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6 govDelivery tips for communicating during COVID-19 pandemic

Many of our customers have been using govDelivery to inform and reassure their communities about COVID-19 developments around the country and the world.

Regular, approachable, and informative communications can help maintain calm during any crisis. They can also reduce the need for residents to call to ask for updates, influencing behaviour and encouraging a sense of community.

Here are six tips to help make the most of your govDelivery communications during this time.

Create a dedicated topic

Consider setting up a dedicated topic for coronavirus updates or identifying which of your existing topics would be best placed to receive news about health and wellbeing (taking into account GDPR). This may be a general news topic, something health specific, or might include tailoring the information you provide to businesses, childcare providers, and schools.

For example, Staffordshire County Council (below) set up a dedicated coronavirus topic and, within a few days, it had nearly 300 subscribers.

Staffordshire County Council Topics

Mine website data for relevant content

Look at your website’s analytics to see whether people are searching for coronavirus or COVID-19, and think creatively about related topics they could be searching for, such as quarantine, masks, hand washing, etc. This will give you an idea of how you should be tailoring your content.

Connect with your customer services team

Speak to your Granicus customer services team to determine whether they are getting calls and, if so, what the themes of those calls are. If possible, see if call handlers can ask callers if they would like to receive emails. They can be added to a specific list via a snippet code.

Update elected officials

Ensure elected members are receiving regular updates so they can act as ambassadors in their communities. It might be a good time to remind them about how residents can sign up for email bulletins from your organisation. Direct elected officials and residents to established and reputable experts such as NHS 111 rather than recreating content on your own website, which would need to be kept current as the situation develops.

Cross-promote your topic

Consider promoting your topic on your other bulletins. This can be particularly effective with topics that run on a page watch, such as job vacancies, adult education, events, or procurement opportunities. Simply use an image link to the website of your organisation or another trusted source. Public Health England provides communications teams with approved imagery for many of its major campaigns that you can add to a bulletin with a link through to NHS Direct. Don’t forget to use a campaign tracker URL and distinguish between your email bulletins, social media, and press release links so you can evaluate what has been most effective later.

Be confident, but approachable

With the amount of misinformation everywhere, residents just want straightforward answers to:

  • What’s the latest news within my city?
  • What are the symptoms, and what should I do if I think I have the virus?
  • Which events, services, and facilities are open or closed?
  • How do I look out for elderly and vulnerable residents and neighbours?
  • What is responsible behaviour around shopping, stockpiling medicines, and human contact?

Your responses should be helpful and direct. For an example, check out Sandwell Council’s communication (see below). They used eye-catching imagery and shared basic information using bullet points and emojis.

Sandwell Council’s communication

Bringing it all together

As a govDelivery customer, you have invaluable tools to help you communicate with residents during this trying time. These six tips will ensure you’re providing effective and relevant communications.

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