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Courthouse Journal

The Courthouse Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Association of County Officials. Along with a newsletter to members, WACO also hosts the Courthouse Journal blog.

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Sep 03

How Well Are You Communicating with Your Public?

Posted on September 3, 2020 at 9:46 AM by Melanie Terry

Amid COVID-19, The General Election and civil unrest, the amount of information (and misinformation) that your constituents are receiving is daunting. Although recent studies report that the average American is spending more time on social media, they are not retaining the same amount of information compared to before COVID-19. It seems that Federal, State, and County agencies are all competing to communicate important information, and thus their shared audiences are becoming overwhelmed. County Offices will face the challenge of communicating changes as their essential duties have been altered and thus their services have changed. This blog will provide tips and resources to navigate communication that effectively and efficiently relays your message to your county residents.  

Break Though the Noise: Creating a centralized voice within your county is vital to your messaging. When county offices can collaborate, converse, and share consistent messaging it conveys a sense of order to the public. Creating a joint force in times of chaos eases the confusion between offices. For example, a joint force could be made up of a staff member of each office, for all offices to work in the same direction.  

Communicate in Various Mediums: Although we have reached an age when social media is dominant in spreading information in a rapid manner, it is important to remember that counties will continue to have audiences that do not use social media. Make sure to keep your website updated with the same information that is pushed through your social media channels. Additionally, your voicemail or answering systems is a good tool when trying to inform individuals of ever-changing updates.  

Cut the Fluff: Data reports that the average user’s attention span on the internet in only 8 seconds. This means that the important message that you are trying to convey must capture its desired audience in a quick and effective method.  Your main communication should be short, quick and understandable, you can always links additional details and text
 

Choose Your Spokesperson: As a County Official, your audience will recognize your face when making public statements, both in times of routine announcements and crisis updates. Add normalcy to your communication by using one spokesperson when adding a face or video to your message. Not only does this create routine, but it also centralizes your communication in a unified manner.  

Resources for Better Communication: