The government is home to troves of data – data that is timely, relevant and critical to you. However, getting you the information in a prompt, clear and concise fashion is a HUGE challenge for agencies. GovDelivery is trying to alleviate some of the challenges by sharing their digital communications best practices during the Power of the Reach Tour. (Find a tour stop near you here.)
The tour brings together experts in government and industry to share the inside scoop on how to grow your audience, gain trust, and provide critical information in a timely manner to your customers.
Scott Burns, the CEO of GovDelivery, sat down with us to give GovLoopers a preview of the next tour stop in Austin, Texas on March 19th.
Q&A with Scott Burns:
Q. Why did GovDelivery launch the Power of the Reach Tour?
- A: “When we go out and meet with our clients around the country and in Europe we find that there are a lot of very interesting things going in terms of how outreach and digital communications are being used to transform government in a really positive way. When someone comes to one of the Tour events, whether it is a client or just someone in the public sector, they’ll learn more about the impact that communications is already having.”
What three things will someone can take away from a Tour stop?
- Share Best Practices: “We are going to share openly what we have learned in working with over 1,000 public sector agencies. We will share the kinds of things they do to use communications as a strategic tool to improve the work they do on a daily basis.”
- Bring Government Examples: “We’ve put together some incredibly informative public sector panels. In Austin, we have speakers from the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Comptroller’s Office who are going to be there talking about the work they have done. Not just the technologies they have used, but how the use of those technologies and the ability to grow their online audience has impacted the bottom line, the mission they are trying to achieve and the dollars they are trying to bring in or save.”
- Get a Community Perspective:“We have the President of GovLoop coming in, who is going to provide a keynote that will give a little more context on what’s going on with technology, communications and citizen engagement in government.”
Q. Has there been a shift in the way government communicates with the public in the past few years?
- The Old Guard: “For years, government thought of communications as a reactive public affairs exercise. Government communicates better when it is either reacting to something or promoting something general; a new park, a new program, a new elected official.”
- Transition to New: “Government agencies can now use technology to reach an individual on an issue that is specifically interesting to that individual, or that the individual might want to take action on. The transition has been made possible by more direct communication technologies like email, text messages, and social media. We have really gone from the press release, which is more of a public affairs type of communication, to almost direct marketing of government services. These are messages that make people’s lives better. Sometimes it involves something very direct, like buying a fishing license from the government; sometimes it involves just learning about something going on in public health that a person can use to make their own life better, like getting a flu shot or not giving their kids soda.”
“The transition is really about reaching a large number of people with information that is relevant to those individuals and helps them change their behavior or life in a way that makes a difference for them while also making government work better. That’s where the impact from this transformation from public affairs to direct communications has had such impressive results.”
Q. How do you get people to sign up for email alerts?
- Good Content: “Do a really good job of setting up valuable content online. Good content on social media, good content on the website, content that is easy to find and easy to read.”
- Easy Access: “Make sure when people are out looking for information, whether they are on a search engine and showing up on the website or whether they are on social media, that you make it possible for somebody to sign up and give you information about themselves in real-time. Just like an online retailer will have an Add to Cart button right there in a prominent position trying to get you to make a purchase, we find that government has the opportunity to be forward in terms of offering citizens the ability to self-identify interest and say, ‘Hey, I want to sign up for this information because I am interested in it, and I want to get updates on it in the future.'”
- Cross Promotion: “Start using some of the tried-and-true online retail strategies. We do a lot of things within our organization to encourage our clients to cross-promote content. It starts with just cross-promoting content within your own agency. If someone signs up for a fishing license from Texas Fish and Wildlife, we can make sure that they can also sign up for updates on their favorite lakes or campgrounds at the same time. Then, we take it a step further and make it possible for different agencies in Texas and different agencies around the country to work together in promoting other government information. So, someone on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website can finish their process of signing up for updates there and then sign up for updates on health at the same time.”
For dates and time for the Power of the Reach Tour, click here. If you are unable to make it, you can also check out the archives here.