Engaging your community's eyes, ears and minds.
There might come a point when you look at your local government website and wonder, "What is missing? What is the one element, the one vital cog I'm missing to turn this website into an Internet hub, a veritable center of the digital universe? I've got an amazing government content management system, so what else is there to make folks flock to my site?"
Pictures of cats? Viral videos? A game that features slingshotting a various assortment of feathered friends at a collection of well-guarded green livestock?
The answer I'm actually looking for is - wait for it - MULTIMEDIA! (In case you were curious, that word also would score 30 points in a game of Scrabble if you played it on a double word score box.)
"But Jerry," you say, "every website has multimedia on it. Pictures, videos, sound files...how is having that on a government website going to help me engage my citizens?"
With anything on your website, multimedia has to MEAN something to them. It has to have PURPOSE. It must RESONATE with them and ENGAGE them. (Man, I'm writing like a motivational speaker. Note to self: disable the ALL CAPS option from now on.)
The point is, multimedia should have something to do with the "business" of your community and people should want to be able to see and/or hear it on your website. There are any number of things that could be presented on your website in this format, but I will give you some examples to help nail it down for you.
Good Things To Use Multimedia for:
- Video/Audio of city council/county commission meetings.
- Video/Audio of public hearings with citizens' comments also included.
- Powerpoints of presentations that have been given at either of the above events.
- Pictures/slideshows of local events (make sure to show cute kids, if they were there. Or puppies. People love puppies.)
- Put together a slideshow of local areas of interest and/or recreational opportunities. You wouldn't believe the number of people who could view this and say, "Huh! I had no idea our community had a skate park/outside handball court/water lily garden/BMX course! Neat!" Added bonus: if anyone is visiting the area and researches it first (as all good travelers should) you can show them that there are lots of things to do in your town. (CRUCIAL NOTE: Only do this if there are at least a few fun things to do in your town.)
Hopefully, this will give you an idea or two. Show people what you have to offer, engage their eyes and ears, show off your community and get them involved in their community's government.
"But Jerry," you say, "ours is a small community. What good will having multimedia on our site do if we don't have a lot of eyes on it?"
I am glad you asked that, citizen. Allow me to take you to Roanoke County, Va., a community with a population of less than 150,000 that sits southeast of Charleston, W. Va. They had the idea of including multimedia in their website, by putting their local channel (Roanoke Valley TV 3 or RVTV3 for short) on their website.
According to Elaine Bays-Murphy, the audience for their local government meetings ranges from a hundred to over a thousand; some streamed live, some pulled from archives. That's a bunch of people and - here's the best part - it could be people who are engaging this content because they couldn't be at the meeting in person, but still wanted to know what was going on because THEY CARE ABOUT THEIR COMMUNITY! (Darn it, meant to disable that.)
These are concerned, engaged eyes and ears that RVTV3 wouldn't have reached without the magic of multimedia! (Yes, alliterative. Please, hold your applause.)
The point is, can you afford NOT to have multimedia? Sure, but your website is very dry and static. It doesn't have that zing, that mazash, that certain ba-spwing that so many others have. (Yes, those are all real words.) It just kinda sits there. Sure, it's useful to a point, but there's so much more you could be doing with it.
Think about your local government website as a storefront with a big glass window. If you don't have multimedia, you are looking at static, dusty, dull displays with little life - not something you are going to spend a lot of time looking at. However, put some movement in the display, add some color, maybe some sound, and viola - you've got a storefront that attracts, engages and holds peoples' attention. You've got a dynamic community engagement tool, you've got something that will make folks want to stop and stare and then maybe come into your store (or further engage your website in other ways). And with CivicPlus' Media Center, you've got a great start to opening up streaming video to the world, so go nuts!
If you're curious as to how to utilize multimedia, check out our site at www.CivicPlus.com. We've got lots of helpful ideas and examples of how you can use multimedia on your site to engage and heighten interaction on your community website. Really. Go there. NOW (darn, did it again. I need a new keyboard.)
If you found this blog entertaining/helpful/sadly lacking in pictures of puppies, please let us know below.