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Fostering Citizen Communications: The 5 Best Ways to Engage Constituents

By Anna Figliola

It can be really hard for government agencies to communicate with constituents, even when they dedicate time and energy to this task. But why is it so difficult for local governments to engage their constituents? 

We all know that constituent engagement is necessary in order for governments to deliver effective services and have a positive impact in the community. While it’s common to have difficulty engaging with constituents who assume they have better things to do than engage with their local legislators, constituent engagement is the backbone of democracy. Getting around this communication roadblock doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. 

Improving local government/constituent communications and getting your citizens to engage is paramount. If you don’t know what your constituents need, how can you serve them? Get ahead of communication silos and feedback voids now by adopting new technology solutions and workflows.

Keep reading to learn about how GovPilot can help local governments engage their citizens in a robust way, and the innovative communication strategies you can implement now to make it possible. 

Why Is Constituent Engagement Important? 

Constituent engagement serves as the cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant democracy. It fosters a dynamic and important relationship between the governing bodies and the people they represent. Robust channels of constituent engagement ensures that the voices of citizens are not only heard by their leadership but also heeded within the decision-making process. Citizens deserve to be represented accurately, and the only way to ensure that is to improve constituent engagement.

This country is founded on actively involving constituents in political discourse to guarantee that all levels of government can gain valuable insights into the diverse needs, concerns, and aspirations of their community. This form of engagement and communication enhances your government’s legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of your citizens. Moreover, having ample avenues which constituents can reach their government officials empowers individuals to actively participate in shaping the policies and initiatives that directly impact their lives.

Check out our Constituent Engagement Software to streamline the process!

Why Aren’t Constituents Engaging With Their Government? 

We know how vital and necessary constituent engagement is for government officials and even for citizens themselves; So why aren’t they engaging with their elected officials? The answer to this question is multifaceted, but simple at the same time: constituents are busy, and reaching out to their government is not convenient. In today’s age of immediate gratification, convenience is vital to all citizens. They are used to ordering food, Ubers, groceries and clothes, often having them delivered within minutes. However, when constituents think of reaching out to their government, they imagine never-ending lines at city hall and hours of waiting on the phone for an automated message. 

When citizens are busy or they’re uninterested, they often don’t bother to go out of their way and engage with their government. If communication with the local government was more streamlined, constituents would feel like their voices and opinions matter more and this would empower them to engage more on their own. 

Learn How To Combat Common Constituent Misconceptions About Local Government here. 

5 Key Tips To Improve Citizen/Government Communication

Communications between residents in a community and their local government can always undergo improvements. Here are the most immediate ways to improve your rates of constituents engagement now: 

1. Utilize Online Technology and Social Media 

One way to provide constituents with more convenient ways to hear from your municipal government is to utilize social media and leverage it to get your messages in front of them. Virtually everyone uses social media everyday from Instagram to Facebook to Twitter (X). How amazing would it be if constituents would check their social media feeds for your updates every morning? Well that reality is not too far away. 

Ensure that your local government has a strong social media presence so that your announcements and social posts will naturally pop up on the screens of your residents. It is extremely easy for constituents to open instagram and read information from their local government when it is already waiting in their feed. You have the potential to communicate with constituents within moments, everyday, simply by improving your local government’s social media presence and keeping those accounts active. Encourage your residents to follow their local government on social media to stay up to date!

Read our Guide To Building A Government Marketing Strategy To Engage Constituents here. 

2. Provide Accessible Communication Channels

One key to engaging your residents is to ensure that communication channels are accessible to all citizens, including those with disabilities or limited internet access. Online channels for communication are a terrific way for constituents to get updates on their community. However, not all constitutions have the same abilities or access to online platforms. Some community-members don’t have the ability to read updates or access social media daily. The best way to combat these challenges is to get ahead of them. 

Make sure that all online platforms you run have easy-to-understand content that uses basic language and even has translation functions if possible. Enable audio/visual aids online so residents of any physical ability can receive the same information and newsletter notifications so residents without internet access can see recent updates once their phones are activated. 

Consider Disability Inclusion Planning in Government with us here. 

3. Encourage Feedback Mechanisms

Reaching out to authority figures and leadership within the government can be intimidating at times, and this likely discourages citizens from voicing their opinions as often as they want to. Establish avenues for citizens to provide feedback, ask questions, and voice concerns to their government leaders. This can include town hall meetings, public forums, online surveys, and suggestion boxes that allow constituents to anonymously contribute to their community. Establish a culture of openness and transparency in order to inspire constituents to feel free to do the same.

GovPilot also proposes additional solutions for inspiring constituent feedback with our Report-A-Concern software. This software solution allows constituents to voice concerns, opinions and complaints to their local government officials through a fully online app that is available on the Google Play or App Store 24/7. Reports and concerns will then be automatically submitted online to the appropriate department to be addressed, giving citizens more confidence in the ability of their government to implement necessary solutions in the community. 

Learn about How to Bring Digital Democracy to Government Agencies!

4. Highlight Education and Constituent Awareness

This could potentially be the biggest hurdle facing constituent engagement in your municipality: Many citizens may not fully understand how government functions or how various policies affect them. Invest in public educational initiatives within your community to increase civic literacy and raise awareness about government processes, citizen rights, and governmental responsibilities. Public information campaigns, and workshops can be hosted for community-members to ensure they can ask questions and learn all they need to know about their role in democracy. 

Learn about Upward Mobility Planning At The Local Level with GovPilot! 

5. Create In-Person Opportunities For Engagement 

One aspect that we are losing from local governance daily is in-person opportunities for community engagement. Be sure to host and attend local community events and public meetings in order to allow constituents to have face time with their representatives. Local public events in community spaces or organized in-person meetings allow citizens to experience live interactions with their leaders, and can inspire more trust for government officials and processes overall. 

Learn How to Manage & Improve Local Public Meetings & Events with us!

The Benefits of Increased Constituent Engagement

There are numerous benefits to improving your community engagement with constituents. Here are just a few of the key benefits you’ll experience after utilizing our tips:

  • Policies Better Reflect Constituent Needs

When constituents get involved in local politics, the local policies better represent what they want to see! Laws and policies in your community should reflect the beliefs of all residents, and when they are more engaged with their community and inspired to vote for their interests, this becomes a reality. You’ll no longer have to guess what constituents want for their community, with improved voter turnout and constituent engagement rates your citizens will make it easy for you to represent them.  

  • More Cohesive Community Vision

All communities need a community vision with goals and aspirations that unite all people. This underrated part of building a strong community helps to bring your citizens together and work towards improving their home city. When more residents get involved in community engagement, the community vision starts to include their ideas too, and reflect the community in a more cohesive way. 

Refine Your Local Core Values with The Five Principles of Local Government here! 

  • Governments Receive Better Feedback

It is way easier to receive feedback from constituents when they have available channels to communicate with their leaders such as social media, online polls, online forms, in-person meetings and Report-A-Concern software. 

Check out our Constituent Engagement Software!

  • Voter Turnout Increases

If you can improve constituent engagement in your community, the rates of turnout for elections will naturally improve with it! It’s simple: When constituents feel valued and heard, they’re far more likely to continually share their opinions through the polls

  • Opinions About Your Government Improve

One of the main reasons to improve government relations with citizens is to improve the reputation and credibility of your locality. It’s no surprise that some citizens don’t openly appreciate or like government in general, so improving the way they view you and becoming an entity of help and convenience will help your community flourish.

Consider They Key To Improving Transparency In Local Government with our resource. 

Implement Innovative Constituent Communication Strategies Now 

Implementing our tips and strategies is vital as it will inspire more constituent engagement in your locality, and make it easier to interact with citizens. Gauge citizen feedback, better deliver municipal services and see increased voter turnout when you place value and effort in constituent engagement. Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn all about our Constituent Engagement Software and what we could do to improve local governance in your municipality. 

Government/Citizen Communication FAQs

  • Why is it so hard to stay in touch with constituents?

Staying in touch with constituents is hard at times because they are often busy and don’t have ample time to connect with their government officials. Convenience is a big deal to citizens today, and improving the convenience of dealing with the government will improve communications too. 

  • How do constituents benefit from streamlined communication channels with their government? 

Constituents are able to receive important updates, information and warnings from their government much faster with streamlined communication channels than they ever would be without strategies in place. Citizens experience improved peace of mind and happiness when they can communicate with their local leadership in more streamlined matters. 

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Tags: Constituent Engagement, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation