"The community of local government professionals has a long history of freely sharing what works and what doesn't," said Ashley Fruechting, Vision's senior director of marketing. "Experience is the best guide in finding strategies and tactics to convince local leadership that the time for new thinking and digital transformation is now. To that end, we asked municipal leaders to share the best piece of advice they would give to someone struggling to demonstrate the importance of the web to their leadership."
Though Vision received a wide range of responses, the advice boiled down to one overarching message: Focus on resident expectations. Drilling down, respondents offered four key tactics to support this mission:
- Use data to drive decisions
- Focus on transparency
- Connect to your community
- Save time and money
Local government leaders like Brett White, digital media coordinator for the City of West Hollywood, Calif., study the cold, hard data and leverage analytics to prove their case. He recommended obtaining metrics from peer cities on how their websites are performing.
"We're a city of only 35,000 people," White said. "Our website gets 2,000,000 page views per year and our social media activity has a reach of over 300,000 per month. It's really hard to argue against the numbers."
Municipalities that focus on transparency view their websites as invaluable channels for building trust.
Jeanne Villa, information analyst for California's Novato Fire District, said. "We have to be as transparent about our revenue, expenditures and services as possible. The public demands it. The best way to meet that demand is to have an easy to navigate website. A side effect is that we receive fewer phone calls about general information because we have made it easily accessible to the public on our website."
Cities with a strong digital presence recognize that an effective website allows residents to connect with government where and when they want, which means creating mobile-ready platforms.
"For local government, a website is the No. 1 most important piece of communication that exists," said Erin Bryce, community outreach manager for the City of North Port, Florida. "In today's digital age, people rely on website searches to get the answers that they need. And, in many cases, they are using their mobile phones to conduct that search. You can't search Facebook for information about obtaining a permit to put a fence around your back yard; you can't search Twitter. But you can search Google - or even ask Siri - and find information on a city's website."
A strong website is "the workhorse of your organization," concluded Peggy Flynn, communications manager for the City of Novato, Calif. "It provides your organization with the platform to embrace transparency, customer service and open government. A robust online presence reduces customer frustration and ultimately staff time."
To download Vision's "In Their Own Voices: How to Build Buy-In for a Strong Digital Presence," and other featured eBooks, visit www.visioninternet.com/resources/ebooks-new. For more insights, call Vision at 888-263-8847.
Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Vision is a national leader in government website development with more than 700 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. For more than 20 years, Vision has created cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, transparency and interactive communications with citizens. The company's powerful, easy-to-use visionLive™ content management system continues to evolve with feedback from hundreds of municipal clients. In 2016, Vision was named to Government Technology magazine's GovTech 100, a listing of leading companies developing innovative or disruptive offerings to improve or transform government. The company also was named a top 10 company serving local government by Engaging Local Government Leaders in its 2016 ELGL Choice Awards.
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