There is one thing that politicians and governmental organisations can agree on: the difficulty to develop and/or preserve a positive image. Hard won good reputations can easily be damaged due to generally vulnerable images and unstable levels of trust.
Most of the debates in PR circles are legitimately focused on managing public images by creating value through content marketing. Yet I find the conversations do not tap enough into the choice of communication channels that would carry the content – especially with the surge of digital tools.
Governments have been always risk averse and as a result became slow adopters of digital tools compared to private sector organisations and that’s what makes the choice of communication channels a conversation worth having.
There are several good examples of governmental organisations that are embracing digital successfully such as the British Tourist Authority and the London Borough of Newham to mention a few but shifting to digital channels is still a complex foreign territory to the majority of public sector organisations in the UK and abroad.
So how can shifting to digital help governmental organisations manage their reputations.
Digital can reinforce brand messaging and standardise service delivery:
Whether its tax returns, driving licences, planning permissions or travelling visas – online platforms can improve the provision of governmental services and standardise their delivery across the board. They can also increase their level of accessibility from anywhere, at any time and even facilitate access to people with special needs in a way that face to face or telephone interactions are less able to do.
Digital platforms such as websites, emails and social media can also enable governments to effectively convey and preserve a certain brand image and help deliver constant messaging.
Digital offers deeper audience insight:
Whilst tried and traditional research methodologies are a great resource to help drive audiences’ attitudes and behaviours; they can take too long, cost more and potentially present flawed conclusions because they rely on recording memories, which decay rapidly.
Digital on the other hand is changing the way we gather, analyse and deduce patterns in real time and at a fraction of the cost.
Digital channels enable us to better understand our audiences and act on gathered insights in real time. The available tools give us the ability to quickly and easily process big data to deliver highly targeted content – both ads and editorial – to users whether they are on a computer, tablet or mobile and at a time when they are listening which improve the user-experience.
Digital can save money:
Channel shifting can deliver savings and audience engagement. According to Goss Interactive the funding of local government, central government, NHS, housing associations and the police have been reduced by 27% in 2012-2014 and a further 10% is tabled for 2015-2016.
Although, this can make a shift towards digital channels seem more like a fait accompli – yet governmental organisations can use this as an opportunity to reinforce a brand message of excellence and efficiency in using the tax payer’s money through the provision of re-engineered services in a quicker and cheaper way.
Managing reputations for governmental organisations relies on channel choice as much as it does on messaging; especially with the increasing variety of how we consume media such as through on-demand TV and radio and digital tools etc. Governmental organisations have a great opportunity to benefit from digitalising their services and communications to convey the brand image they wish to deliver.