- Success Story
- Kitsap County
How Kitsap County Grew Its Audience by 25% With Trusted Communications During COVID-19
Kitsap County faced challenges that many governments experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic: the rapid spread of misinformation and a surge in citizen demand for constant updates. To deliver reliable messages and build trust with residents, the County used govDelivery to scale communications efforts — with limited staff and resources.
- 25% Growth The County gained almost 10,000 new subscribers in 3 months.
- 40.6% Open Rate The County’s email metrics demonstrated high engagement.
- 50K Subscribers The County grew its subscriber base by double-digits, year over year.
- 1 Small Team The comms manager coordinates with 50 topic administrators to a results.
Too Much Information & Misinformation
Like many governments, Kitsap County experienced an increase in citizen demand for information during the COVID-19 crisis.
The County also saw misinformation growing, particularly on social media. “At times, we saw a lot of people commenting on things that were misleading or incorrect. We were monitoring information at the local, state, and regional levels and watching for anything contradictory. We wanted to be proactive in our communication to set the record straight, and keep people safe,” said Doug Bear, the County’s communications manager.
With thirty years of experience, Bear knew it was imperative that residents receive consistent, reliable messaging from government leaders as part of their coronavirus response. To achieve that messaging, Bear recommended that the Joint Information Center (JIC), which supports the County’s Emergency Operation Center, use govDelivery, Granicus’ digital engagement platform for email, social, and text communications. The County has used govDelivery for nearly nine years. During that time, they saw double-digit percentage growth in their subscriber base, year over year. The software would allow the County to provide a consistent message across multiple channels and allow residents to easily subscribe to stay informed.
A Consistent Message for Crisis Response
From the beginning of the pandemic, the County distributed a daily bulletin across key communication channels via govDelivery. The bulletin displayed County branding to establish trust and authority. The software also enabled them to create a reusable template for consistent elements, so residents were familiar with the bulletin layout and knew what to look for.
To address residents’ most critical information needs, staff gathered information from call centers, the media, and other channels to understand what questions were on citizens’ minds. Responses to those questions were developed as topics in the daily bulletin. Call center staff encouraged callers to subscribe to email updates when they had questions. This reduced future calls and offered a better form of proactive communication.
Additionally, JIC staff monitored media outlets to fight misinformation. “If we saw a lot of people commenting on something and the information posted was incorrect, we knew that we needed to reinforce that message directly at the channel but also reinforce it with our daily bulletin as well.”
Bear also relied on the software’s metrics and data to determine what worked. “We look at bulletin analytics. We look at a topic analytics. We ask if our message is actually reaching somebody.”
25% Increase in Subscribers Affirms Trust
In the first three months of the County’s COVID-19 response, they received nearly 10,000 new subscribers, or 25% growth. They sent 372 coronavirus-related bulletins that reached 3.9 million people, with an outstanding open rate of 40.6%.
While email is the most successful channel for the County, they also had success in other channels. Their SMS messages reached a record-breaking 830,000 recipients. The County’s Twitter and Facebook both saw 10% growth.
Kitsap County doesn’t have a large communications team. Bear manages the call center but doesn’t have communications staff that report directly to him. He uses govDelivery to manage content that comes from 50 contributors. “I couldn’t be as effective in managing the County’s communications needs without govDelivery. You don’t have to be a technician or a technical person to use it, and it allows us to leverage messages to social media, our SMS recipients, and our email subscribers easily and efficiently,” said Bear.
With a new subscriber base, Bear plans to remind the larger audience that there are over 100 topics they can subscribe to, from inclement weather to road closures, while still engaging those interested in COVID-19 during a recovery phase.