communications Department and explore various communications methods.  We only had four hours to work with so we had to make it count!

During the training we provided members with an overview of the department’s functions, tips on speaking to the press, refresher on writing tips and information on how social media can be a useful communications tool. We also stressed the importance of incorporating digital communication tools and strategies into all areas of union activity. So often, we find that our folks are stuck in the old ways of desk drops and printed newsletters. This overview hopefully gave them a few new ideas to refresh their communications tactics and wow their members with new ideas to keep them engaged.

Admittedly we probably tried to cram too much information into the four hour session. This is definitely something to keep in mind for next time. Despite the somewhat fast pace, we were able to speak to our members on a variety of topics and get them out of their seats for an interactive activity that involved mobile device photography. We’re all about using the tools at your disposal and making your time and talents work for you!

All in all it was a great session! We look forward to the continued expansion of our training program. We can’t end this post without a picture of the scene outside the conference hotel in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Suan Juan, Puerto Rico | Photo by Chelsea Bland

San Juan, Puerto Rico | Photo by Chelsea Bland



Next month we will be heading to Pittsburgh, Pa. for a week-long training put on by the AFGE Women’s and Fair Practices Departments. Our role at this event will be something we haven’t quite attempted before. The task seems exciting, yet daunting. A little bit about this project: a staffer from our Communications Department will be taking photos, and posting to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, during the 8-day conference. Through the growth of our social media accounts and listening to other subject matters experts, we can see the potential that live tweeting and posting at events can do to increase our online audience, and spur engagement. The daunting part is, this will more than likely be a one-woman-show on the posting and photography front. Are there any time management tips that you swear by when multitasking at live events? We want to hear them! Please post in the comments below.

Also, we couldn’t leave this post without sharing a few graphics related to the upcoming training!

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