Any comedian will tell you that the secret to a good joke is all about timing. And if you have to explain it, then it’s not a good joke.
The same could be said about communications, specifically from our state government. The timing of a message is just as important as the components of said message. And if you have to explain the components of your message then you have failed at communicating it.
Such is the case with the state’s revamped website IN.gov.
Last week, The Statehouse File gave us this report on the state’s website:
The state has revamped its website with features meant to make mobile browsing easier, improve search functions and personalize content.
But those who went to the site right away found a photo of New York and one of Indianapolis that still included the old Hoosier Dome, which was torn down in 2008 to make room for a convention center expansion.
Erin Blasko, city government reporter for the South Bend Tribune, tweeted screenshots of the mistakes.
Timing. It was late January when the news broke of plans for the Pence administration to launch a state-run news service. The idea went over like the proverbial lead balloon and was quickly withdrawn from the table. Thus questions and scrutiny of the information coming out of the statehouse began.
One week later, the Indiana Republican Party began airing an online “Welcome to Indiana” video designed to promote the prosperity in the state to coincide with a visit from President Barack Obama. However, the video featured a scene of construction in China.
So why wouldn’t the media question photos of New York City and the no-longer-in-existence RCA Dome?
This week, The Statehouse File reported the out-of-state and outdated photo references were intentional.
Featured pictures on the state’s upgraded website are not “an accident” even though they showcase landmarks like the Empire State Building and the demolished RCA Dome.
Graig Lubson, a spokesman for the Office of Technology, says “we’ve been doing historical photos, background photos on the website for the thirteenth straight month now.”
The Empire State Building in New York City was constructed in 1931 with some Indiana limestone.
“The background picture is not an accident,” Lubson says.
Explanation. Ok, I get it now, but sometimes there is a place and time for Mr. Obvious. The photos of the horse drawn cargo carriages are obviously of a historical moment in time. It took careful scrutiny of the photo itself to see the Eli Lilly & Co. logo on the side of the carriage. The other photos in use are not as historically obvious at first, second, or even third glance. There is no explanation of any of the photos on the website.
Of course the average site user is looking for information, not a history lesson on Indiana.
That’s probably the third lesson in comedy and communications.
Know your audience.