Is There A “Universal Language” In State and Local Government?

“The constant free flow of communication amount us – enabling the free interchange of ideas – forms the very bloodstream of our nation. It keeps the mind and body of our democracy eternally vital, eternally young.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Where does communication start in state and local government?

What kind of dog do you have? Do you have multiple? Do they ever just stare at each other and then start playing around?

What kind of unspoken language do dogs and other animals have that allows them to communication without any verbal acknowledgement?

The topic of communication is so vast, which makes it incredibly interesting. It includes radio waves, body language, social intelligence, parts of your brain connectivity; so many different components that I can understand why it’s so difficult to get it right! In government, it can be especially challenging. Social media is becoming overcrowded and emails don’t get sent to the inbox anymore. There are companies that have been around for decades that are working on breaking down the specifics and intricacies of how to best communicate. Providing platforms for engagement is the best way to create that universal language: community is king.

You have COVID information splattered all over your website. There are community events that are coming up in the next couple of months and you want as many people to attend as possible. You’ve organized important council meetings for residents to engage in so they can have more of an impact on how their city grows. You’ve posted job opportunities that folks don’t know about. There are alerts such as water boil notices, natural disasters, and amber alerts that you need distributed to your residents as quickly and as efficiently as possible. What are some other facts or pieces of information that you’re looking to get out to your residents?

What’s involved in government communication?

“But we just put that information on our social media.”

There’s more to marketing than social media. Communication is about listening and gaining feedback. Communication is a two-way street. Would you say that building trust is the most important part of any relationship? Why treat the relationship between yourself and your residents any different? When you build trust with your audience, you gain their support for future endeavors such as public works projects, main street redesigns, website redesigns, and so much more. Proper communication can get you feedback to fuel the right type of growth. If you’re stuck in the forest, there’s no point in chopping trees towards the wrong direction.

I don’t think there is a universal language when it comes to state and local government. Everyone is striving to communicate differently to different demographics. However, there is a universal culture; Growing! Gain insights from your neighbors in your community and see what’s working – and what’s not working – for them. There’s so much division in government, it feels good to work as a team!

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