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Your Questions Answered: Reaching the Modern Citizen

This week, Granicus hosted a monthly webinar titled “Five Ways to Engage the Modern Citizen” that drew hundreds of government employees together to learn from Amelia Helm, Product Marketing Strategist and Jackie Cole, Digital Engagement Strategist at Granicus. Not only did speakers cover valuable information on who the modern citizen is and what platforms they use most for communicating, they also spoke to specific public examples of how government organizations are reaching people where they are.

In response to this highly popular topic, the speakers received dozens of questions that provided valuable insight into the process and struggles of connecting digitally with citizens that our customers face. With just an hour to cover a large topic, here are the questions and answers we were unable to cover during the webinar:

  • Question from Tri-City Mental Health: Our agency serves a low-income population which often times do not have internet access or have smart phones. How can we still engage them?

For low-income or hard to reach populations, text messaging can be a great option for connecting. Unlike other platforms for engagement, text messaging doesn’t require a smartphone or broadband access. According to the latest Pew Research, 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind. This also might be a great time to survey your audience when participants receive program or service information from your agency – a simple question like: What is the best way to reach you? Can provide a great deal of insight into your audiences’ communication preferences.

  • Question from the City of Providence, RI: Are there specific programs that are low or no cost that you recommend using for engaging residents?

There are a lot of great ways to connect with your audience that are free or low cost to your organization – the hard part is figuring out which options are most strategic for your organization. One free platform is on social media. Starting Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn accounts are free, and advertisements on these platforms are relatively affordable compared to other large-scale ads like print, radio, or television advertisements.

Of all outreach methods, email has been proven to have the highest return on investment of any platform. That’s because it’s the fastest way to connect with a large audience and empower them to choose their preferences on topics and resources they find valuable. For more information, check out the digital communications platform with the largest network in government: the GovDelivery Communications Cloud.

  • Question from the City of Ann Arbor, MI: What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a digital strategy that involves creating meaningful pieces of content with the purpose of attracting and retaining an audience. In the public sector, content marketers set out on a journey to accomplish some or all of the following goals:

  1. To raise awareness in a program, service, or topic
  2. To engage citizens on some level within a public process
  3. To change citizen behavior over time

Whether on your website or on your blog, content marketing is surrounded by growth strategies and measurable by digital engagement metrics to determine success. Granicus will be publishing the first Content Marketing Guide for the public sector in April, so stay tuned for more information!

  • Question from the City of Las Vegas: Can you talk more on your eComment tool: how does it work, how is it captured as a business record; how does it provide information to the board, live, during a meeting?

eComment is one of Granicus’ solutions that provides an easy way to add voices to the democratic process and makes participation in public meetings more convenient with a web-based form tightly integrated with your published agenda. Residents can review agenda item details, indicate their position on an item and leave feedback, which elected officials can review in-meeting. The leaders of the public meeting monitor their device (whether it’s an ipad or a laptop) and gain valuable citizen feedback to any discussion. It’s a great way for citizens to participate in public discussions without being physically present. For more information on eComment, please email info@granicus.com.

  • Question from Marin County, CA: Are these resources examples available anywhere other than Twitter? Thanks!

Absolutely! Here are links to the resources mentioned during this week’s webinar on engaging the modern citizen:

For any additional resources or information on Granicus solutions, please email us at info@granicus.com.