Engaging and communicating with citizens as a local government has never been more important. Luckily, it has also never been easier. Local governments are looking for more ways to communicate effectively with their residents and they are expanding their search into new mediums. Traditionally, government communication has been done through traditional methods such as television, radio, and hosted websites. However, some local governments are reaching even further to improve citizen communication and bring themselves into the 21st century; this can do nothing but benefit the residents of a community.
Improved marketing potential
Marketing your town or community is vital for creating essential revenue that will be put toward the maintenance and upkeep of key infrastructure and services. If a local government is unable to effectively market their community new businesses will not be enticed to open their doors and existing businesses will ultimately suffer as well.
Gone are the days when a low-budget TV commercial would have been enough to attract new visitors to your area. A website can only do so much to inform and engage citizens when they have to seek out the site on their own. So how can your local government fix this?
Did you know 88 percent of young Americans (aged 18-24) use social media to some extent? Middle-aged Americans are not far behind with between 64-78 percent of this demographic using some form of social media.
So what does this tell us?
Social media is an effective way to market a town or community – especially to a younger demographic. Use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to post about all the good things happening in your area, like any new initiatives or community events coming up. Social media allows your community to interact with residents in an informal way – which can go a long way to instilling community pride. Another way to market your community is to hold contests over social media in order to win passes to a local concert or a prize pack from a local business. Promoting local attractions is a great way to increase visits as well as boost revenue.
Local governments who not already taking advantage of this popular (and free!) marketing opportunity, need to jump on the bandwagon and capitalize on the communication medium of the future!
Better operational notifications
Efficient communication is important not only for promoting and marketing a community but also for making sure operations run smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Operational communication may be anything from notifying residents about parking bans and road closures, to program changes and postponements.
Before local governments relied on television, radio, and good old-fashioned word of mouth to let community members know about any changes or potential disruptions to community life. However, these methods, while arguably fairly effective in their own ways, are not very efficient. Simply relying on these communication channels will not get your messages out as quick as you need to. Sure, if someone happened to be watching the television, listening to the radio, or talking to the right person at the right time, they will receive the message within a decent amount of time, but what about if not?
An automated mass notification system can help bring operational citizen communication to the next level by allowing municipal governments to send important operational messages directly to residents' preferred method of communication. Using multi-channel automation software, local governments can send out message blasts to all subscribed residents through more direct forms of communication than simply television or radio. Send messages via email, SMS, or phone call and have them received by residents of the community almost instantly!
Making sure community residents remain in the know about all the latest information about their area means there will be less overall confusion and chaos in the community whenever a disruption occurs. More knowledge means greater organization. Having a modern way of communicating with residents will ensure there is always ample notice given for any operational changes or updates and these updates will have the greatest reach possible within the community.
Efficient emergency communication
On the other side of the coin, efficient communication during emergencies is a paramount responsibility for local governments. Proper notifications are essential for determining the safety of all citizens who may be affected by any situation.
Again, the time for generalized outreach via common broadcast media can be fairly effective, however, in today's modern world, this may not be enough. When time is of the essence, as it no doubt is during most emergency scenarios, local governments need to be sure they have the infrastructure in place so they can reach as many people as possible within the shortest amount of time.
Like with everyday operational messages, it can benefit a local government to invest in a mass notification system they can use during emergencies to send emergency alerts to citizens via their preferred communication method. Such a platform can help save governments time during urgent situations through the use of pre-created messages that can be sent out at the press of a button or message templates that can be filled in with relevant information before being quickly deployed to citizens.
Having the ability to create templates in advance can save valuable time during an emergency so government emergency officials can focus their attention on mitigating the situation instead of worrying about the need to create a notification message to alert the masses. Effective, modern communication methods in an emergency save valuable time and allow government officials to work toward solving the issue while concurrently ensuring the safety and awareness of the area's residents.
Benefits of modern citizen communication
The ability for local governments to modernize their communication with the residents of their communities allows for a better organized and safer community all around. Being able to communicate directly with citizens can help maximize reach and guarantee a faster response time and open rate to help ensure that important messages are being received and opened in as timely a manner as possible.
Bringing citizen communication into the 21st century doesn't have to difficult. In fact, an automation platform can make citizen communication even easier! Schedule and send message blasts out to subscribed citizens automatically – whether for marketing, operational, or emergency purposes – and collect data in easy-to-read reports to analyze and determine how to better engage them. These messages can even be personalized (automatically) with each recipient's stored information so they can feel valued and special – without any extra work on the part of the sender.
Other tools like social media can help boost engagement with citizens and provide outreach to those citizens who have not yet subscribed to receive messages from the government. Tweets and Facebook posts can also be automated with the help of the same automation platform, meaning that there's very little extra work here as well for government employees.
Interested to see how automation can help bring your citizen communication into the 21st century?
Check out SimplyCast – an all-in-one communication automation solution that can help with daily and emergency communications between local governments and local residents.