When the economy is bad, and people are hurting, the stories that seem to bubble to the surface in the news are often those that focus on government. When somebody’s mad, the one large entity that people direct that wrath toward is often the government. We might define government as a local municipality, state government, or the federal government. But in any case, problems that are minor which may have been overlooked in the past are now front page news.
There are some obvious reasons for this. When the economy is bad, people’s purse-strings are tightened, and their scrutiny of every individual dollar is heightened. Oftentimes the dollars that are not in one’s control or which seem to rise during bad economic times are those dollars spent on government services – real estate taxes, utilities, sales taxes, personal income taxes, etc.
So during these times, governments have to be hypersensitive to the feelings of their customers – the residents and businesses. They need to make sure that when issues arise they jump out in front with proactive communication plans that not only target the media but which also target individual customers one-on-one. Since the media is more than happy to jump on a negative story and milk it for all it’s worth during times like these, government entities have to determine ways to influence the perceptions of the public in a more one-on-one manner, more directly. They cannot rely on reactive responses to the media; they need to have proactive communications and plans targeting their customers directly.
There is a need to be vigilant during the tough times in getting your message out, because if government organizations – or any organizations for that matter – are in reactive mode when issues arise, loss of control of the message can be a loss of the positive image of the brand that the organization has worked so long to nurture and develop.
Focus on the one-on-one, and be vigilant in your proactive communications during the tough times.
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