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Blogs and Social Media

Blogs

Web Managers are encouraged to use VA’s official blog (VAntage Point).

Blogs will be on a va.gov domain or other VA approved .gov domains that are considered official VA websites.

Blogs will fit the mission of VA and be relevant to current issues/events at VA as determined by appropriate VA management officials.

Blogs must contain postings within the last 30 days or they are subject to removal.

Blogs must be reviewed by designated blog managers and appropriate public affairs officials to ensure that content does not undermine, counter, or contradict VA’s official position on any issue.

Blog managers will not redact or edit parts of blog comments.  All of the content from a blog comment must be posted, or none of the content may be posted.  No comment can be posted if it contains excessive inflammatory or defamatory remarks, profanity, personal or sensitive data, language which may be construed as a threat, or inappropriate links.

If the submission field for comments or any other required fields ask for an e-mail address, name, or other personal identifying information, appropriate permissions to gather personal information from public individuals must be obtained from the Office of Management and Budget, and all privacy and forms requirements must be met.

Blogs will contain the following “Leave a Reply” statement:  This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse and is used only to post commentary on this topic.  It may not be used to submit requests for customer service; requests for customer service must be made via the Inquiry Routing & Information System.  Please do not submit any personal sensitive information in your submission since this mechanism is not secure.  VA will review the content of all commentary and will not post any content that is not relevant to the topic of the blog and/or contains inflammatory or defamatory remarks, profanity, personal or sensitive data, language that is or may be construed to be a threat, or containing links to information on non-VA websites that is deemed by VA not to be useful or relevant.  Any commentary that indicates illegal activity or a violation of law will be turned over to VA authorities for appropriate action.

Blogs that are relevant to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) programs and/or written by VBA employees, should be submitted to the VBA Web Communications Office for review and any editing, if applicable.  The proposed blogs can be emailed to vbasocialmedia.vbaco@va.gov.  The VBA Web Communications Office will submit the blog to OPIA’s office of Digital Media Engagement for final editing and approval prior to publication.

When using VAntage Point, remember…

  • Blog posts sometimes generate questions.  Please specify a Subject Matter Expert that can be contacted when your story is posted.
  • Blog posts sometimes generate negative comments that may be hurtful, offensive and/or rude toward you and/or the people in your posting.  All blog post authors and people featured in story should be prepared for this.
  • People interviewed for stories sometimes regret seeing their personal information or past issues in print, displayed before the world.  It may affect relationships with family or friends.  Anyone featured in a story needs to understand this information will be available publicly to a wide audience.

Social Media

Use of web-based collaboration technologies and social media tools is governed by VA Directive 6515.

Your website is just one online channel you can use to reach your audience.  Additional digital communication channels can help you reach a broader audience and engage citizens.  The resources below will help you to strategically use additional online channels to reach your communication goals.

Primary VA Social Media Sites

Facebook Twitter Blog Flickr
VA VA VA VA
VHA VHA   VHA
VBA VBA VBA  
NCA NCA    
YouTube Instagram Google+ Pinterest
VA VA VA VA
VHA   VHA  
VBA VBA VBA VBA
NCA      

Resources

Podcasts

Podcasts are a part of “outward facing content” outlined in the policy. Point of contact for podcast approvals are Gary Hicks, Director of Digital Engagement, OPIA.

Currently, we are developing at VA Podcast Network (and we are currently looking for podcasters!). In order to be approved for an official VA podcast you must:

  • Have an approved podcast hosting site that can connect to industry standard podcatchers (iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc).
  • Agree to post at least on a bi-weekly basis (Exceptions can be made in the case of serial podcasts).
  • Have the equipment necessary to produce a professional-level podcast.
  • Have a clear plan, format and specific niche’ that serves VA’s external messaging
  • Show notes are to be blogged on VAntage Point (blogs.va.gov)
  • Agree to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics

Page nine of VA Directive 6515 (Use of Web-Based Collaboration Technologies) states that OPIA duties include:

“(4) Review and approve or disapprove requests by VA organizations to launch official
social media presences;
(5) Have the authority to disapprove any outward-facing content on official VA blogs and
social media sites which do not meet accepted standards of quality;
(6) Designate the Director of Online Communications, Office of Public Affairs, as the
official responsible for providing organizations throughout the Department content
standards for the use of online communications.”

Official VA seal