By Lance Horne, General Manager, GovDelivery Federal
More than 30 years ago, an ad agency came up with a tagline to soften AT&T’s image and position the company as an indispensable element of everyday American life: “Reach out and touch someone.” After spending the last 15-plus years working within the public sector in a variety of roles, I’ve formed some strong opinions about how agencies can leverage technology to communicate more effectively with citizens. I’ve also seen how more effective government-to-citizen (G2C) communications can boost an agency’s image and position it as an essential part of citizens’ lives, much like AT&T managed to do with its “Reach out” campaign. Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of my thinking on this, starting with today’s post that focuses on G2C outreach and communication.
Government agencies have come a long way over the years in jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon – more are using web sites, Facebook and a variety of other social media channels to try to facilitate communications with citizens. But one area that’s still a quandary is how to get better at G2C communications, meaning ensuring that targeted information reaches the right audience, measuring the impact of communication efforts, and providing a conduit for citizens to not just consume information, but to react and respond to it. Many government agencies still rely on the more traditional forms of communication to get information to targeted groups of citizens, including advertising, print media, and channels that rely on physical delivery services.
Government agencies, much like industry entities, are most effective when efforts are focused on meeting the core mission. Things like defending our country, coordinating the logistics involved in keeping people fed and safe after a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, and maintaining vital services are just a few of the areas where government focus is critical. It’s understandable that agencies might not have the time – or the expertise – to figure out how to more effectively reach out and touch citizens with vital communications. Clearly, leveraging industry providers with innovative and efficient technological offerings that have the capacity to effectively reach millions of recipients is a better approach.
Anyone who works within government realizes that you’re always going to be asked to do more with less. It’s been a general mandate for the past several years and isn’t going away anytime soon. So what do you do to boost G2C communications? One way is to develop a subscriber base and to immediately adopt subscribers from agencies with interests similar to your own. Working with the right industry G2C partner is something that agencies can do right off the bat to boost their profile and reach out and engage constituents more effectively.
If part of your overall mission is to have better relationships with citizens, then having a process in place for good G2C communications can help you accomplish that. And in the words of the AT&T tagline, you’ll be better able to reach out and touch someone.
Watch for more of my thoughts in coming weeks on topics such as cloud computing, improving communications with returning military and their families, and mining big information and ideas using big data technologies. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your thoughts on G2C communications. What challenges are you having in this area? What successes?