By Scott Burns
September 19, 2013
The foundation of successful government communications has always been the ability to effectively share information, provide solutions, and reach citizens and stakeholders with information they want and need. In the past, communicators honed the skills needed to organize interviews, create press releases, send correspondence and provide information for radio or TV. But in a digital era, with email, text messaging and social media at the core of how we communicate, government communicators are finding they need to keep up with a faster pace of information and adapt to a constantly growing and changing landscape of tools and platforms.
In working with more than 1,000 public sector organizations of all levels worldwide, we’ve partnered with countless government communicators. Through those experiences, we’ve seen the most successful government communicators employ strategies and tactics necessary to reach and spark conversations with citizens, subscribers, friends and fans on an ever-increasing number of platforms. We thought we’d share some essential strategies and tactics that today’s government communicator can use to create meaningful connections on digital platforms.
1. Provide Specific, Customizable Topics
If you’re anything like our clients, you’re creating a lot of content. You’re constantly updating web pages and blogs, drafting press releases, and working on articles or stories. What we’ve found is that the most successful government communicators are able to distill the content they write into specific topics to which citizens and stakeholders can then subscribe. By offering specific topics or feeds, such as road closures in a specific neighborhood or school updates or alerts on food recalls, citizens and stakeholders have the power to choose what kind of information they want to receive. This allows these individuals to customize the information they receive. They are more likely to subscribe to granular information of interest than a broad newsletter from your agency.
2. Reach 50 Percent More of Your Stakeholders
Every organization’s starting point is different, but an effective government communications team needs the ability to set and reach measurable targets for subscriber engagement. One key metric that every government communicator should be tracking is the number of people he or she can reach. To that end, an essential strategy to build and strengthen is the ability to increase your organization’s outreach by 50 percent or more. If you are currently communicating with only 1,000 stakeholders via an e-newsletter, imagine the impact your organization could have by being able to reach 1,500 stakeholders using multiple channels.
The number of people you connect with ties directly to the impact you can have on meeting mission goals. One very simple way to significantly increase your subscriber base is to make it easy for citizens to subscribe. An easy, but often overlooked tactic, is to put links to sign up for updates everywhere: on your website’s home page, high traffic web pages, blogs, and social media profiles, as multiple gateways to information and content for citizens.
3. Drive Online Self-Service & Transactions to Meet Mission Goals
Moving beyond mass communication with large audiences to deliver personalized, one-to-one messages that encourage online activities or transactions can help government organizations meet mission goals, save money and potentially increase revenue. With people more willing than ever to receive bank statements online and pay utility bills through government portals, one-to-one messages are critical to driving the use of online self-service portals and transactional activities in general.
Adoption of online service activities can be increased by providing specific and clear calls-to-action throughout your message to let stakeholders know what activity they can take either online or offline.
4. Network Effectively with Other Government Entities
In the public sector, agencies can work together on common interests and goals. By partnering with other government entities to cross-promote content, organizations can simultaneously increase their outreach and drive engagement with very little additional time, effort or cost. Work with organizations that seek to reach similar audiences by topic, geography or both. By cross-promoting one another’s subscription topics, both organizations can dramatically increase digital outreach to people who have never visited their website but are interested in specific topics.
Organizations that use cross-promotion effectively can increase new sign-ups by 50 percent or more. Try showing users options of “Other topics/newsletters you might be interested in from other organizations” and ask those organizations to do the same for your most popular subscription topics.
Citizens and stakeholders need information, either to answer questions they have or provide insight into concerns, but they may not know that government can help them find that information. Public sector communications professionals can help. With a diverse digital strategy and tactics, they can effectively communicate valuable information to stakeholders, helping their organization meet mission goals and ultimately proving organizational value to stakeholders and the public.
Scott Burns is the CEO of GovDelivery, the leading provider of public sector cloud-based communication solutions, provides a massively scalable communications ecosystem that transforms the way public sector organisations, of all sizes, attract, inform, and engage stakeholders.
Image via pio3/Shutterstock.com
By Scott Burns
September 19, 2013