A blog about digital government, communications, citizen satisfaction & engagement, GovDelivery, and other e-government issues
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Which messages coming from the public sector made the greatest impact in 2013? What topics saw increased interest from the public? Which government organizations reached more people than ever by networking with their peers?

Our year-in-review digital communications reports take a look at the 6 billion messages sent out by government organizations to sum up some of the best in public sector communications. In 2013, over 1,000 government organizations directly reached more than 60 million people (that’s 20 million more people than last year) through digital communications. Take a look at the sneak peek below of some of the top messages sent to these millions of people or check out the full reports hereInfographic sneak peek

State and Local Trending TopicsIn state and local government messages, the outdoors, legislature, local employers, and energy effi­ciency were hot topics among people signing up to receive information from organizations.

Federal Citizen/Customer EngagementAmong federal agency communications, the Securities & Exchange Commission, FoodSafety.gov, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Justice, and the Veterans Health Administration saw some of the highest message engagement with their constituents.

UK & Europe Messages that the Public SharedIn UK and Europe communications, vehicle taxes and recalls, Mars, energy efficiency, and weather related messages were shared the most by the public with their friends.

Want to see more trends from public sector communicators and their audiences in 2013? Check out our infographics page for the full reports: http://bit.ly/GD-infographics.

By Steve Ressler, Founder of GovLoop

It was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration is working on a technology reform agenda. In the wake of the difficult HealthCare.gov roll-out, there’s been a lot of discussion on how to improve tech procurement and delivery.

Photo credit: Barack Obama via photopin cc

Photo credit: Barack Obama via photopin cc

As such, I thought I’d write my 6 ideas on tech reform.

1) Build Internal Capacity: According to the WSJ, the Obama administration is considering the creation of an internal tech division, similar to the U.K.’s Government Digital Service. I think this would be a great start. I’d do this by expanding programs like the Presidential Innovation Fellows program and the CFPB design and development fellowship. Top talent applies for these 2-year fellowship programs as they are simple and concrete, and perfect for a brief tour of duty in the public sector. The White House can leverage direct hiring authorities that already exist for the Pathways programs and IT security hires, then expand, as needed.  Once created, don’t forget about marketing these programs. Agencies should attend college career fairs and relevant tech conferences, and use social media and other online promotion tools.

2) Modernize Existing Programs: Honestly, there are several programs that already exist to help technology reform, but they are just underutilized. For example, SBA has numerous programs to help small businesses start working in government and each agency has a small business unit and reports on their percentage each year. Unfortunately, these programs aren’t well marketed to cutting edge tech firms and often are still pretty clunky. Simplifying, modernizing, and marketing these programs would go a long way on very little work.

3) Venture Based Procurement: In the venture capital world, there are generally multiple stages of investment (friends and family, Series A, Series B, Series C). At the early stages, there are lots of bets on companies and technology, but they are small. Then in Series B – D, there is doubling down on what works. We should break out large IT procurements in a similar way. Instead of one big $10M procurement, spend $500k up front (5 winners at $100K each), then $1.5M for next steps (2 winners at $750K each), and then $8M for the winner.

 

4) Support the Current Federal IT Community: One of the first things we should do is leverage the existing government IT staff we have so we can learn from each other. The CIO Council currently serves that role, but it’s primarily for CIOs and Deputy CIOs, helping 50-100 key leaders learn and connect. However, it isn’t the best forum for tens of thousands of IT leaders. Digital Government University and the #socialgov community are shining lights of how this can be done, but that is just for one aspect of IT (mostly consumer-facing web).

Don’t recreate past mistakes and think this is a tech issue, then spend millions creating new collaborative systems (for instance, the Fedspace experiment that never got traction). Like the venture approach, give out $100 to $150K grants to 5-8 associations and organizations (like ACT-IAC, GovLoop, others) with broad objectives on what you want accomplished and scale investment on what works.

5) Advance the Death of Paperwork: When you work on a government project, I’d guess 60-70% of the cost goes to a variety of paperwork documents (OMB 53, OMB 300, a project plan, system lifecycle documents, etc.) and reporting up the chain. Let’s eliminate unnecessary steps, when possible, and automate the important documentation so we aren’t re-entering the same information in ten different places and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paperwork drills. More time and money should be spent on creating a great product that serves citizen rather than on approvals and paperwork.

6) Upgrade the Training of IT PMs: Most of the training for IT project managers is traditional PMI and PMBOK project management. The same is true of acquisition training; it’s often standard courses that have been around for years. If you really want change in IT and acquisition, you have to train the government leaders in the new concepts and align incentives. Make it about product management versus project management. How about a new IT bootcamp requirement similar to the Code for America bootcamp where participants learn about user interfaces, design thinking, agile development, and more?  Don’t try to build all this training in-house. Create a template of what you want taught, carve out a training budget and establish standard compensation you provide to trainers (for example $200 for every student that goes through your bootcamp).

I’m excited to see the attention being focused on improving IT talent and acquisition in the federal sector. It will be interesting to see what changes end of being implemented.

What’s your idea for federal tech reform? Comment below!

In 2014, new office holders and their communications teams will find new opportunities and challenges when they leave the campaign trail or the nomination hearings and take office.

As you begin your new positions, you can expect to be flooded with action items, but what about your communications? You’ve spent months reaching out and connecting with stakeholders. If done right, you can easily get a quick win by capitalizing on this momentum and carrying these outreach tactics over to your administration. To do this effectively, you need a powerful tool and proven strategies for success.  If you’re an elected official at a public sector entity that’s already using GovDelivery, you can rest easy knowing that you have that powerful tool in place.

Whether you, personally, are one of the new names, or you’re part of a team transitioning into a new administration, we’ve put together some guidance to help you capitalize on this important time and jump-start your communication efforts for the coming term.

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Step 1: Take Steps to Start Building Your Audience

You may already have a base of people that you can reach through digital channels.  Typically, elected officials choose to leave these databases as part of a campaign or external organization.  Applicable laws should be reviewed before uploading data from a campaign into government-owned systems, like GovDelivery.

However, many new officeholders choose to take the following steps to build their “post campaign” outreach:

  1. Setup a sign-up option that is prominently featured on your website.  There should be a direct sign-up box embedded in a visible location on all pages and you should consider using an “overlay” that will ask all new site visitors to sign-up. Here is an example from our test environment.
  2. At events and in emails sent to your campaign lists, you may be able to direct people to sign-up at the website you’ve put up for the office once it is launched.
  3. Make sure you are offering updates on specific topics.  “Updates from the Mayor/Governor” are not nearly as popular as “Transportation Strategy Updates” can be.

Step 2: Provide Great Content

contentexamplesThe most common emails we see from elected officials are general newsletters, but you have so much more going on: events, legislation, initiatives, and more.  Use video, blogs, pictures, and topic-oriented communication to draw in more sign-ups to your information and to engage users with what you send out.

Each touch point strengthens citizen engagement.

Mayors can send pictures from press meetings or visits to local businesses. City Council members could send video from local parks, promote summer recreation leagues, or document a new bridge being built, and state senators can send updates on new or pending legislation. Any activity or initiative that illustrates helping your community can be packaged and shared digitally.

Elected officials can also keep the media informed and drive awareness around press events. Storing media contacts and using private lists is a great way to quickly disseminate timely and accurate information to radio, television, newspapers and new media such as bloggers.

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For public sector organizations using GovDelivery, any content, such as pictures or videos posted to your website, YouTube, and other digital properties can automatically be distributed to your subscribers without you lifting a finger. Learn more about our Automation functionality here.

Step 3. Keep Track of Your Progress

How do you keep improving if you can’t measure the impact of what you’re doing? Individual and aggregate reports within GovDelivery provide insight into which pieces of content are the most engaging among your constituents. Metrics allow you to see what’s working, and what isn’t. Monitor these on a weekly or monthly basis to measure your progress over time and make necessary changes for better results.

GovDelivery provides an Account Performance Report, giving you a 360-degree view of the performance of your communications program. The best part? You can email a copy to anyone in your organization that contributes to, or cares about, your communications. Learn more about our Analytics functionality here.

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Step 4: Continue to grow your audience.

As your time in office continues, it’s critical to continue building your audience, so audit and make use of what you already have. Transportation groups typically have lists of subscribers for road closures and weather alerts. Parks and Recreation departments have contact information for those who have registered for events or community sports leagues. These untapped resources are your “Pot of Gold”, and they can also be sent an invite to sign up for information from you and your organization.

GovDelivery is already setup so that anyone new signing up to updates from any topic within your organization can automatically be shown the updates from your office (For example: just like Amazon cross promotes products, someone can sign up for the “Mayor’s Newsletter” and the “Mayor’s Transit Initiatives” right after they sign up for “Snow Emergency Alerts” from Public Works).  In addition to cross promoting signing up to your office’s content to people visiting your organization’s website, GovDelivery makes it possible to collaborate with other government organizations to reach even more people through the GovDelivery Network.

Your potential outreach may be much larger in this new position, and we hope some of these tips help you capitalize on the opportunity to reach more people and communicate in a world-class manner in your new role as office holder or staff member. By using GovDelivery to get the word out and keep your stakeholders informed, you can cross “successful digital communications” off your list… before you even take office.

Check out our Email Best Practices Guide and our Digital Outreach Guide to gain more best practices.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but be a fan of reality competition shows. Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Big Brother…you name it, I’ll probablyYoung girl in living room with flat screen television admit to watching it. The “secret sauce” in these shows that makes them so addicting for me is the component of audience participation. On Dancing with the Stars, I can send a SMS/text message to keep my favorite celebrity dancing another week. On The Voice, I can send a tweet within only a few minute window to “instant save” a contestant from the chopping block. On Big Brother, I can check a box on a web form to say what house guests will eat for a week if they lose a competition. The idea that I can directly participate in the show, often in real time, makes it enjoyable and exciting for me.

The entertainment industry isn’t the only place that fosters more and more audience participation. Retailers like Modcloth have a “Be the Buyer” program that lets consumers vote on which clothes should be sold on their website, Doritos features fan filmed commercials as their Super Bowl ads, and brands across industries have social media teams to engage with stakeholders’ complaints, questions, comments, and more around the clock.

So it’s no surprise that when citizens interact with government organizations, they have different expectations than 20 or even 10 years ago.  Technology and participatory marketing are a part of everyday life—that trend has changed expectations for the public sector. If citizens can send a text message to keep their favorite celebrity dancing on TV another week, why can’t they send an SMS or email to alert their cities of a pothole? If they can check an airline app for their flight status, why can’t they do the same for their hunting license status? As technology continues to permeate every area of citizens’ lives, both personal and professional, expectations for citizen to government interactions are shifting.

So how do you not only accommodate these expectations, but do so in a way that fosters a better citizen experience with your government organization?

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Featured Speaker: Ruthbea Clarke

We’re hosting a webinar on January 28 at 12 p.m. CST featuring Ruthbea Clarke, Research Director of the global Smart Cities Strategies program at IDC Government Insights, to address this idea of building a successful citizen engagement strategy using digital communications technology. Ruthbea will provide quick tips that public sector organizations can use to achieve greater citizen engagement and subsequently, satisfaction.

You can register for the Citizen Engagement in the Digital Era webinar here. In the meantime, if you have any tips to share about how your organization (or maybe just your favorite competition show if you’ll admit to it too!) is fostering audience engagement, write in the comments below.

Successful public sector digital communications is born from a commitment to reach a large and relevant audience. The largest audiences are built on direct contact channels such as email and text messaging as well as indirect channels such social media. Here are a few tips on how you can expand your reach and drive more engagement in 2014 wherever the general public can consume your content – especially on mobile devices.

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Add Subscription Options to Mobile Apps. Promoting your email/SMS subscription options through your app is an effective way of growing your audience. Many government organizations allow app users to enter in their email address or phone to receive proactive communications.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), created a mobile app that provides users with tax tips and allowed them to sign up to be emailed with this information ongoing. By promoting their email list directly within their app, they received 14,000 additional subscribers in just a 3-month period.

The good news? There are many ways to connect mobile applications to GovDelivery through application programming interfaces (APIs), making it simple to automatically upload email and wireless addresses from online sources directly into GovDelivery for ongoing outreach.

Make Use of Text to Subscribe Functionality.  In situations where an individual may not be near a computer or may have limited access to the Internet, traditional methods of signing up for email updates through an online process might be inconvenient. Setting up a text-to-subscribe program gives your audience the ability to send a simple text message with their email address and a keyword in it to receive email updates on a specific topic.

The City of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board wants to keep local golfers informed of course news, events, adult golf leagues and schools, junior golf, and more. To capture golfers on the go, they offer a text to subscribe program to give course-specific deals throughout the golf season. Golfers can subscribe to receive emails from their favorite course, or sign up for news from all seven courses. GovDelivery makes launching a program like this easy by offering mobile functionality to capture subscribers using inbound text messages. Learn more here.

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Bonus: While capturing email addresses through a mobile opt-in helps grow your audience, you should also be building a list of wireless subscribers by offering 2-way SMS text messaging. In King County, Washington, people can text “KING” plus their zip code to 468311 to get information about healthcare enrollment. By using a short code, a subscriber’s phone number is captured when they text in their information.

Text messaging programs like this aren’t just about convenience either – it’s about equity. Young, low-income people use text messaging more than any other demographic. Where the Internet and traditional media fall short, text messaging fills in the blanks. GovDelivery can reserve custom short codes, like the King County example below, for a branded mobile experience.

king county

A great communications program is born from a large audience.  In 2014, continue to build and expand your digital communications strategy with more tactics from GovDelivery. Download the entire Digital Outreach Best Practices Guide for free here.

By Michael Bayliss-Brown, Public Sector Sales Consultant

How the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can streamline digital communications to engage the public, increase efficiency, improve effectiveness and achieve cost savings.

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Guardian recently hosted a live chat regarding digital transformation at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to uncover the innovation, transparency and citizen engagement at work within the walls of Whitehall. Jon Thompson, permanent under secretary for the MoD, said before the chat: “Defence has long enjoyed digital pre-eminence in the battle space, but we have lagged behind in the way we exploit digital to make our business more efficient and effective”.

This is not the first time you’ll hear government referred to as “a business”. Government and industry leaders recognise the need for a solid business case and process underpinning their digital communications strategies at both the central and local government levels.

According to Liz Azyan, Digital Strategist and Social Media Marketing Consultant, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is setting an excellent example of putting users first with its business tax dashboard:

 Giving small business customers the ability to perform several transactions with the department on a single platform and providing them with the tools and library of information that they need to complete those transactions, puts the customer first. It’s supporting users in a way that says, ‘We care and we want to help you in the best way we can’. And sometimes for users, that’s the best type of support you can ask for – the visibility of thought and care to their needs and also, the ability to give feedback to improve”.

Roger Hutton, director defence strategy and digital leader at the Ministry of Defence stated:

We’re now (as it says in Digital in Defence) concentrating on better understanding the user requirement, developing digital awareness among the department’s senior leadership and skills across its workforce, re-examining our principal interfaces with citizens (particularly for veterans and potential recruits) and improving ICT capabilities for business delivery.”

Currently MoD is leveraging a variety of innovative communication channels to engage with audiences inside and outside the department. Social media is enabling the digital team to quickly gauge public sentiment on subjects and provide important material via new mediums, like photography and video.

There is no doubt that social media is a powerful communications channel, and digital teams should leverage that channel to reach the public. However, according to a Pew Research survey in the U.S., email is the most popular online activity for adults, so it should be the channel of choice for government organisations, complemented by social networking sites.

MoD would benefit from observing the digital technology already in use in other departments as a blueprint for its own digital programme. Many government organisations are solving users’ challenges by simply enabling citizens and stakeholders to receive information proactively and allowing them to subscribe to news that is relevant to their daily lives.

According to Liz Azyan, sharing with and learning from digital leaders at other departments is necessary for government to thrive in a digital environment. During the discussion, panellists cited HMRC and Norfolk County Council as examples of digital transformation at the central and local levels. While local authorities tend to focus on increasing external customer engagement and reducing the cost of that engagement, both central government and local authorities are leveraging technology to engage the public, enhance customer satisfaction, and achieve cost savings using online channels.

According to OFCOM, UK’s independent regulator and competition authority for communication industries, 94 percent of adults own or use a mobile phone, while 55 percent of adults with home internet use social networking.  It’s tempting to assume that social networking sites will ensure engagement with citizens. However, a more effective tactic for reaching and engaging internal employees and the public would be a hybrid approach, utilising direct email and social media to proactively connect with audiences.

A Pew Research survey in the US found that 92 percent of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, including 59 percent who do so on a typical day. Among online adults, 92 percent use email, with 61 percent using email on an average day. Since the Pew Internet Project began measuring adults’ online activities in the last decade, these two behaviours have consistently ranked as the most popular. Even as early as 2002, more than nine in ten online adults were emailing.

Over 60 UK government organisations at the central and local levels are leveraging GovDelivery’s digital platform; successfully cross-promoting services and news across various departments and geographies. Organisations are able to provide a resident in Southampton, Norwich or Devon the option of subscribing to Met Office, HMRC, Department of Health, or GOV.UK alerts. These government organisations are streamlining communications to integrate with websites, social media and SMS channels and allowing the public to access messages and updates at their convenience. Nearly three million UK residents currently subscribe to government news via GovDelivery alerts. If MOD were able to tap into this existing network, it would help to expand its reach, complement existing communications efforts, and increase engagement.

If MoD can focus on delivering digital services that put users’ needs at the heart of its mission—making it easier, quicker and more efficient for the public to engage and connect—then it would be doing the public and other government departments a huge service.

It’s the beginning of 2014 and, no surprise here, everyone has a different opinion on what should make the “best of” and “worst of” 2013 lists. Whether it’s the best tech innovations in government or the worst social media gaffes, everyone has something different to add. It’s not easy to sum up an entire year’s worth into a neatly pre-packaged list, and there isn’t often a clear-cut winner or loser. But there are usually some common themes that run through these lists. Our top seven most read Reach the Public blog posts from 2013 are no different.

A few trending digital communication themes touch our seven most read blog posts. Government communicators face increasing pressure to manage communications across devices and platforms—from their websites to social media to emails to mobile friendly designs—and the most read blog posts stay true to these trends. The following seven posts sum up tips to update your website, implement responsive design for mobile users, send more engaging emails, and what technology trends are in and what ones are on their way out.

So take a minute to relive what you and your peers in government read the most from GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog last year for some key takeaways to bring into your 2014 government communications strategy.

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7) Top 10 (Easy) Ways to Make Your Emails Work for Mobile

Ranging from scaling back email column size to text size, this blog post summarizes 10 quick and easy ways to optimize emails for mobile devices. With more and more people accessing their emails on multiple devices, including mobile, this post is definitely worth another look to boost your mobile email strategy.

6) Need To Brighten Up Dull Content? Take A Cue From 1-800-GOT-JUNK

Optimizing emails and websites to achieve higher engagement with citizens is important—but so is the actual content in those emails or on those webpages. If you want a refresher on updating your communications so that your stakeholders not only receive your messages, but read and take action because of them, check out this post on transforming your average business content into something new and exciting.

5) Great Government Websites – Benchmarking The Best

A good website isn’t just a bonus for government organizations anymore, it’s a necessity. If you know your website could use a little sprucing up, you should start by reading, or re-reading, this post. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) regularly benchmarks websites according to Americans’ overall level of satisfaction in a variety of industries. This blog post takes a look at a few local, federal and international public sector samples of high quality websites.

4) Is There A Best Time To Send An Email?

It’s no wonder that email is still the cornerstone of most digital marketing practices—more than 144 billion emails are sent around the world every day. So optimizing your emails to be sent at a time when they are more likely to be opened, read and incite action has been a top of mind topic for many of our blog readers. Check out this blog post again to learn more about the research that has gone into determining best response rates.

3) Do RSS Feeds Still Matter?

When Google announced it was closing down Google Reader, many bloggers were quick to declare the demise of the RSS feed. Moving into 2014 nearly a year after the Google Reader shutdown, RSS feeds are still a thriving component of many communication strategies in the public sector. This post takes a look at how some government organizations use RSS feeds to provide an automated, simple way to reach more people with their messages.

2) How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly With Responsive Design

One of the recurring themes in our most read blog posts, and a possible nomination for the buzz word of the year, is the phrase “mobile friendly.” Making your emails and website available to be viewed and interacted with in as many ways as possible is a no-brainer. Take a look at this post for some specific tips on making your website more accessible to your stakeholders.

1) Need A New Look? 2013/2014 Website Trends That Matter

Our top read post on Reach the Public stayed true to the themes our readers have been interested in all year: optimizing communications across devices and emerging digital communication trends. The website trends covered in this post even do a little predicting—reviewing what digital best practices are likely to become commonplace in the new year. Take a little time to double-check that you are implementing, or at least aware, of these digital trends so that you’re providing a consistent experience that citizens have come to expect when interacting with any website.

So there’s our top seven list of most-viewed blog entries in 2013. What do you think? Did any of these posts stand out as particularly useful in your organization? Or do you have another post to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Good government communicators are chameleons. As communicators, you adapt quickly and effectively to changing situations every day, whether it’s internal (like last minute change to an email campaign) or external (like Chameleonthe recent government shutdown). You adapt as needed to engage the public amidst changing legislation, budgets and projects. But how well does your organization adapt to developing trends in digital marketing? The journey to digitize government organizations is not always a quick & easy fix, nor is it the same for every organization. It’s important to remember that going digital isn’t a static process. There is no beginning and end, only a beginning and continuous improvements. We at GovDelivery strive to help make that ongoing process as smooth and painless as possible for you. By reviewing some of the latest private sector digital marketing trends, we weed out what’s likely to stick versus what you can ignore, so you can more efficiently push your organization’s communications with smarter, forward-looking decisions.

So what should you look into incorporating in your evolving digital communications strategy? We took a look at one of the trends highlighted in Epsilon’s Email Trends & Benchmark Report: the rise of the “triggered message.”

Incorporating the  “triggered message” in your communications strategy

What’s a triggered message? Sometimes called a transactional message, it’s an automated message sent out to a recipient. You probably get them all the time from private sector organizations (online receipts, registration confirmations, birthday coupons, etc). But transactional messages are very powerful in the public sector as well. Take, for example, property tax statements. Since tax statements contain very specific information, sending a mass communication without personalized information would not be beneficial to the end recipient, but printing and mailing that individualized information is expensive and time-consuming.

That’s where the transactional message comes in. With advances in technology, you can easily personalize communications that are either triggered by an action (i.e. you request a change in your license and you receive a confirmation of your request) or by a deadline (i.e. your property taxes are due and you can pay them online through a secure portal.) Robust communications platforms can pull pertinent information from your internal database or system and send out a personalized message to the recipient with their information.

Ultimately, triggered or transactional messages simplify communications that used to take days and lots of stamps. Plus, by moving these kinds of communications online, your organization can track whether the citizen or your stakeholder received and opened the email to ensure deliverability.

It’s not hard to see why these targeted messages would increase click-through rates for the recipient—it’s personalized, relevant and engaging information. If you’re interested in learning more about the robust opportunities for government organizations using transactional messaging, download this white paper.

Overall, by adapting to the trends you see in the wider email marketing world, as well as those trends you measure in your own organization, you enable your organization to develop a communications strategy that better reaches citizens. As citizen needs and expectations evolve in an ever-changing public sector landscape, government organizations should be willing to shift strategies to better reach citizens.

Does your organization use triggered messages to make your digital communications more efficient? Let us know in the comments below.

As the year winds down there’s a collective holiday season frenzy nearly everywhere you look: a Christmas tree here, a holiday sale there, and gingerbread lattes everywhere. In the public sector, the holiday season brings a loftier goal than simply selling more trees and lattes—communicating with citizens to keep them safe and informed. Along with peppermint flavored everything and Santa hats galore, the holiday season brings often dangerous situations like winter weather storms or cooking fires. Even office closures for holiday hours need to be communicated to lessen inconveniences. Many organizations also lead holiday specific activities in their communities. Whether vital information or a little more lighthearted, government organizations have a busy communications calendar this time of year.

Many organizations are not only communicating this important information with citizens, but communicating it really, really well. By taking some principles from the private sector into their digital communications, organizations are not only spreading the word on important or fun public information, but also creating messages that are timely, interesting and festive!

Some of the guidelines we’ve seen our government clients follow in their holiday communications include:

  • Creating engaging content that is easily shareable
  • Using interesting, seasonal, highly visual graphics
  • Capitalizing on the “theme” of the season to make the message relevant

We’ve compiled a few of the many great holiday emails going out from government organizations this season. Take a look and feel free to share your favorite seasonal government communications in the comments below. And of course, Happy Holidays!

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Congratulations to Carl Haggerty for winning the Leadership Excellence award from the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network! Haggerty is the Digital Communications Manager at GovDelivery client, Devon County Council. He champions and develops the digital agenda within the council and oversees the council’s corporate web presence and intranet. We were lucky to have him as one of the featured speakers at last week’s annual UK Digital Communications Event, Reaching More People.

The Guardian featured an article on Carl last month describing his merits that won him the Leadership Excellence award:

“The award goes to Haggerty for his energy and openness in building on his belief that local government should be both open and digital, and for his work in a part of the country – rural south-west England – not always renowned for its innovation. Haggerty… is responsible for developing ways to engage and involve local people and encourage greater democratic and community participation”.

Carl’s energy for building an open and digital local government was evident in his presentation at “Reaching More People” where he spoke about the current state of local government. While organisations are facing the challenges of moving to digital services, Carl also said there’s a huge opportunity right now in public sector communications. “We still have a huge role to play in terms of providing public information”, Carl said. Ensuring that communications are designed with a “user-driven” mentality is one of the top priorities in the changing digital landscape.

In his presentation, he noted, “There’s a shift for us to think about how we really focus on user needs not just assuming that someone turns up on a council’s home page and then starts there and navigates through some kind of glorious organisational structure. But actually it’s about putting the user first and the organisation is kind of irrelevant in that point. If we have a role to play to provide public information we should do it. If we have a role to provide a service we should do it. And if we have a clear role to provide information and advice that help people find services in their local community we should do it”.

Carl reviewed three main principles that are “reusable” across organisations for communicating with audiences. Communications should be:

  • User-driven and evidence based
  • Targeted and personalised
  • Digital by Design

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The idea of moving to a self-service, self-help communications strategy is one that Devon County Council has been successfully putting into practice. If you’d like to hear more from Carl and his tips on developing an “open by default, digital by design” government communications strategy watch his presentation here.

Congratulations to Carl on the award and an engaging presentation last week! You can follow Carl or the Devon County Council on Twitter or visit the council’s website to learn more about what they are doing to improve their digital agenda.

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