In the ever-growing realm of digital communication social media is all we hear about. However, in today's world of endless connectivity, the greatest opportunity to engage constituents on a rapid, low-cost and broad scale still lies in email communications. It is the responsibility of civic leaders to inform and educate members of their community. We look to our local governments in times of emergency and times of consistency.
The Benefits of Email Communications for Local Government
Here is a list of the top five reasons email should remain as one of your primary channels within your local government communications .
1. Information from a Trusted Authority - Email represents permission-based communication. Individuals will subscribe to receive content only from sources they trust. Citizens see their municipal leaders as local authorities. Providing an avenue for citizens to receive the news they want and need from the source they trust most is a powerful form of permission-based communication. Email is a mechanism that bridges the gap between civic authorities with information and the individuals who want to hear from them.
2. Transparency of Information - Email communications also allow governments to prove their commitment to transparency and open dialogue. By allowing residents the ability to subscribe to civic communications, it validates that leaders are accessible and that they are committed to providing timely, essential local information. Such a commitment reinforces a foundation of trust between citizens and civic leaders, which is imperative to the success of any municipality.
3. A Proactive Distribution of Information - Community members expect their leaders to provide them with news and information as soon as it has the potential to impact their lives. As the central hub to all local decision-making, news and resources, individuals not only expect their local government to provide valuable information but to do so timely. Email allows governments to distribute information as soon as it is available. No other medium provides as effective a platform for mass communication as email. Despite the popularity of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, adoption rates among the population are lower than that of email. Email currently has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined, proving that it remains the most accessible form of outbound digital communication.
4. Remote Accessibility - Not only does email communication allow for the proactive outbound distribution of local government news but thanks to the increasing popularity of smart phones and mobile devices, it's a medium that targets constituents anytime and anyplace. In 2015, 45 percent of email opens occurred on a mobile device, compared to 36 percent that occurred on a desktop computer. In addition, the public sector is among the top five industries with the highest percentages of outbound emails being read on a mobile device. According to a 2015 email marketing benchmark survey, 49 percent of public sector emails were opened on a mobile device.
5. Emergency Preparedness - The information that local governments have to share with their communities ranges from news alerts, to event details, to election results – all information that constituents want and need on demand. Possibly the most essential civic need fulfilled by email, however, is providing a platform for mass communications in the case of a local emergency. Email communications can be used to alert community members at home or on the go in the case of inclement weather, declared states of emergency, road closures, missing persons, evacuations, active shooters and other cases where every minute counts in distributing information that helps to protect the community.
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A Platform for Distributing Trusted Content
Government leaders have been given a responsibility to protect, inform and educate their communities. As local authorities with immediate access to information that will help guide and safeguard citizens, local governments must utilize a platform that will allow for one-to-many communication channels that are proactive, accessible and trusted. Email subscriptions offer an effective communication mechanism that will provide necessary news and alerts to constituents at home and out in the community when they need it most.