Ambassador David Huebner secures social media award

The Gold Standard Award for Social Media Communications has been secured by US Ambassador David Huebner and the US Mission to New Zealand.

Over the past 18 months, the embassy has developed and implemented an expansive social media programme designed to engage sectors of the New Zealand population which have historically had little or no contact with foreign embassies.

The award was presented to the embassy at The Gold Standard Awards reception in Hong Kong, where Elizabeth Hernandez, representing the sponsor Hewlett-Packard, formally made the presentation.

The strategy employed three components combining traditional outreach with social media, cross-promoting content across all embassy social channels and interacting with audiences rather than just broadcasting information.

The embassy started less than 18 months ago by creating a full-time staff position dedicated to electronic media and then went on to launch a full array of social media channels.

After relying on just a webpage and an institutional Twitter account fed from Washington, the Mission established a new set of tools including the ambassador’s own blog.

Watch: Ambassador David Heubner address the 2011 GSA Awards reception in Singapore

Designed to engage and interest youth, the blog follows the Ambassador’s work in NZ and Samoa, relying heavily on images and video, and highlights policy issues that interest him. It carries the distinct personality of the Ambassador, and has drawn significant media attention.

It has quickly established a sizeable, and largely new, audience for the Mission. There were more than 200,000 page views in the past year alone, as well as more than 500 messages from readers.

Posts are regularly rerun by external channels such as DipNote, the Government of Samoa webpage, and other blogs, and the response from third parties has been highly positive.

Commenting on the award, Mark O’Brien, vice president of PublicAffairsAsia, said:”Ambassador Heubner and his work with social media engagement was a clear winner this year. Much of the embassy’s public affairs and political activity is conducted through a wide variety of social media channels and previously unreached stakeholder groups are now being effectively engaged.”

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