Making Promotion Possible in the Federal Government

‘Marketing’, ‘Advertising’, ‘Promotion’, and ‘Branding’ – the Federal Government tends to shy away from these terms. While some areas of government, such as Medicare and Armed Forces recruitment justifiably spend large amounts on advertising, other areas tend to target communications or outreach to specific stakeholders through static websites or presentations/booths at conferences. More savvy organizations may also tweet or place updates on Facebook, but they lack promotion to attract followers. Federal program managers desperately want to convey the value of their programs for citizens and stakeholders, but don't have a mechanism to do it. So, what can a Federal program do to garner attention? – Here are a few tips:

  1. Do work that makes an impact – When your program does work that matters to your stakeholders, they will promote your work for you. Word of mouth is still a very effective way to get your message out - just make sure you have a place for stakeholders to go to learn more.
  2. Figure out your message and say it over and over again – Make your message your brand and make that message compelling for the audience you are trying to reach. Consistency across all your outreach methods will help stakeholders get to know your program and know what to expect from the program's agenda.
  3. Try new avenues for reaching your stakeholders – Have you gone to the same three conferences year after year? In all likelihood you are running into the same people each time. Mix in new and unique events to talk about your programs and the impact you are having on the day-to-day lives of stakeholders.
  4. Make your presentations noticeably different – Consider a visual recording of the session, interactive presentations, and a panel discussion rather than your standard presentation. By delivering differently, you can create a buzz and interest in your program that you wouldn't have had otherwise.
  5. Don’t spin your wheels. If something isn’t working, try something else – If you consistently feel like you aren’t reaching your stakeholders it is time to push the pause button on your communications strategy. Retool the strategy focusing on new mechanisms for reaching your stakeholder communities.

What are the ways you have seen the Federal Government successfully ‘promote’ their programs without crossing the line into advertising?