Got your grit on? #BeastFromTheEast
As the “The Beast From The East” continues to cause grief across much of the UK, even residents in the sun traps of Brighton, Scarborough and Margate have swiped all the bread and biscuits from the supermarket, and battened down their hatches in readiness for a “snow week” (#flakenews).
While some people wait with baited breath for the announcement of a “snow day”, others without job security, mobility, or social safety network dread it. Severe weather can bring uncertainty, confusion and even fear and danger for many residents, especially those most vulnerable. For others it’s a convenient opportunity to let rip about the inadequacy of their bin collection service, or their views on the road network. But what about when councils and other public services are forthcoming with information and provide customers with regular updates to make them feel cared for and in-the-know? Do citizens still have the ammo and inclination to take to Twitter for a moan? Perhaps not.
A severe weather warning issued by @metoffice has an Amber warning for snow on Tues. We're putting preparations in place & implementing contingency plans. Our latest Stay Connected bulletin has advice and information. #gritting ❄️❄️❄️ https://t.co/voYrzlr8C9 pic.twitter.com/CJU4LHYEUl
— Bradford Council (@bradfordmdc) February 26, 2018
In difficult weather conditions, whomever and however many citizens your organisation serves, important public services still need to be served up day in day out. Citizens expect information and fast, and it’s the council’s job to provide local leadership.
Communicating service changes and closures, travel and road disruption, and alternative courses of action to the people affected is the only way to help keep them at ease, healthy and safe during out-of-the-ordinary circumstances.
Example of Central Bedfordshire Council’s winter comms.
During severe weather, understandably residents’ have a thirst for information to help them make the best possible decisions. Their bins haven’t been collected, so they go searching for an updated timetable; parents seek information about school closures; others google how to request more grit for their street. During extreme weather, many citizens land on their council’s website for the very first time, so it is a prime opportunity to let them know about other services and local opportunities they may be interested in.
So when the snow starts to fall, be prepared for an influx of web traffic and the chance to open residents’ eyes to all the good things on offer to them.
Here at @CaerphillyCBC we've received almost 1000 new subscriptions in the past 24 hours. No major snowfall yet. Last time it snowed in December we had over 10,000 new subscriptions in 2 days. #govdelivery @GranicusUK https://t.co/WxeRQkJRjI
— Nick Rutter (@taffyschnauzer) February 27, 2018
Make sure you’re capturing thousands more new email subscribers by making sign-up options prominent on your website. Add a web overlay on popular landing pages to invite people to subscribe to email or SMS updates on the very subject they’re researching. If you’ve a new digital service, promote it on your homepage to get more people transacting online. Let citizens know how to access your services more easily.
View full bulletin from Poole Borough Council here >
Use your email updates service to inform people about your winter preparedness plans, and build this audience well in advance of the winter months. Do the same for summer.
Stay safe people! #uksnow
If you’d like some help with your winter preparedness communications and strategy for engaging citizens in your services and initiatives, please let us know.