7 Takeaways from UK government’s top communicators

Are you still measuring and delivering to the goals put in place when you launched your current digital channels? That was the first challenge posed to attendees at the 5th Annual UK Government Communications Conference.

At this year’s event, speakers across European, Central and Local government gathered to share strategies to delivering and measuring the impact of their digital communications goals.

Because even after business cases and board approvals are finalised, government communicators are challenged to constantly prove the value of their work. So how is your organisation measuring up? Read on and find out.

1)      When Evaluating Communications, Start with “PROOF” UKComm14_11 Nov_042

Kevin Traverse-Healy and Guy Dominy from Seeing More Clearly suggested starting any digital campaign off with key principles that provide structure around the evaluation process. They suggested the PROOF model, which is to ensure that evaluation is: pragmatic, realistic, open, objective, and fully integrated. By starting with a set of principles that all lead to the same goal (measuring the effect of communications), you can make sure there are no holes in the evaluation process and also set expectations around what you can and can’t measure.  For more information about successfully measuring and evaluating your communications, read Measuring Both Halves here.

2)      Email is The Foundation of Digital Outreach UKComm14_11 Nov_055

Colin Wood and Susannah Pike of Dorsetforyou.com recognised that digital communications is increasingly becoming a “fast, targeted and direct line to customers”. The council’s e-newsletters are sending a significant amount of traffic to their website and helping the council track residents’ actions so they can better react to their needs. In all, email is driving more interest to the councils’ website than social media. GovDelivery is the 5th referrer of Web traffic, totalling more than 43K page views in one month.

3)      Videos and Visual Content Increase Message Engagement UKComm14_11 Nov_083 (1)

Stephen Clark, who runs the awareness campaigns for European Parliament elections, talked about the value of video in engaging audiences across cultures and age groups. He estimated that on average every EU citizen over 17 saw a European Parliament election video ad 8.5 times over the course of election season. Contextualisation is especially important for video. By contextualising links and videos in the local language of the target audience, audience engagement increased significantly.

4)      Emails Are Effective for Internal Communications UKComm14_11 Nov_095

Matt Prout of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), talked about using the Department’s freshly designed “DECC Review”, its regular email newsletter, to show both internal and external audiences how the Department’s objectives are being delivered. By engaging internal staff with its communications, the Department is able to make the connection between staff’s day-to-day work and DECC’s overall business plan.

5)      Branding is an Emotional Connection With Your Audience UKComm14_11 Nov_070_s

Cormac Smith of LGCommunications talked to the importance of branding throughout every piece of your communications. Cormac emphasized that branding is more than the story you tell about yourself, it’s a “promise fulfilled”. What do you want people to think about your Council? Is that related to the promise you make to them? Is that promise being fulfilled? These are great questions to get you thinking about how you’re framing your communications to develop a trustworthy relationship with the communities you serve.

6) Testing Can and Should Inform Change 

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Jay Fordham and Jessie VanBeck from Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) presented the iterative design of DVSA’s newsletter “Moving On”, which in the last couple years transitioned from a print newsletter to a digital-only email newsletter. They call the latest iteration their “perfect product for the moment”, recognising that succeeding in digital means constant evolution and improvement. By closely following the metrics, DVSA realized they were not sending out newsletters in the format that was most engaging for their audience. So the agency started using “read more” links to the GOV.UK website to get clear metrics on what articles were most important to readers. This gave the agency more information on what content was performing best so they could better meet their readers’ needs.

7) Don’t be Afraid to Fail, but Fail Fast 

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Dale Shepherd from Shropshire Council, talked about the Council’s pilot with WhatsApp, a mobile application that allows people to text Council elected officials with inquiries and feedback, helping the public better connect with their council members. The Council is trying out the system on a two-week trial basis and they’re not afraid to be experimental. “We take risks so you don’t have to. Sometimes it works. Sometimes we do crash and burn”, Dale said. Digital technologies are constantly evolving but Shropshire Council continues to test and try new things to serve their community.

For more information on how you can integrate metrics and measurement into your communications to transform the way your government organization influences, communicates and interacts with the people you serve, download Measuring Both Halves or watch the full UKComm14 conference videos here.

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