Citizen Engagement at the Department of the Interior


If we asked you a few years ago what the U.S. Department of the Interior is and what it does as a government agency, would you know? In 2009 after conducting research about this very question, the Interior realized that for the vast majority of the public, the answer was a resounding “no.” The Interior’s communications weren’t utilizing the latest digital trends to keep stakeholders in the loop with its mission. The organization wasn’t using social media to its fullest extent,  and creating breaking news press releases and email updates were tedious tasks.

Director of Digital Strategy Tim Fullerton knew that the Interior needed a communications makeover, and in 2011 the organization implemented GovDelivery. Using a website overlay, along with a revamped social media and communications strategy, the Interior built a new foundation for its digital presence.

One of the key tactics in building out this digital presence was using the Interior’s assets already at its disposal – images of the Nation’s lands. We all know a picture says a thousand words, and in the digital age, words are at a premium. For the Interior, pictures have become one of its most powerful tools. Because the department manages all of the United States national parks, its Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts are overflowing with gorgeous, highly sharable images—including the one below.

This photo was recently posted on America’s Great Outdoors, Interior’s Tumblr Account. Photo credit: Joe Milmoe, USFWS

Engaging with citizens through social media is one of the key ways the Interior has significantly increased its audience and helped answer that all-important “What do you do, again?” question. But, as with any good communications plan, email remains at the core of its strategy. By making sure to connect its email with social media outlets, the Interior makes sure that even those who aren’t constantly plugged in to Twitter and Tumblr can still subscribe to the department’s daily updates or weekly digests, including its daily image updates. In fact, Interior’s Tumblr, “America’s Great Outdoors,” is one of the most popular email topics, with 38,000 people signed up to receive messages on the topic. Overall since 2011, the Interior’s outreach has increased by a whopping 2840%. For more stats on Interior’s successes, read the full case study here.

Have you implemented new digital communication strategies or tactics as a result of stakeholder feedback? What did your process entail? Let us know in the comments below!

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