How you don't need to just bang out a press release but bark up the right tree and at the right time whatever the channel.
We are a council. We have no competition. We will build a website and they (our residents) will come and visit.
As if it was all that easy. We are all fighting to get our voice heard in a noisy world, where we are bombarded with communication messages morning, noon and night. Web. Email. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. YouTube. Press. TV. Radio. Where does it end!
You’ve heard the phrase “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got”. How very true.
In the public sector, we have to start to think differently in order to reach our customers.
I listened to a talk recently from Dave Trott , entitled Predatory Thinking. One of Dave’s main points was “Whatever you do, you need to stand out. Kill everyone else (not literally). Stand out from the 1000s of other messages.”
This came from a guy who created some of the most iconic UK TV ads in the late 80’s early 90’s - “Ello Tosh got a Toshiba” “Ariston and on and on” ring a bell? Younger readers, please bear with me!
At Central Bedfordshire Council we’ve been thinking differently, working within a tight budget but being creative.
Facebook and Google advertising
In 2012, we dipped our toes in the water with Facebook and Google AdWord advertising. We aim to delve a bit deeper in 2013 as we launch more online self service tools e.g. specifically targeting customers in our region on Facebook to report problems online instead of lifting the phone. On Google we will target keywords when we launch online highways reporting e.g. report a pothole in Dunstable.
We are working closely on our digital strategy with Net Natives, a Brighton based agency, who will handle our pay per click campaigns – they are the experts and will help us get the biggest bang for our buck – or in this case pounds!
We will also be introducing Facebook Apps which we will build ourselves (with help initially from Net Natives CMS Big Top). This will allow us to engage more effectively on Facebook, as they highlighted – what goes on in Facebook, stays in Facebook. This will include simple FAQ Apps and registration forms e.g. find out more about becoming a Foster Carer.
Get the mix right
It’s no good any more having “just” an article in the residents’ magazine, or firing out a press release, or just having good website copy. They all need to be in the mix sometimes, but more importantly you have to be targeting where your customer base is.
You have to make sure you are barking up the right tree, and making all the right noises in the right place at the right time – the basic marketing concept!
So, whilst we have no “competition”, we are competing in a noisy environment for our residents' attention. We want to grab that attention at a time when our customers need us most. It might only be once or twice a year, but with 254k residents, we want to make sure that once or twice a year is covered – online.
Alan Ferguson is Web Manager at Central Bedfordshire Council