Communication Strategies for Elected Officials

The business of government, be it local or national, has shifted dramatically in recent years. From more access to information to bigger personalities running for office, elected officials’ role carries more clout. In this case, it’s no surprise that government operations’ transformation, partnered with an unprecedented rise in citizen expectations, has created high demands on government communications. And while most elected officials have social media accounts and use social media—especially Twitter—to stay in touch with constituents or post their thoughts on certain laws, there still needs to be an emphasis on a formal and dependable communications strategy.

Here’s a look at some best practices for elected officials when it comes to official government communications.

Flexible Communications Teams

The organizational structures of communications teams have transformed in recent years, especially in terms of the shift in the media landscape. In an environment of digital communications and instant connectivity, traditional siloed structures are gone. The trading floor model is now emerging in which employees are dispersed based on their ability and area of interest.

The approach to organizational design is highly responsive and agile, which is necessary as the communications discipline evolves in response to the receptive audience’s changing expectations.

Audience-Centric Communications

This communication practice aims to ensure that the communications experience speaks to the audience member’s needs instead of the organization. Applied in a government context, this translates to citizen-centric communications, which is something in which citizens can have a user-driven experience of accessing public information. More specifically speaking, a citizen can access relevant information based on their need, instead of sifting through several departmental websites.

A Results-Based Strategy

The underlying theme of today’s government operations is results-based management. From the federal government to the local city government, managing based on results has become a standard of operational delivery. This approach, which focuses on metrics, requires active, strategic involvement of communications on multiple levels, including establishing the principle and communicating measurable goals, creating systems and processes for identifying and tracking metrics, and sharing success stores and lessons learned.

Creating a Dialogue

There has also been a shift in communications approaches among public sector organizations. More specifically speaking, elected officials are moving away from traditional models to a more participatory and inclusive approach of fostering meaningful communication and engagement between officials and audiences. This increased focus on engagement has amplified the need for open dialogue due to the impact of social media in shifting expectations of communication.

Furthermore, governments are now recognizing that trust is a necessary condition of effective communication and requires new approaches to dialogue and openness. Governments are shifting toward using techniques such as video conference calls, especially in the wake of COVID-19, for citizen panels and public debates to elevate trust through engagement.

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