The end of the year means many things to many different people. From holiday parties, time spent with family and friends, and warm nights by the fire, December definitely has its advantages. However, this time of year is also a time for stress, change, and yes, you guessed it, transitions.
And no matter what your own opinions are on the current Presidential transition, and all the changes that are happening, you still have a job to do, and you still have citizens to serve. Because of that, GovDelivery focused its latest and last Breakfast Event of the year on Updating Your Digital Communications Strategy for 2017.
At the event, Gwynne Kostin, Senior Advisor, Business Transformation, Partnership for Public Service, and Natalie Fedie, VP of Client Success here at GovDelivery, gave us some useful information on what to expect in the Presidential transition, and how to best plan for 2017.
One of the first points that Kostin made was the importance of building each other up to best deliver on our missions. In fact, Kostin illustrated her point by talking about, ironically, chickens. A study done by Purdue University, she said, started to breed only the highest performing chickens—so-called ‘super chickens’—with each other for six generations. And at the end of this period, what did they find? That the super chickens had produced even more eggs and were living luxurious lives in their chicken coops? No. They discovered that the competitive nature of the super chickens had gotten the best of them, and that they had actually started pecking each other to death. Not exactly the kind of atmosphere you want to create at your workplace, is it?
So, what did Kostin suggest?
“We as government employees need to differentiate ourselves in a more collaborative way,” she stressed. “We need to ensure that everyone is willing and able to help each other; we must avoid becoming super chickens.” And as silly or crazy as that advice might sound, it’s important to keep in mind as we move towards a new year and a new administration.
Because we aren’t going back, the digital age is here, and, as the private sector has shown, citizens are now demanding more from agencies in terms of access to information. And while much has changed in the realm of digital technology, two aspects, the people and the process, remain top priority through it all, according to Kostin. Agencies should focus on finding better hires with the necessary skillset, and the processes through which citizen engagement is best fostered.
There is another key aspect of digital engagement, though, and while Kostin says that in the past it has shifted from technology to product, now what agencies need to focus on is performance.
“There are different ways to approach the future to have success,” Kostin said. “It’s important to think about the options that are available to you, because if you’re stuck in a bad situation and you only one way of operating, you’re going to fail.” And, as Fedie reminded us, this isn’t the same old challenge.
“As priorities are turning to efficiencies and cost savings,” she reminded us, “there is an unprecedented change in the ways we use technology. And so, the right path forward also requires a change in direction. We have to mix things up.”
How do you mix things up, though, when you have time and budget restraints? Fedie provides four easy-to-follow steps:
Assess Digital Engagement Efforts
Look at what you’ve accomplished in the past year and see what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Think about what communications strategies worked well this year at your organization, how many subscribers you have, and your overall engagement rate. From this, present your findings in a meaningful way to your executives. Make your case for what digital engagement strategies have worked in the past and work to educate the incoming leadership.
Align Digital Communications With Strategic Priorities for 2017
Most likely, there will be some sort of change in your organization’s strategic priorities in 2017. Think about what you know in regards to what that change might entail, and make sure you have a plan for how you’ll measure future success. Will your audience change? Do you think you’ll need to increase your reach? Who are you targeting, what are your engagement goals for 2017? Are they any new tools or strategies you’re planning to use in 2017? Think on all of this, and decide whether or not you need to change any outlooks or plans for 2017 to better align yourself and your organization with the incoming administration.
Execute Digital Communications Strategies to Impact Outcomes
Once you know what’s worked in the past, and what you need to accomplish now, you need to dive right in to reach, engage, and convert your audience using digital communications. To increase your agency reach, try adding a subscriber signup overlay to the most visited pages on your website. From there, you can try using text messaging to connect with new members, and increase enrollment in your programs with custom messages. Diving in and doing your best to drive change at your agency is a great tool to show this new administration that you are valuable and capable of doing your job, and doing it well.
Report on Your Success
To really make an impact with what you’re achieving with digital communications and engagement at your agency, it’s crucial to demonstrate the return of investment of your efforts. Think about what has changed, how many new subscribers you have now, your new overall engagement rate, what pieces of content saw the highest levels of engagement? Show the higher ups that you’ve impacted change, and you’ve made a difference.
In order to fully achieve your digital communications goals and be a change maker at your agency, it’s crucial to align with the new leadership in this coming new year. So, work together, and work hard, and most importantly, don’t become a super chicken.
Do you want help planning your 2017 digital communications strategy? Here is the 2017 Transition Workbook that can help.