A blog about digital government, communications, citizen satisfaction & engagement, GovDelivery, and other e-government issues
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In 2014, around 100 U.K. government communication professionals were surveyed to determine the most important trends driving public sector communication with the public and stakeholders. GovDelivery published the results in an e-book, the UK Trends E-book. Here are some of the findings. trends-uk

Naturally, there were varied responses to our survey; however, communicators tended to share the top three trends overall:

  1. Focus on Results
  2. Implement a Multichannel Strategy
  3. Increase Outreach

Focus On Results

The goal of many government communicators is to broadcast their organisation’s mission so that more people become involved in their programs.

According to the survey results, 43% of respondents said that increasing stakeholder engagement was one of the top objectives for communications planning. When an organisation communicates its goals, it puts the public at the center of a communications strategy, allowing the public to take action on the messages they receive.

Over time, communicators can measure results with engagement rates, web traffic, subscriber rates, and social media shares or follows.

Implement a Multichannel Strategy

While email still stands out as the most effective channel of communication, a multi-faceted communications strategy is preferred by many communicators.

With a multichannel communications approach, different segments of the public are more likely to be reached. Again, with the recent surge in the use of smart phones, tablets, and other smart technologies, if you want to reach people with a message, you need to send it to them through the appropriate channels.

Increase Outreach

It seems fairly obvious that to be successful in any organisation you must be able to increase your audience size. Building on that, organisations must also engage that audience to create a participatory interaction.

In our recent survey, 78% of professionals said that increased outreach was of utmost importance. A popular and proven way of gaining more subscribers is the cross-promotion across the network of public sector entities. Collaboration opens up each organisation to a wider audience.

The GovDelivery Network gives government organisations the chance to connect with other public sector entities, meaning network partners can reach a wider audience by connecting with over 60 Local and Central government entities affiliated with the GovDelivery Network.

Download the Full UK Trends E-book

These 2014 public sector trends show how important taking multiple communication approaches is for any organisation. By emphasizing results, implementing a multichannel strategy, and increasing outreach, government communicators are able to expand beyond the current limitations of their organisations and make a difference with their messages.

Take a look at our UK Trends E-book to learn more about these trends in greater depth.

Lowering local crime rates is the goal of every law enforcement agency, but it’s not an easy goal to achieve. Local police departments create crime tip phone lines; however, calling isn’t always the best option to report crimes. And in this more digital world, many citizens prefer to use channels they’re already using. For this reason, Stearns County Sheriff’s department decided to use the power of email to increase citizen engagement. infographic_th_stearnscounty

Stearns County Sheriff’s implemented new digital communication strategies in order to increase crime tips from the community and increase the number of citizens communicating with the Sheriff’s office.

Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was looking for a way to strengthen communication between the department and the community. Its overall objective was to reduce crime by offering the community more ways to provide timely information to aid in the efficient prevention and solving of crimes. According to MarketingProfs, 88 percent of marketers believe that email provides a substantial ROI – and because of high success rates like these – Stearns County Sheriff’s office decided that email was its best bet in lowering crime rates with communications.

Strategies for Improved Communication

To reach the objectives set forth by the sheriff’s department, GovDelivery worked out a few digital communication strategies. By using a combination of SMS/text messaging and emails, GovDelivery projected that Stearns Country could:

  • expand its outreach;
  • increase its visibility;
  • grow its audience;
  • and empower citizens.

To assist the department in reaching these objectives, GovDelivery designed an email template that was mobile-optimized and user-friendly. This email template consistently reminded citizens that they could and should submit a tip every time they received an email from the Sheriff’s Office. It also enabled citizens to quickly submit tips instead of calling in or reporting the tips in person.

Final Results

After implementing the plan set forth by GovDelivery, Stearns County Sheriff’s Office saw an increase in the number of tips submitted by 533%! The majority of tips were coming from email (57%) as opposed to social media (2%) or phone calls (16%).*

Email and SMS/text message marketing are powerful tools to help government organizations reach their mission goals. Other significant findings from Stearns County Sheriff’s Office use of digital communications to achieve its crime reduction goals are summarized in the Stearns County: Power of Email Infographic, available for download here.

*Total tips does not account for tips submitted directly to detectives or submitted via phone to a source that was not tracked.

Last week, the Federal Consulting Group (FCG) hosted the 2014 Government Customer Satisfaction Forum. The program was jam-packed with public sector and private sector experts, including:

  • Ross Smith from the Office of Technology for the Veterans Administration spoke on his efforts to increase satisfaction of different tech-related interactions
  • Dr. Forrest Morgeson with the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) shared the 2013 government-wide customer satisfaction benchmarks
  • Sheri Petras of CFI Group discussed government call center satisfaction results
  • Dave Lewan with ForeSee released the Q4 2013 results for Federal e-government satisfaction surveys

There was a ton of great information presented. For those who didn’t have the chance to attend, I summarized some of the day’s highlights, while calling out the points I found most interesting (so if you don’t have time to read it all, just skim the highlighted version!).

Sheri Petras, CEO of CFI Group, presented findings on call center satisfaction results and discussed the various methods that customers used to contact government, including phone, online channels, social media and more. One takeaway was the effect of interactive voice response, or IVR, satisfaction for customers, which scored low enough that Petras encouraged all attendees to call their agency to see how the IVR menu works. She also highlighted the statistic that about one-third of people 65 or older prefer digital or online channels. That’s a trend we have noted previously, too.

But the most interesting data point in Petras’ presentation was the drastic increase in people who contacted the government via phone (versus online channels) from 2012 to 2013. And that’s where Dr. Morgeson’s presentation was able to shed some light on decreased online channel usage.

Dr. Morgeson revealed the government-wide customer satisfaction benchmarks for 2013, with the Federal government coming in at 66 (on a scale of 100). This was a 3.4% decline from 2012, and the largest decline since 2010. Surprisingly, ACSI attributes the drop to government agency websites: “…in particular, users find the sites more difficult to navigate, less reliable, and the information provided less useful.”

Petras’ data around increased phone usage makes a lot of sense in this context: if government customers are frustrated and unable to find the information they need online, they’re going to reach for the phone; which is why Dr. Morgeson emphasized that websites and digital channels were an important lever to increasing customer satisfaction.  His commentary on this was astute: with the increased effort to shift citizens to digital self-service channels, websites are going to be bogged down with traffic, and if the website is overloaded with information and suffers from unclear navigation, the process becomes frustrating for customers.

But, in my opinion, Dave Lewan with ForeSee had the most provocative and strategic takeaway for attendees, one that most clearly identifies the underlying issue at play here: government organizations are serving up enormous amounts of content on the Web, through mobile sites or apps, as well as via traditional and social media channels. In this multichannel world, how can the content that a particular customer wants or needs be delivered easily and consistently – without a ton of digging through websites, scrolling through newsfeeds, or having to call customer service?

This is where data is your best friend. As noted at the forum, data is critical to customer satisfaction. To serve your audience, you need to know what’s working for them and what’s not; what they’re interested in and what they need. So how do you do that? For the first part, measuring customer satisfaction with your digital and traditional communications channels can help you understand what’s working and what’s not.

But you also need to get more granular: what information does your customer want or need, and how do you serve that up to him or her? Sometimes, the best answer is the most simple: ask them. Ask your customers to identify their topics of interest. Ask them if they want to receive proactive notifications when content on your website or blog has changed or when new information has been added. Then deliver those notifications to them via email or text message when they want it. Ask them if they’re interested in getting a digest of your social media content delivered right to their inbox, so they know that they’re not missing what your organization posts to Twitter or YouTube. Your customers will appreciate that you are taking the time and effort to deliver a more personalized experience for them. In fact, recent private sector marketing studies have found that consumers are willing to share information about themselves, such as age, gender, and hobbies, to receive more personalized offers.

Some of the top-rated government websites for the last quarter of 2013 have this functionality already built into their customer experiences. MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus en español, the National Women’s Health Information Center, and the Social Security Administration all offer customers the option to receive updates with “the latest information on the…topics that matter to you most” (from the MedlinePlus website).

WomensHealth.gov - website MedlinePlus - website

This is just one way to better serve your customers with the information they need and want. Another clear way to improve customer service is by updating your agency’s website navigation to become more user-friendly. Ultimately, there are many ways to improve the customer satisfaction score with your organization, but these two levers can make an immediate impact on your customers’ satisfaction level.

What is your agency doing to measure and improve your customers’ satisfaction? I’d love to hear your thoughts and initiatives.

3-trends-fedWhat are the top priorities for government communications in 2014 at the federal and local levels? This is the question we posed to 350 government communicators. Take a look at what they said about focusing on results, implementing multichannel strategy, and increasing outreach in this infographic, or grab a copy of the federal government report or the state & local government report to read on your own.

Focus on results with a multichannel strategy

Boosting engagement and targeted messaging were the top two communication priorities at the federal, state and local government levels. However, other areas of focus differed between these levels of government. At the federal level, better content, mobile, and leveraging social media are being prioritized in that order. While at the local level, the priorities focused on mobile, leveraging social media, and better content. This trend indicates that state and local governments  are looking for new ways to “spread the word” on their content and make it available on mobile devices and social networks.

The majority of respondents from the federal government and local governments agreed that growing the size of their digital audience is a priority for 2014. They are also heavily focused on email and social media. However, the majority of respondents from both levels of government stated they have no plans to test email messaging. A few will experiment with content layouts or subject lines, but more than 57% at both levels of government stated they will not test email messaging in any way. This may be a priority to reconsider, since email messaging is a primary method of communicating with stakeholders—knowing what types of messages and content best engage those stakeholders is vital information. If federal and local governments want to better engage their digital audience, testing their email messaging to see what resonates with their target audience is a great strategy.

With both levels of government working to increase their digital audiences, one of the best strategies they can implement is to add an email subscription form to their websites, emails, social networks, mobile platforms, and more. In a constantly connected, digital world, not having a central place of communication tied to every one of your digital presences means you’re missing out on easy ways to connect with more of your audience.

Grab your copy of the 2014 Federal Trends Report or the 2014 State Trends Report and their accompanying infographics to learn more about what is going on with government communications throughout the year.

Have you seen the movie “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix? In the movie, set in 2025, Phoenix plays a guy named Theodore, a lonely introverted man going through a divorce. Don’t worry, I won’t give anything away if you haven’t seen it yet. The part I want to highlight revolves around Theodore’s job. Theodore works for a company that hires professional writers to compose intimate, heartfelt letters for people who don’t want to (or can’t figure out how to) write personal notes to people in their lives. It’s a very interesting movie. You should check it out. Robot with envelope.

Looking past the sad commentary on society where a business like that could survive (and you probably don’t have to fast forward to 2025 to conceive of how a service like that would make it) I love the premise: hiring someone to create personal messages for you.

You see, in the marketing world there’s constant talk about the difference between doing Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing and Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing. Each way of doing marketing has its nuances and uses different strategies to get a compelling message to someone who would benefit from the product or service.

Add into the mix what our clients do, Government-to-Citizen (G2C) marketing, and the different ways of doing marketing start to become pretty complex.

With all the different strategies in B2B, B2C, and G2C, a new hybrid (evolution?) of marketing is starting to emerge. People who study these sorts of things are starting to boil down marketing strategy to its fundamental core. What they’ve begun calling this new strategy is: Human-to-Human (H2H).

Basically, H2H marketing seeks to take the confusion out of marketing. The goal is to try to utilize the same communication principles you use with your friends when chatting over dinner:

  • Don’t use buzz-words or jargon dumps. Get rid of the corporate robot-speak and engage me in a conversation.
  • Make things entertaining. Tell a story that moves me.
  • Don’t just tell me that this will make my life better, let me know why I should even care in the first place.
  • If a mistake is made, own up to it, ask for forgiveness and tell me how you are going to fix the situation.
  • Don’t assume that demographic information defines who I am.

If you think about it, this is what effective communication is all about. It’s not exactly rocket science, but those of us who communicate for a living seem to have lost our way at some point. It’s true for the private sector and it’s true for the government. We need to take a lesson from “Her” on this and start thinking about how we craft our messages as if we were composing them for someone we deeply care about.

Here are 7 tips to think about as you work to transform your communications to be more H2H friendly:

  1. First and foremost, people matter! Let’s face it. It’s the information age. We have lots of information that has to get out there. But simply dumping a bunch of information on someone is not a very good way to get them engaged. When you have important information to communicate, think about how you can make it appeal to systemic human desires like being part of something bigger than yourself, feeling connected to others, or our desire for adventure. Remember, people respond to vision. They rarely take action because of facts and figures. The Army understands this. Tourism departments get it. Think about how your organization can connect with people on a deeper level. Don’t fall into the trap of just dumping information out there and hope people will take it to heart.
  2. Think about your end goal. Speaking of people, think about what the end goal of your organization is. Is it to reduce crime? Is it to get more people to start small businesses? Is it to get more people to get tested for diabetes? Your organization, no doubt, has some fantastic goals and I bet all of them, in some way, are about making people’s lives better. If you can tie your communication back to these goals, it’s a win-win. The organization meets its mission critical goals and people take the actions you need them to take.
  3. Communicate with emotion and personality. I know how it is. Sometimes the way you communicate is out of your hands. You might be statutorily required to phrase something a certain way. You might have a legal department who needs to approve every word you write. In those situations, you might just have to resign to the way things have to be. But in all other circumstances, push back to remove boring tech speak from your communications. It’s not compelling and it doesn’t get you to that end goal we talked about earlier. And, let’s face it, life’s too short to not have a little good-natured fun every once in awhile.
  4. When thinking H2H, remember H2H=H+H: Humor and Humility. Take 5 seconds and think about the 3 friends you love being around the most. I bet boredom and arrogance are not words you associate with them. Levity brings the mood up and humility opens up space for forgiveness and acceptance. If you can establish an atmosphere of humor and humility you will go a long way toward growing your audience, moving them to action and giving you grace if an issue does arise.
  5. Images communicate what words cannot. As much as you can, include imagery in your communications. If you’re speaking, tell a relatable story. If you’re writing, include images about what you’re talking about. If it’s the web…well, if you aren’t using images on the web yet, we probably need to have a “back-to-the-basics” discussion. Did you know that the eyes can communicate information faster than any of the other senses? Check out this article about research MIT is doing about the processing power of your eyes.
  6. Design matters. At the heart of civilization is the compelling need to make organization out of chaos. Design is at the heart of who we are. It’s why everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over the latest Apple product or why people will pay money to go to an auto show. We like things that are beautiful. We like structure. We like things that are engineered to be simple. If your communications don’t look nice, people will write off the information. Spend the time (or money) to make things look good. It pays dividends in the long run.
  7. Deliver messaging that’s tailored to the specific desires of your audience. Always remember that you’re not simply the summation of your demographic information. You’re an individual and so is your audience. You need to find ways to deliver the most customized message you can to the recipient. When a friend tells you a story about her weekend, she tells you about specific details that she knows will be relevant to you. In doing that, it allows you to enter into the story. When developing your communications strategy, think about the data you will need to collect to give people exactly what they want and find systems that allow you to store and access that information so you can deliver something that’s relevant and compelling. Your audience will appreciate it and will be more likely to absorb what you’re telling them.

There you have it, my 7 tips for moving your communications to a H2H model. Tell me what I’m missing or how you’ve started to do H2H communications within your organization in the comments below.

By Ryan Kopperud, Content Editor – GovDelivery

Status quo methods of digital outreach often result in status quo audience growth results. Engaging a new and different audience requires innovative tactics, taking chances, and having some fun.

At GovDelivery, we offer a wide variety of solutions that help organizations expand their reach to all kinds of audiences. From cross promoting content through the GovDelivery Network, to using social media posting and sharing options, organizations are consistently extending their reach with GovDelivery. Catering to trends and adopting creative outreach methods often yield great returns on investment.

Many organizations have already begun enacting effective methods of creative outreach, especially in an effort to reach younger generations. Here are a few great examples of those who have found success in reaching youth audiences in our modern digital world.

Barack Obama - Between Two Ferns

The President Has a Sense of Humor

In an effort to promote Healthcare.gov, and the coming deadline to sign up for health insurance, President Obama recently made an appearance on the popular FunnyOrDie.com sketch comedy show “Between Two Ferns,” hosted by comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis.

If you’re connected to the Internet in any capacity, you probably saw the video itself, or at least mention of it. The unexpected appearance of President Obama was enough to draw attention, but the candor, comedy, and self-deprecation shown by both parties sent the sketch into full-blown viral video status. While the White House has already done an outstanding job reaching digital audiences through email, text messaging and social media, a White House Spokeswoman revealed that FunnyOrDie.com became the number one source of referrals to Healthcare.gov the week of the video’s release. To date, the video has now been viewed over 20 million times.

Most organizations don’t have access to websites as popular as FunnyOrDie.com, but sites like YouTube and Vimeo allow organizations to broadcast their own video content, which can be promoted through direct (email and text messaging) and indirect (social media) channels. The lesson remains: creatively marketing your message and going to where your audience already is, can have a huge impact on your reach. As proven by this video, a little comedy and a new spin can go a long ways.

The CDC and the Zombie Apocalypse

Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic

Zombies have always been a pop culture staple, from comic books to horror films, but with new television shows like “The Walking Dead,” the trend has made a recent resurgence.

Taking advantage of the fad, and appealing to a younger generation, the Center for Disease Control began a campaign to address public health and emergency preparedness based on a fictional zombie apocalypse. With zombie-themed posters, a website, a blog, and a graphic novel, the CDC committed to finding a fun and unique way to appeal to a certain audience, while still putting out the same valuable content they needed to.

Distributing health and preparedness tips through the vehicle of zombies allowed youth to have fun with learning, while making the information easier to digest for a younger generation. Needless to say, the campaign was a huge hit, and the CDC’s zombie content has gotten thousands of shares and comments since being released. Feel free to have fun with your content, especially when your goal is to educate your audience with tips and tricks.

Play and Learn with ChooseMyPlate.gov CDC My Plate Kids' Place

Promoting healthy diets and exercise to kids can be a difficult task. In an effort to engage youth and promote their organization’s mission, ChooseMyPlate.gov (a subdivision of the USDA), created a section of their website fully dedicated to the education and entertainment of kids.

With unique content including games, videos, songs, and printable activity sheets, ChooseMyPlate.gov created a safe space for kids to learn and spend time ingesting beneficial information, while better serving the organization’s mission.

In Conclusion

As evidenced by the above organizations, having a sense of humor, using creative marketing strategies, and catering to a younger generation, can have a huge impact on an organization’s digital outreach.

Going where the people are, not taking things too seriously, and playing off of trends, can have a great return on investment when done properly. If your organization is looking for a way to rejuvenate your content and expand your reach to a new and younger audience, consider taking a new approach, having fun, and spending some time outside the box.

See original post on GovLoop.

Guest Post by: Derek Belt, Social Media Specialist – King County, WA

Have you watched somewhat helplessly these past few months as your Facebook interactions dropped rapidly? Has the “reach” of your posts dipped as low as you’ve ever seen it, no matter how great your content is?

It’s not your fault. It’s Facebook’s fault. And they’re doing it on purpose.

Here are just a few recent headlines from across the web:

The times they are a-changing (again)

This is an important topic and one organizations across the world are having right this very moment, from government agencies to high-powered marketing firms. Bottom line, we need to change the way we think about Facebook. It’s no longer a great communications tool (if it ever was is genuinely open for debate).

For many of us, the whole reason our organizations got on Facebook in the first place was to share information with the public. Well, recent changes to Facebook’s computer algorithm have made it increasingly difficult to reach our audiences, and it’s only going to get more difficult.

What’s changed? See my presentation below:

State of Facebook 2014 from King County, WA

So what do we do now?

Facebook can still be a great A) customer service portal, B) market research tool, and C) advertising platform. But it’s not a great communications tool any longer. Facebook has moved to a pay-to-play environment, meaning they have turned off what’s called “organic” reach and are asking us to pay money to reach fans (including our own). For the majority of public-service agencies, this is unrealistic.

That brings us to email and newsletters. Email has long been one of the most effective forms of digital communications. But let’s be honest — social media has distracted us a bit. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We jumped at the opportunity to be cutting-edge, and rightfully so.

What’s cutting-edge now is to leave Facebook behind. Seriously. Ask your teenagers.

Email: Don’t call it a comeback

Here’s the one question we need to ask ourselves about Facebook: Who are we reaching? If we have 1,000 fans but can only reach 10% of them due to Facebook’s limited reach (hint, hint, see the presentation above), is that really worth the time investment we’re making to share information on Facebook? Paying a few bucks here and there to boost our posts is cheap and (kind of) works, but it adds up quickly.

On the other hand, if we invest our time and resources in building and nurturing an email list or newsletter with the same 1,000 people, we know we can reach everybody on that list whenever we hit send. Please keep in mind that we’re just talking about reach here (i.e. the number of people who actually “got” the message). On Facebook, we can reach 10% whereas on email we can reach close to 100% factoring out bounce-backs.

Of course, open rates and click-through rates are traditionally low on email, but not as low as on Facebook. At least with email we know we’re going to reach the audience. After that, it’s on us. We can work to improve subject lines, newsletter design, and content strategy. Those are things in our control.

On Facebook, we control very little. We can’t even reach our own fans. So it’s a matter of 10% reach on Facebook vs. 100% reach on email.

Those numbers are striking. We need an exit strategy for Facebook.

By the GovDelivery Security Team

As a government communicator, you know your organization is constantly in the spotlight, and a phishing scam causes one fire you hope you never have to put out.  But when you operate with a high profile, you’re much more likely to become a target for phishers and spoofers. Here are a few tips on how you can prepare.

 What is spoofing and phishing?

  • Spoofing is when an unidentified sender attempts to send an email from your domain (or a similar domain) in order to trick unsuspecting recipients into doing something they might not normally do, such as opening an attachment or downloading a file.  Spoofers typically choose a sending domain similar to the target organization. For example, if the domain is state@agency.gov, spoofers might use state@agency.2.gov or state@agency.agency.gov.
  • Phishing is an attack where a sender tries to trick the recipients into giving up sensitive information, oftentimes resulting in financial gain for the sender. Phishing uses spoofing, as the sender attempts to send from your domain in order to collect information.

These aren’t technical attacks, but are known in the industry as social engineering attacks. Instead of trying to hack into your computer to get the information they want, hackers who use social engineering bypass technology controls and instead rely on the weakness of the users to simply provide that information directly. And unlike technical attacks, they’re far more difficult to protect against.

Government organizations send thousands of digital messages a week, making the industry a breeding ground for phishers and spoofers to take their domain, voice and email design in order to replicate a malicious message for the public.

Recent examples of spoofing and phishing in the public sector

The Ministry of Justice in the UK was the most recent target of spoofing.  Spoofers sent victims an email that appeared to come from the police department asking for the collection of parking fine payments. These emails instructed the recipients to download an attachment, claiming it was a form that required more information.

uk

The emails had been spoofed to make it appear as though they had been sent from the domain justice.gov.uk. The Ministry of Justice was able to quickly quell the situation by bringing awareness to the public. They got the word out through press releases in the local media, email communications and updates on their website.

With tax season coming up, one popular form of phishing is for unidentified senders to leverage phony Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms to collect data. Attackers might craft emails that appear to come from IRS.gov and request unsuspecting victims to fill in attached forms and fax them to a given number. This year, phishers have been using phone calls and emails in the State of Indiana, posing as IRS agents in order to target unsuspecting victims to trick them into giving out personal information.

How does GovDelivery help?

At GovDelivery, successful delivery of public sector messages to massive groups of people is our business. Public sector organizations send billions of messages per year using the GovDelivery Communications Cloud, and because we only send on behalf of government organizations, we have the best deliverability rates in the industry (98% of emails sent through GovDelivery are successfully delivered to recipients). Spoofing or phishing messages typically don’t reach the inbox, since they are sent from a phony domain. It’s less likely that your audience will even see a spoofed email, since these often land in the Junk or SPAM folders. Knowing that messages sent through GovDelivery reach the end recipient helps your audience better determine that your emails are legitimate (and spoofed messages aren’t).

In many cases, GovDelivery is also able to handle the technical side of email spoofing or phishing attacks, since we might notice an attack before our clients do. Fraudsters will often send high volumes of phishing emails at once, so we are able to monitor and detect any unusual activity around GovDelivery domains (such as an influx of replies or inquiries to our GovDelivery Subscriber Help Center) and immediately alert the impacted organization.

Even though smaller attacks may go unnoticed, some ISPs or recipients may also reach out and send an email to abuse@govdelivery.com or postmaster@govdelivery.com as well, at which point we’ll evaluate and alert the impacted organization.

However, if fraudulent senders attempt to spoof your organization’s domain without using the GovDelivery name, we may not be able to catch those incidents since we won’t have visibility into how the domain is being used.

HMRC

What can your organization do?

While it may seem tempting to sweep a phishing attack under the rug, offering resources and open communication to your audience is the best way to reduce the amount of people who will fall prey to a phisher or spoofer.

  1. A phishing or spoofing attack can quickly become a PR issue. Many organizations choose to get the word out immediately during or after an attack with website, email and text updates, similar to the Ministry of Justice. By bringing awareness to the public, organizations can reduce the likelihood that others will fall for to the attack
  2. As a proactive measure, GovDelivery recommends providing resources and information on your website, giving your audience a place to validate any questionable emails they receive. It’s always a good idea to remind your audience that you will never ask for sensitive personal information through email, such as a bank account or social security number. Here is a great example from HM Revenue and Customs in the UK.
  3. For more in-depth preparation and damage control tips, check out this comprehensive article from CSO Data Protection, “Phishing: the Basics.”

Remember, no organization is impervious to phishing or spoofing, but they can prepare themselves should the unfortunate situation occur. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s article, “Phishing” Fraud: How to avoid getting fried by phony phishermen.

 

Our digital communications tour is in full swing! Over the last month we’ve visited Oakland, CA and Austin, TX, sparking conversations on the value of technology, outreach, and communications in government, as well as strategies to increase that value. We’ve hosted many innovative, successful speakers, from private sector thought leaders with successful social media start-ups to public sector communicators like yourselves working in state, city, and county government. Our speakers have presented on trends, strategies and tactics to connect with more stakeholders and inspire them to take action – online or offline – to drive mission value. tx-tour-14

But the tour isn’t over! In April, we’ll be taking our tour to three more cities, Raleigh, NC and Washington, D.C., before hosting our final stop in St. Paul, MN. If you haven’t already, make sure to register for the event in your city today, space is limited!

One of the best parts of the digital communications tour is the opportunity to listen to what other government communicators have to say about recent trends and what takeaways they find most important. Rather than synthesize those conversations into our own words, check out some of the snippets from Twitter during our last two tour stops and make sure to follow along with the hashtag: #GovD14.

Tweet-TX6 Tweet-TX5 Tweet-TX4 Tweet-TX3 Tweet-TX2 Tweet-TX Tweet-CA6 Tweet-CA5 Tweet-CA4 Tweet-CA3 Tweet-CA2

 

Tweet-CA1

Interested in attending an event in your city? Visit our registration pages for more information:

As consumers, we expect smooth and simple experiences from online retailers. In many cases, the same expectations occur in government. Federal and local governments have an opportunity to meet and exceed these expectations by using digital communications technology to its fullest potential.

The Presidential memorandum, “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People,” issued a pledge in May of 2012 to modernize digital technology in the public sector by March of 2013 as a result of rising citizen expectations along with a series of budget cuts that affected government customer service centers.

There is progress being made across individual government agencies that are making efforts to implement more effective communication technologies. MichiganDHS

The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) was recently faced with a challenge—poor economic conditions were increasing the load on its caseworkers, who provide financial, medical, heating, and food assistance through a system of about 100 offices distributed throughout the state. There was an influx of requests for assistance, and its current communications technology couldn’t handle it.

The organization was forced to innovate. Using cloud technology and modern customer management software, Michigan DHS developed an integrated voice-recognition service to increase the load its online system could manage.

Since then, the voice-recognition system has processed almost half a million phone calls without any caseworker involvement. Calls usually take an average of 5 minutes each, equating to several thousand hours being saved each month. Over 180,000 online applications have been received without the need for people to physically visit the office. These simple innovations have freed up caseworkers to focus on important tasks that require human attention, and give the Michigan DHS more resources to allocate wherever they might be needed. These improvements have actually let the Michigan DHS expand its operations.

The Michigan DHS didn’t do anything magical to enhance its communications system. Other public sector institutions can follow its success by making use of the 3 golden rules of customer service.

1) Optimize the technology that is being used. Cloud computing has become a great choice for high-quality services at a relatively low price, and according to a report from October 2013, about half of state and local governments are starting or planning to use the cloud. Out of these, 70% say they plan to use it for web applications; 60% say they’ll use it for cloud storage; and 40% say they’ll use it for email.

2) Offer good service. The public sector may never match the private sector when it comes to online user experience, but a good interface is really all that is needed. The key here is being able to resolve a citizen’s issue on the first call, something the Michigan DHS nailed with its voice-recognition system.

3) Be consistent across every channel of communication. Many organizations have different messages and protocols across different channels, something that is off-putting to a user. As the online experience improves more people are expected to use it as their preferred channel of communication.

By taking advantage of the multitude of communication technologies developed in the private sector, federal and local government organizations can vastly improve their customer service. Michigan DHS has shown that relatively simple changes can have a tremendous impact on outreach and effectiveness, providing a successful model that other agencies can follow.

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