Blogging hasn’t been an obvious communication channel for many local government agencies, but it should be considered an untapped opportunity to connect and engage with residents. Your blog acts as a complementary channel to your social media outlets and website pages, allowing your residents to access relevant information in one central place.
Many leaders worry about time and effort, but it only takes a bit of each to get started. Here are 5 best practices to help you get started with a local government blog so you can start reaping the benefits of engagement.
1. Make a Plan
Think about what kind of blog you need, who your audience is and why they should be interested. Is it going to be a communication tool for an elected official or department? Will it be a home for general news and updates? What about a hub for details that supplement the succinct information found on your website?
2. Set Goals
Consider what the goal of your blog will be. Set clear goals, like providing clear explanations of a new policy, giving timely updates about roadwork closures, or delivering general news. As your blog matures, check back with your goals and refine them as necessary.
3. Make it Engaging
Capture the reader’s attention with interesting and relevant headlines, using a conversational tone, and formatting copy so that it’s easy to scan and read. Don’t be afraid to get creative with eye-catching headlines. Create “top” lists and evocative questions to catch the reader’s attention. Break up large blocks of copy with subheads and bullets to make the content easy to read. Refer to our content strategy best practices to learn how to communicate clearly on the web.
4. Enhance with Video and Imagery
According to Writtent, images can boost engagement with your post by up to 50%. Choose eye-catching but relevant images to complement your blog post and break up a copy-intensive page. Use images to help tell your story.
5. Commit to Maintaining Your Presence
Time for local government staff is precious and highly-valued. It can be difficult for leaders to get on board with providing consistent updates. However, blogging doesn’t need to be as demanding as it seems. Think about blogging as part of the content creation your organization already does. Writing a blog post is similar to writing for social media or your website – use it as a chance to provide a deeper explanation of the topics you’re presenting. Or, if you need some ideas to fill in content gaps, check out our Evergreen Blog Topics list for inspiration.
Blog posts don’t have to be long, but they do need to be relevant and a reliable source of information. Once you’re ready to go with your blog, be mindful that your approach should be refined over time. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Local Government Blogging for more detailed tips on getting started with your blog.