Measuring mission impact: one size does not fit all

Boy Wearing Men's Dress Shoes and SuitThe “One Size Fits All” method might work for Little League t-shirts, but when it comes to government communications, “One Size Fits All” is a real strikeout.

It seems like a no-brainer to say that every organization should determine its own unique set of communications goals, delivery, and metrics, right? Surprisingly, however, this is one of the most commonly overlooked steps in the process. There are a few big mistakes that government agencies make in this area; let’s take a closer look at each.

Goals

Say you’re going on a road trip and you want to see how your new car handles over long distances. Sure, you could simply grab some Doritos, sync up the iPod and start driving, but is that really the smartest way to do it? If you don’t have a clear destination in mind when you leave, how will you figure out the best way to get there and evaluate the trip when it’s over? Figuring out clear goals before you launch a communications campaign is essential to spreading your message effectively. Each organization has its own unique mission and each communications campaign should also have its own unique set of goals. It’s important to remember that public sector goals are almost always vastly different from private sector goals, so attempting to mimic a private company’s marketing tactics is a shortcut that can bite back big time in the long run.

Delivery

All too often, when it comes to content delivery, government organizations focus on more and faster instead of better and in the right way. Once you’ve got a clear idea of your goals and how it supports your organization’s mission, you need to strategically shape your delivery methods around that mission. Sharing as much information as possible the second you obtain it isn’t always an effective strategy for conveying a clear message, drawing attention or inspiring trust among your stakeholders. Consider your medium carefully. If there’s a weather emergency, perhaps SMS and email alerts are the best method of delivery. If you’re launching a flu shot campaign, maybe an email that leads to a landing page with important statistics and a way to find the nearest clinic that offers flu shots coupled with a targeted direct mail campaign would be effective. Anyone who’s ever argued with an in-law at the dinner table knows that how you say something is just as important as what you say. The same concept applies here.

Measurement

Accurately evaluating marketing tactics is one of the trickiest parts of government communications. This is an area where the divide between the private sector and public sector is most apparent. Where private sector companies are primarily driven by sales and therefore have hard numbers (i.e. revenue) to help gauge their success, public sector missions are generally more intangible, and thus harder to measure.  By defining a measurable goal before you begin a campaign, you’ll be better positioned to get the information you need at the end.

So now that we’ve run through all the things that you shouldn’t do and briefly touched on those that you should, what’s the next step? Our recent webinar, “Meeting Mission Goals with Your Communications,” goes in-depth on this topic and provides you with real-life examples of organizations that are doing it right. Amy Larsen, Client Success Consultant with GovDelivery, helps you understand how to better evaluate your effect on stakeholders, highlight your team’s successes and increase your mission impact.

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