In recent years, local governments have faced the challenges of a global health emergency, extreme weather events, and threats to public safety in schools and the workplace. These events emphasize the importance of communication tools that inform and protect the public.
Traditionally, American trust in local government has been high compared to trust in state and federal government. But several obstacles can easily get in the way of that trust. Local government leaders must continue to evaluate their communication tools and the infrastructure that supports them.
Limitations of Traditional Email Tools in the Public Sector
Technology has certainly had a huge impact on the quality of life for millions of Americans, making it easier to access critical government services and information from their laptop or smartphone. It is now an expectation that all citizens will have efficient access to lawmakers. Unfortunately, it has been more difficult for local governments to have the amount of resources necessary to offer their constituents.
Lack of organization capabilities for constituent communication
I need clean, user-friendly, and faster tools to ensure my constituents stay informed on the opportunities and initiatives now available to them,” says Jose Trinidad Castaneda, City Council Member for the City of Buena Park in Buena Park, CA. “With traditional tools, a typical day for me can be 90 percent emails and 10 percent meaningful meetings. In the future, I hope generative AI-enabled tools free up my day to have 90 percent meaningful meetings, and 10 percent emails.”
Difficulty in handling high volume of emails
Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be top of mind when thinking about the challenges communicating via email with constituents presents. “Through the pandemic, I chose to share vulnerable moments with constituents to show them that they are not alone in moments of hardship. I utilize social media and digital communications to over-communicate when I can’t meet in person,” Senator London Lamar of Tennessee said in a roundtable discussion organized by the Council of State Governments.
Limited tracking and analytics features
Senator Ajay Pittman of Oklahoma expressed a similar strategy due to the added challenge of the digital divide in communities of color. “I had to change the way I communicated due to the lack of internet and email access for residents in poverty and those who lost everything due to the pandemic,” she says. “Therefore, I had to adapt to a new process of communicating with constituents such as robocalls, texting campaigns, and email blasts.”
With the added use of social media and other digital tools to communicate, there must also be an increased focus on cybersecurity. One of the major challenges to creating a unified cybersecurity strategy for the public sector is that there are over 90,000 local governments — each having their own communication and security systems. Cyber attacks can result in lost productivity due to remediation efforts like restoring data, repairing systems, and investigations.
Why Local Government Officials Need Specialized Communication Platforms
The requirements for constituent communication tools include the need for ease of use and accessibility on any device, whether in the office or remote. Local government officials need a tool that works like a personal assistant that simplifies the daily processes required for your job. Fireside offers all this and more for modern-day constituent communications.
What local governments need is a specialized platform for constituent communications that includes multi-channel communication capabilities, policy tracking, and web services. The platform should include features from everyday communication tools like newsletters, virtual town meetings, and correspondence with residents without the hassle of having to jump between platforms.
If you have new employees who have not been oriented to using the tool, you don’t have to waste precious time on hours of training. You can implement the use of templates and ready-built resident lists that ensure your office can send out professional-looking communications promptly. Secure web forms that sync to the Fireside platform make it easy for constituents to stay in touch.
Want to send an alert to a select group of people so you don’t clutter everyone’s inbox? Audience filters are available to help you narrow the recipient list so it only goes to the most relevant residents. And you’ll always have the best resident contact information and demographic data because the database updates itself whenever new public information is available.
Take Fireside for a Spin
Why do government officials need a better constituent communication tool? Because traditional email tools are limited. With Fireside, you can automate the process of filtering personalized email messages and make it easier to respond to constituent requests. Templates help you remain consistent in how you communicate when addressing repeating concerns. Specialized platforms like Fireside are designed to meet the specific needs of the business of government. If you’re ready to explore your options, request a demo to see how Fireside can make a difference in your communication strategy.
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- Save time on organizing your inbound messages
- Streamline your communication workflows
- Strengthen relationships with constituents
- Target and tailor your outreach efforts