Let’s talk about what drives success, resident engagement, and economic development for local governments- communication. We know how important communication is for fostering growth, but sometimes navigating the strategy for communication can be half the battle.
On a federal level, there is a common attitude of distrust from citizens, but the good news is that local governments have more opportunities to engage and restore trust in their constituents (and there's data to prove it).
Local government communicators face challenges and obstacles that look different than other industry communication teams, and there are different stakeholders and platforms to navigate. At Revize, we understand the importance of resident engagement and know what positively impacts local governments and their constituents and the engagement tools to use.
We have some trends (along with resources) to advance in communication for local governments.
1. Digital Technology
It’s probably no surprise digital technology would be first on our list because we make websites, and there are new trends and resources for digital technology to foster growth.
Digital Technology can manifest in many different platforms but let’s go into what's trending for resident engagement now.
- Virtual Meetings- As we touched on before, constituents are more trusting of local than federal government. There are ways to continue to restore transparency and trust within communities, like agendas and meetings. We saw how important virtually offered resources were during the pandemic, and the trend is still continuing on.
Pre-pandemic, town and city meetings generally attracted the same active participants that wanted to contribute to community input. With the integration of Zoom meetings during the pandemic, there became more of a possibility to attract different voices to provide accurate feedback.
- Websites- Of course, we know how important websites are for companies' progression and reaching stakeholders, and it’s the same reality for local governments too.
Constituents are more likely to have a positive impression on a local government community when they have an accessible and usable website. Making sure there are communication efforts on the site that help get messages out to constituents is vital. These efforts can be accomplished through government website apps like e-newsletters, interactive forms, calendar apps, news and alerts, ADA compliance widgets, etc.
- Videos- When we are surfing a website page it’s easy to notice pictures laid out on the page, it provides visual stimulation and helps consume content. So the next level up? Videos. Videos are the future for local governments and maintaining constituent trust. Consider uploading video recording town and city meetings, events that happen in the community, and interviews with local government leaders.
2. Social Media
Social media is a vehicle that provides information to constituents, and utilizing the different platforms strategically can help get your message out.
It’s important to recognize where your audiences ARE, or else you waste valuable time creating content to reach an audience that might night see your efforts.
There are online resources to gather more insight into your resident's demographic, from there you can decide which platform to target depending on your campaign or goal.
Think about the messages and campaigns you can manifest from common stakeholder topics, like crisis communication, weather updates, and community events.
The topics for content creation are unlimited, it’s all about figuring out what platform is most lucrative. For example, if your goal is to reach active city members and you find the demographic is 45+-year-old men, you might consider using Facebook as your key medium for content.
We have an on-demand webinar where we give detailed insight on how to elevate your social media presence on different platforms.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is another lucrative tool for engaging with stakeholders and getting messages out. It’s a way to share valuable information, create more engagement, and remind residents of community events.
There are a whopping 4 billion daily email users, so it’s likely your residents can be reached by email marketing. Consider creating monthly newsletters with a call to action for events or soliciting feedback.
Not sure where to start to gather a list for residential emails? There are paid resources to gather data.
When it comes to targeted messaging for newsletters, it’s important to follow best practices in email marketing. Generally speaking, some of those best practices include aspects like:
- Short and sweet subject lines
- Clear images
- Make sure emails are responsive on mobile devices
4. The way we track communication efforts
Tracking and analyzing communication efforts could improve a local government's entity in the long run, and there are new methods to help measure growth.
“Most city and county communications teams have a good handle on workload measures, such as the number of press releases issued, and many have embraced efficiency measures around cycle time and cost, but few are measuring what really matters—the impact of all that effort.” (Knutson)
3CMA (3 City Management Association) has an in-depth rundown of measuring communication efforts for local governments, methods that might look different than other organizations due to resident stakeholders.
Communication benefits the relationship between local governments and residents, and as technology and communication trends adapt, local governments have to too. Interested in learning more about a leading government website provider that matches and exceeds current communication trends? Contact us today.