In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, effective citizen communications have become an absolute
must. The situation continues to change day-to-day, from updated CDC guidelines to local shelter-in-place orders, and residents crave information on their city’s situation and what they need to do to stay safe. How, in the face of both sweeping change and urgent need, can cities effectively share information with citizens?
The city of Dublin, Ohio is taking a citizens-first approach to Coronavirus communications by sharing information in all the places residents are. That means sources like mobile, social media, and even Alexa play a big role in managing COVID-19 for this city of approximately 42,000 people outside Columbus, OH.
According to Lindsay Weisenauer, Public Affairs Officer for the City of Dublin, the city’s citizens “…have responded positively and engagement is strong on all platforms.” We connected with Lindsay for insight into Dublin’s Coronavirus communications strategy, the role of mobile, and her advice for other local governments.
Effective crisis communication in city government
Rock Solid: How are you sharing COVID-19 information with your citizens?
Lindsay Weisenauer: “We regularly update our website, Alexa Skill (a daily news brief for Alexa devices), and social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, and Instagram. We also added a ‘CORONAVIRUS’ button to our GoDublin app.”
Dublin taps into mobile for COVID-19
RS: Why did you decide to include mobile in your COVID-19 communication plans?
LW: “All of our communication platforms are mobile-friendly, and everything we do is geared toward mobile all the time because that’s where many of our residents access information. Our GoDublin app is a portal for residents to seek information, request services and read updated, trustworthy news sources. We are integrating [the app] into most City operations.”
RS: What kinds of COVID-19-related information have you shared with residents on mobile?
LW: “The button [in the GoDublin mobile app] takes you to our main Coronavirus information page, which features video updates, the latest Coronavirus news, resources, closures and cancellations, and a place to submit questions or concerns.
"We also have guidelines for parks around the city and links to external Coronavirus resources (like Public Health, FAQs, and the CDC). All of our social media accounts also accessed through mobile devices.”
RS: How did you actually implement your mobile COVID-19 messaging? What steps did you take to add or share information with your citizens?
LW: “We promoted GoDublin as a way to get information, ask questions and share concerns. We shared messages about what instances residents should use GoDublin, when they should contact Police and when they should contact the County or State.”
How can local governments communicate effectively?
RS: Do you have any future mobile communication plans around COVID-19?
LW: “We will continue to provide up-to-date, relevant information through our mobile app and push out video, resources, news releases, etc.
“We have put most other communication campaigns on hold, but continue to distribute other important information as needed, including promoting the census and sharing traffic impacts. We are careful not to clog our channels with ‘filler’ material that is not related to Coronavirus crisis.”
RS: What would you recommend to other cities who are thinking about COVID-19 citizen communications?
LW: “Post often, establishing your digital tools as the best place to get accurate, relevant information. Keep a pulse on the community, pay attention to the information they desire and then deliver. Be sure to share positive stories and information. We established a hashtag #DublinCares and showcased positive images from residents.
“Additionally, produce video content. It’s not difficult given the technology available today, and everyone’s standards for video production have loosened during this unconventional situation.”
Dublin, OH connects with citizens where they are
With everyone from government employees to citizens staying at home, Dublin, OH is a great example of adapting communication strategies to get important messages out effectively. The city has carefully analyzed their citizens’ are consuming information – on their phones and in their homes – and are going above and beyond to not just inform, but connect.
To take advantage of mobile’s powerful citizen connectivity like Dublin, add a Coronavirus information button to the home screen of your app.
If you have a Rock Solid app, we are more than happy to help you implement a Coronavirus button to get critical information to citizens as quickly as possible. Get in touch with us here.