In 2013, the City of Reno redesigned its website to better cater to the citizens of the community. Because I use the website often, I instantly took notice once the updates were made. Not only was I delighted to see the fresh, new style, but the prominent search bar, improved navigation, and specifically the customer chat function. At first I was a bit surprised to see that the City, of all local businesses and brands, had such a broad and vast social media presence, and specifically that our local government was suddenly embracing social. But would it catch on? And would it stick?
Earlier this week, Deanna Gescheider, the City of Reno’s Director of Communications and Community Engagement gave a presentation to the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association on the state of the City’s communications efforts from the standpoint of their integrated marketing approach. Below is a copy of the presentation, which outlines the City of Reno’s approach to communications and community engagement:
The City of Reno’s communications department operates as an in-house, full-service marketing agency. Together the department manages and maintains the website and all of its content, including a blog. They produce creative videos, a digital newsletter, and they’ve even launched an app. In addition to maintaining an active presence across several social media channels, they also make weekly appearances on the local KRNV News via Google Hangouts. They host a TV channel and livestream city council meetings, as well as make the content digestable for the public in the form of previewing the issues and later summarizing the highlights. Through these efforts, they attempt to reach the widest possible audience in today’s digital world in order to educate, inform, and engage citizens.
In addition to these tactics, the department also focuses on specific ways engage the community. Below is a video that was produced for the #ThinkReno campaign:
Through the #ThinkReno campaign, the City directly encourages community engagement by asking citizens to answer the question of “what they think Reno can be?” Such questions can be answered via social media using the hash tag #ThinkReno, or via discussion forums at the dedicated website, www.thinkreno.org.
The City also works to creatively promote awareness of important issues within the community, such as through this storm drain campaign:
What’s more, they encourage their City Council members to be more relatable through participating in such causes as the Ice Bucket Challenge:
All in all, it’s been fun to watch the City of Reno’s communications strategy unfold. Over time, I think they’ve been able to successfully help transition the image of city government from un-relatable and stodgy, to one that’s more transparent and participatory. Just yesterday, in fact, the City won another national excellence award for its website.
According to the statistics from their luncheon presentation, on the whole, their strategy appears to be working well as the rate of citizen engagement is growing quickly. For example, their digital newsletter subscriptions are up by 60% since Q1 of 2014, and the number of individuals engaging with them online is also up by 42% as of Q4 of 2013.
Now it’s your turn: what do you think the City of Reno is doing well from the standpoint of its communications strategy? Or, how do you prefer to engage with your local government? What channels of communication work the best for you?