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Breakfast Series Recap: A Special Highlight of GovDelivery Award Winners

Ever wonder how Bill Gates spends his days at work? Wish you could talk to Mark Zuckerberg to learn about his best practices? Well, you’re not alone.

When you’re looking at ways to improve your own work, a good question to ask is, “how do the best of the best do their jobs?” Having a good example to follow is a great way to implement change for yourself or for your agency, whether that be a good mentor to help with your career path, or a guide on how to take advantage of cloud technology. Digital communications, for instance, in government is a crucial aspect of providing efficient citizen services and maintaining a strong relationship with the public. Public sector communications leaders provide the necessary tools to connect citizens with the government, acting as a central component in agency operations.

At GovDelivery’s recent Digital Engagement Breakfast Series event, winners of the 2016 Digital Strategy and Impact Awards shared their tips for digital communications best practices. Jeff Meisel, Chief Marketing Officer at the Census Bureau, Shakia Baskerville, Public Affairs Specialist for the Food and Drug Administration, and Jamie Hammond, Director of Online Engagement, Operations and Media at the IRS, each provided lessons learned and strategies suggest for improving digital communications.

Use multi-channel communication strategies to increase citizen engagement.

Baskerville emphasized that in order to increase citizen engagement and appeal to a diverse crowd, it’s important to take advantage of a wide array of social media platforms, as well as your agency’s website. By creating campaigns, such as the FDA’s #ILoveMyHeart social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, citizens can gauge the mission of your organization, as well as connect with you on a more user-friendly level.

Hammond also advocates for a multi-platform approach. In fact, one of the IRS’s most popular applications is the “Where’s My Refund?” tracker. Users can refresh the mobile app to get an accurate, updated description of the status of their tax refund. By looking at the data for individual website pages, Hammond was able to see what users were coming to the website for and from there implement website content changes to better serve their needs. By engaging with the IRS.gov website, as well as the mobile phone application, Hammond is able to reach a broad range of citizens and encourage them to interact with the agency.

Focus on mission-driven outcomes to change citizen behavior.

By making data accessible to citizens, Meisel said he is able to latch onto a mission-focused communications platform and show the importance and power of Census data. Using this strategy, Meisel and his team informed the public about critical Census information and increased citizen engagement. This strategy also created a community of people who want to see the agency improve. They can sign up for “developer newsletters” and submit improvement ideas for the organization’s website and email communications.

Develop cohesive outreach campaigns.

At the IRS, clarity is the guiding principle for its digital communications strategies. Because tax laws can be confusing, the IRS works hard to make sure that citizens are getting the best information out there to help them understand their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. Along with the “Where’s My Refund?” app, Hammond also advocates having more online, self-serve functions on government websites. In doing so, the people who have a frequently asked question or need to complete a simple task can do so online. This allows citizens with more complicated and critical issues to get through the phone lines faster and connect with someone who can help them quickly and efficiently.

Meisel suggested taking an integrative marketing approach around a new product launch to gauge possible citizen involvement in such a campaign. To better incorporate public input and boost engagement, having a longer build-up of a new campaign is crucial. Baskerville also recommended taking advantage of GovDelivery’s digital services, as well as planning further out from a campaign launch to get the maximum number of citizens aware and immersed.

By implementing these strategies, your agency’s digital communications team can go from good to great. So learn from the best, and take advantage of these great tips!

To read more about award-winning best practices, and to see the full list of award winners, check out the event here.