Government entities have a problem.
The problem is that they’re often known for being inefficient and ineffective.
For example, on the federal level, only 34%-42% of Americans think the government does a good job managing immigration, helping people get out of poverty, and handling threats to public health.
And while local governments surely have an easier time managing tasks, since they exist on a smaller scale… there is always a necessary check-and-balance system inherent in government that keeps things at sub-optimal efficiency.
This lack of efficiency has the potential to trickle down to communication efforts, even among institutions such as libraries, police departments, and public parks.
So how can you keep the lack of efficiency from impacting your own communication efforts, as you go about your work in whatever government organization you’re a part of?
How can you keep the workplace communication flowing—as well as communication with the public?
We’ll go through 10 practical government communication strategies that can help.
One way to help streamline communication in your government entity is to have some pre-filled templates in place ahead of time.
This is especially helpful if you have time-sensitive or recurring information, such as weather closures and meeting reminders.
Instead of typing out your message in the moment of need, you can anticipate what you want to say ahead of time and then just input the template when you’re ready to send.
Templates can also save time if you have the same message that you often send out over and over (perhaps with some variations here and there). For example, if you have a regular team meeting and you want to send a reminder message about it, you could create a template like the following:
Reminder! Our team meeting is today at [time] in the [room name]. We’ll discuss [agenda items].
Please be sure to make it to tomorrow’s meeting at [time] in [room name] for a brief sync on [meeting topic].
See you at [time] for our weekly team meeting!
Then you could simply fill in the details with updated information each week.
Businesses are often highly motivated to be efficient.
In some ways, you can treat your own entity like a business.
Obviously, if you’re in government, your entity doesn’t exist to make a profit. But you can still consult business training and even use business tools to apply better ways to organize, better ways to streamline, and better ways to communicate.
Here are some common business practices that can help with your communication efficiency:
Go ahead and research common business efficiency practices for communication and start applying them to your situation.
You likely don’t need to have as many meetings as you do.
Zippia reports, “Organizations spend roughly 15% of their time on meetings, with surveys showing that 71% of those meetings are considered unproductive.” And, “Workers spend an average of 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings.”
That’s a lot of meetings and wasted time!
In-person meetings are definitely important in some situations, particularly if the topic of interest is more complicated and requires a lot of back and forth.
But meetings are often not the most efficient use of time. There are a few reasons why this may be the case:
So before scheduling a meeting, consider, “Is this meeting necessary? Can the information be communicated more quickly via an email or some other channel? Do all of the people in this meeting actually need to be here?”
You could boost efficiency significantly simply by communicating outside of meetings rather than by relying too much on them.
When communicating with your team or with patrons/citizens, make sure you’re as clear as you can be.
Don’t make assumptions that people “know what you mean.” Assumptions will lead to miscommunication!
(And miscommunication will lead to wasted time, or mistakes, or both.)
In other words, don’t make people guess at what you mean. Instead, mean what you say, and say what you mean.
This is especially important with written communication, which can be easily misinterpreted. So while written communication is often more efficient than holding too many meetings (see point #3 above), don’t let written communication backfire by being unclear.
Simply memorizing and applying those 5 principles could go a long way to helping you have the most efficient government communication possible.
So repeat that list to yourself over and over again, to make sure it drives home to your brain and comes out naturally into your communication efforts.
Here’s that list again for good measure:
Understanding the “target audience”—the primary people you’re trying to reach—is key in any government communication strategy.
You must know who you are targeting, understand their needs and interests, and communicate in a way that resonates with them.
Doing this will help you create a tailored message that focuses on that target audience’s interests and language.
For example, instead of blasting out a mass message to all of your municipality’s citizens, or to all of your library’s patrons, you could segment the list into groups and send more relevant messages that specifically pertain to the people you’re reaching.
When you can tailor your message to a more relevant audience, you can stop wasting time and money communicating the wrong message to the wrong people.
People often engage better with visuals, whether that’s through graphs, illustrations, images, or videos.
In addition, data is powerful and easily accessible and can be used to tell stories through visual elements.
By combining facts, figures and visuals together along with storytelling techniques, government communication teams like yours can drive an engaging message to your workplace or patrons.
More engagement means that your communication is having more of an effect—which means you’re being more efficient.
Promote engagement and give people the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions.
Doing this will enable you to gain valuable insights into issues important to the workplace or to citizens, which can be used to craft more personalized messages.
More personalized messages means that more people will engage and your communication will be more effective (see tip number 6 above).
Your government communication team can engage in two-way conversations to discover more about what people want and what they need.
A surprising efficiency tip is to allow employees to work from home when feasible.
Zippia reports that workers are actually “13% more productive when working from home."
There could be many reasons for this, but one theory may be that working from home helps eliminate unnecessary distractions and communication.
The communication that takes place when employees work from home seems to be more to-the-point and productive.
Working from home could help employees focus more on the task at hand and less on getting distracted by employees around them (although this lack of interaction with fellow employees has pluses and minuses to it in and of itself).
So if you struggle with efficiency in your team’s communication, or in your workplace in general, try giving employees more leeway to do their work from home and see if it helps.
It may sound simple, but SMS is a severely underutilized tool when it comes to communicating with your government workplace, or with the patrons who utilize your entity’s service, or with citizens across your municipality.
Texting is one of the most effective ways to communicate, because everybody faithfully reads all their texts. (An astounding 98% of text messages are read.)
But how can you send texts to all those people? How can you organize the conversations? How can you manage responses?
You’ll do all that through an SMS platform (like Mobile Text Alerts).
Mobile Text Alerts will give you a full online service and mobile app you can use to manage your texting contacts and send mass messages.
Your SMS platform will give you multiple options to load in your contacts, including a free web sign-up form that will allow people to register to your text list automatically, so that you have an easy way to add people to your contact list. You’ll be able to organize your contacts into groups to help with targeted messaging.
It will also allow you to monitor any responses people send back to your texts, allowing you a convenient way to engage with people. And you’re able to add as many users to manage the account as you’d like, so you can give messaging access to any managers in your organization.
These strategies can apply across the board to virtually all government entities, but some particular examples are listed below (we’ll focus primarily on local governments rather than state or federal, although state and federal agencies can benefit as well).
Cities, towns, townships, and villages need easy ways to connect with government employees as well as community citizens.
They can apply these concepts to help update people regarding events such as:
The list goes on!
Public transportation services need ways to communicate updates and changes to people who use their services.
People who rely on public transportation services need to know about any changes to the schedule or any closures that may impact their plans.
Transportation workers can apply the above communication concepts to make sure people are in the know.
Libraries have a lot of reasons to communicate with staff and patrons.
There are meetings, events, programs, due date notices, overdue notices, and so much more that goes on in a library.
Applying effective communication strategies will help make all of that communication more efficient so that patrons can get the most out of what the library offers.
Notice from Lincoln City Libraries: You have 3 items overdue. Click here to renew: [link]
In addition to workplace communication among staff, larger-scale parks also need ways to communicate with frequent visitors and campers.
They can apply communication strategies to let people know about open campsites, emergencies, park closures, or any other park notice.
Emergency services such as police departments can benefit from efficient communication strategies to help inform staff about meetings, overtime opportunities, application deadlines, safety notices, or any other pertinent info.
Police departments also can keep in touch with the community members they serve, to help them stay in the know about safety issues.
Government-run healthcare agencies need ways to notify employees about shift needs, IT updates, events, and other updates.
They also can connect with program participants to keep them updated about event information and meetings.
Those are just a few examples of government entities that could take advantage of the above communication strategies. How could you apply these strategies for your situation?
Sending texts is one of the simplest government communication strategies to help you be as efficient as possible.
You can get access to the SMS platform Mobile Text Alerts for free, for 14 days.
Get your free account here (no obligation or credit card required).
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