What’s out is in again: Re-energizing classic resources

If yours is like most communities, there are likely great resources that have been developed to either help constituents or promote government services, but may have fallen to the wayside with lack of attention.Perhaps once widely utilized and well-known, these resources may now be outdated and in need of a breath of fresh air.

From recycling programs to snow removal communications to highway adoption litter clean-up programs, many municipalities and provinces have seen an increased need for these resources, but have found a lack of awareness in newer populations. Some government entities have turned to social media, while others have opted for rebranding.

511 is an example of a slightly newer resource that the Canadian government commissioned a report on several years ago, but hasn’t taken much action on since. Provinces like Quebec and Nova Scotia have rolled it out to communicate road conditions to callers and Web visitors. Nova Scotia reports that the transition from a 1-800 number to the 511 service was relatively painless, and that caller volume has increased by about five times. Environment Canada is part of the Canada 511 Consortium, and intends to eventually leverage the 511 services to deploy weather updates.

Here’s how to take a cue and bring new life to resources in your own community:

  1. Review the resource
    First things first: It’s no secret that some resources fall to the wayside not because they’ve become tired, but because they’re not being utilized. So, take efforts to understand if a resource is in need of an update or in need of retiring. Host diverse focus groups or utilize community input to ask for opinions on local government resources. Offer participants an incentive for providing feedback—like an embroidered baseball hat or a rugged aluminum sport bottle.
  2. Make it relevant again
    Refocus, repurpose and redesign the resource to make it applicable to current audiences. Use survey or focus group information to target the resource to audiences most likely to utilize such services. This might mean updating the visual identity of a resource or the channel within which is communicated. Crowd source the ideas for new logos, taglines or brandings by taking to the community with a rebranding contest. Entice constituents to enter their ideas by offering prizes for all entries, like practical umbrellas or chrome tumblers.
  3. Spread the word
    Start fresh with a new communications or marketing campaign that aims to enliven the awareness of a resource. Get out in the community with creative tools to build buzz like leaving small branded items printed with a URL, such as wooden nickels or round magnets, strategically left behind at local businesses or in unexpected places. Utilize social media channels and more traditional direct mail tactics to be heard, too.

Last but not least, once a resource has been revitalized, take efforts to keep it from once again falling to the wayside. Continue to seek constituent and user feedback and grow the resource as the community grows and changes, too. Then you’re sure to have a truly classic resource on your hands.

”511 Service off to a Slow Start in Canada.” IT World Canada. 20 May 2008. Web 8 September 2010.
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