Clerks are the backbone of state and local government. Without them, there would be no one to file and manage important records, run transparent elections, or record and file public meetings and agendas. However, when clerks don’t have the tools to do their role effectively, engagement and transparency can fall to the wayside.
At the recent International Institute of Municipal Clerks annual conference in Norfolk, Virginia, we sat down with a room full of clerks and municipal employees to discuss ways they can be more proactive about nurturing a culture of engagement and transparency.
During the presentation, Granicus’ Sam Morton, Vice President of State and Local Solutions; Byron Gillin, Solutions Director; and Chris Peck, Solutions Engineer discussed what modernizing government services looks like in the office of the clerk.
Morton started off the discussion by explaining the current landscape of the public’s interaction with government. “People are now, more than ever, becoming involved in government and want to have an active voice,” he explained. “However, they’re no longer going to meetings to learn and want to get their information and learn about what’s going on through digital channels.”
This means that local government staff will have to develop a strategy to cope with the higher demand for information, transparency and collaboration from the public. While achieving these goals may seem overwhelming, it is possible to change processes without adding more work.
The key to doing so is leveraging the work you are already doing and looking for more opportunities to engage with your community. “This is where the role of communications comes into the legislative processes,” Gillin said. “Your citizens are used to receiving communications from everyone else, so you need to give it to them on the channels they want whether its email, text or social media.”
Fortunately, digital tools allow clerks offices to develop integrated public meetings that can reach every constituent. Peck explained that when starting out on your modernization journey, there are four main things to consider:
- Functional integration: Clerks and communications departments need to work together to create one cohesive message.
- Digital and live integration: Messages need to be available in person and digitally.
- Message integration: All aspects of messages, including dates, branding and copy need to be consistent no matter who in the city the message is coming from.
- User friendliness: Digital tools have to be intuitive and allow all users to leverage them without training.
By actively pursuing integration across these four areas, you can easily adopt tools to create a seamless, end-to-end agenda management experience that reaches every constituent, leading to higher rates of engagement and participation.
No matter where you are on your modernization journey, it is always helpful to see how others have achieved success. Check out how St. Paul, MN got two-thirds of its 300,000 residents to subscribe to their communications or how Louisville, KY increased their reach to residents by 500 percent and implemented digital voting, live-streaming video and archived video. If you’re ready to get started yourself, request a meeting with a Granicus representative.