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Your community doesn’t run on a nine-to-five clock. That means that unlike your counterparts in the private sector, you don’t have the benefit of shutting down your computer and going offline at 5 p.m. Local government communication managers are responsible for the dissemination of important local news and information, whenever that news breaks, even if it’s before 9 a.m., after 5 p.m., on a weekend, or even a holiday.
How many times last month did you receive an afterhours call from your County Executive requesting an update to your civic website? How many emails did you receive, before you even reached your desk, noted with an urgent status and all caps in the subject line? How many weather alerts needed to be sent out on weekends? Now think about the amount of stress you felt staying late at the office to update communications, going in to your office on the weekend to send out notices, or having to explain to leaders in your administration why a website news article just couldn’t be published until you were back at your desk.
If your local government communication goals involve leveraging the latest tools and technology to keep up with current trends, then we have everything you need to start planning for 2017. The past decade has seen a significant paradigm shift in the ways that local governments communicate with citizens thanks to the proliferation of mobile technology and the widespread adoption of social media. You can expect mobile and social to continue to be hot topics in 2017 but you should also prepare for 2017 to be all about live video, transparency, security, and emergency preparedness.
How long does it take you to update a paragraph of text on your municipal website using your current local government content management system (CMS)? Ten minutes? An hour or two depending on whether the system is being glitchy? Two days because you have to outsource it to a third-party web programmer with HTML skills? If so, it sounds like you need a new CMS.
It’s 8:47 a.m. and you’re scheduled to present in front of your county legislature at 9 a.m. sharp. You’re standing in the hallway outside the chamber door and see an email pop-up on your smartphone from your County Sheriff with updated statistics for your presentation. The Sheriff explicitly requests that the data in your presentation slides be updated before you present at 9 a.m.
If your community is in a climate that will be seeing dipping temperatures this winter, then it’s time to start planning your citizen communications. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, winter cold results in more than twice as many annual deaths as does summer heat. Cold weather also accounts for more deaths than floods, severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightening combined. Of the approximate 2,000 U.S. lives lost between 2006 and 2010 due to extreme weather conditions, 63 percent of those deaths are attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold and/or hypothermia. This winter, when extreme cold temperatures inflict dangerous conditions upon your community, be prepared with a communication strategy that will keep citizens warm and safe.
These days, local governments are increasingly expected to do more with less. However, local governments can’t carry out their vital work if they fall victim to being the best kept secret in their city.
Unfortunately, that’s what happens when citizens don’t know what their local government has to offer. As noted in the book Local Government Management: Current Issues and Best Practices, “Many citizens are not aware of local government activities, and how these activities help further their own aims."
Today’s local governments across the country are under increasing pressure to cut costs, stretch budgets, find efficiencies, and essentially do more with less. Now more than ever, local governments are in need of tools and solutions that can enable them to more efficiently meet their civic engagement goals using every available communication channel. The key for local governments, however, is to choose solutions that are just as easy for citizens to engage with, as they are for administrators to manage.
Citizens see their local government as a trusted source of important information. For civic leaders, their citizens’ opinions, ideas, and suggestions are vital to shaping public policies and municipal initiatives. In order to most efficiently foster civic engagement and a sharing of information and ideas, civic communication and public information officers should adopt a multi-channel communication strategy. If you’re looking for new ways to amplify your civic messaging, consider these four best practices that will streamline your workflows and help ensure each communication is targeted and effective.
For municipalities, having an active social media presence with relevant content posted regularly can help boost your citizen following. Often times, finding relevant content to help keep your citizens engaged is the primary reason why social media accounts aren’t updated on a regular basis.
All the great email content in the world isn't going to do your local gov a bit of good if no one opens your email – which is why you need attention-grabbing headlines.
So here are the first 5 top tips to apply to become a master at writing subject lines (and check back next week for 5 more)...