Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

4 Easy Steps to Boost Citizen Engagement


At the top of nearly every public sector organization’s priority list is how to better engage the citizens it serves. Boosting stakeholder engagement was rated the highest communications objective for 2014 among nearly 40 percent of government respondents in a survey by GovDelivery, a digital communications service provider.

Communications that can drive stakeholders to engage with an organization’s mission is a critical factor. This is the case regardless of the mission itself, whether an organization like the Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to drive citizens to prepare for a natural disaster or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging people to get their flu shots.

GovDelivery has collected many valuable citizen engagement tips that apply to organizations of all sizes and across all levels of government and put together a checklist.  Here are four steps that can help your organization reach more people than ever before and drive those people to take action.

1. Step Back and Establish Goals

For the most successful communications, you and your team have to start by working backwards toward a goal. Think about the top one to three things you are trying to accomplish with your messages. Do you want people to go to your website? Download a new app? Make healthier food decisions? Volunteer locally? Whatever it is, it’s critical to make sure your messaging strategy is constructed with that goal in mind.

2. Offer Relevant Messages and Topics

Are you offering options for your stakeholders to sign up for specific topics that interest them? Do you communicate with those people according to the topics they signed up for? Most public sector agencies have many different audiences they need to reach. If you’re a health organization, the public is going to be interested in different topics than health administrators or partner medical companies. Respect those differences by delivering relevant information to specific audiences, and you will improve stakeholder satisfaction and engagement.

3. Take Out the Red Pen

When your stakeholders are trying to read a message on a mobile phone (which a growing number of them are) or in between meetings, what they need is a clean, clear design that is easily digestible. So take out the red pen and start slashing. To make your content easier to digest, cut down the text and increase the font size. Add white space, especially around images, links and buttons, so they are easier to click when read on a mobile device.

4. Capitalize on Targeted Messaging

Anytime someone interacts with your organization’s online services, portals or applications you have an opportunity to employ targeted messaging, a message that is personalized to that person’s interaction (sometimes called triggered or transactional messaging). A targeted message is the difference between an airline sending a general email to its subscriber list about a “special fare sale” versus the airline sending you a personalized message to “check in for your flight.” Targeted messages are more likely to drive engagement because the message is relevant, anticipated and personal. You can jump-start your targeted messages by personalizing a welcome or confirmation email to get them further involved in your programs.

Scott Burns is CEO and co-founder of GovDelivery, a cloud-based digital communications provider that helps government organizations connect with more people and get those people to take action. Read more on the latest in government communications and citizen engagement at

(Image via Camilo Torres/

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.