There is no shortage of sincere effort in G2C outreach and education. Today, more than ever, more and more people need help. As often as not, that need is placed on the doorstep of government agencies and not-for-profits. The need to build collaborative, public/private sector coalitions that are accountable for producing results is increasing.
Initiatives that are modeled after traditional “product” oriented marketing virtually always fall short of expectations and accountability. There’s a reason. Outreach and education typically involves changing behavior. Product marketing is oriented toward convincing someone to buy a product or service from a specific brand that they are already inclined to want. Example: It’s one thing to convince someone who wants a taco to buy from Taco Bell. It’s a completely different story and approach convincing someone to stop smoking, get appropriate healthcare, practice healthy living or even change their attitudes towards addiction or mental health issues in others.
Think of the concept as a puzzle. When all the pieces are in place, great things happen and the quality of someone's life is changed for the better.
Piece #1 Political Support
G2C outreach and education nearly always involves the need for political support. The political significance of the issue offers opportunities for key proponents, legislation, funding sources and public champions to name a few.
Piece #2 Public/Private Partnerships
More often than not, the answer to an identified need falls in the purview of both government and the private sector. Building a coalition dedicated to the same goal magnifies the efforts. It multiplies resources. It builds unity. It creates common voice. It increases positive results. It complements and supports the agenda of each coalition member.
Piece #3 Consensus
One of the challenges of building a coalition is realizing that the agenda, goals, objectives and approaches of each participant aren’t identical. They’re separate entities, with separate approaches, and that’s good. The overall goal of the coalition should be to build an umbrella of strategies, goals, tactics and messages that there is consensus support for. As a result, the plan, collaboratively authored by the coalition members, should contribute to the success of each entity in pursuing their individual agenda. Simply put, consensus contributes to synergy
Piece #4 Common Voice
Successful outreach and education embraces a common, core message that all members of the effort can and will support. We refer to that message as common voice. Imagine the effect of multiple leaders and organizations coming together and saying the same thing over and over again in the same words, about the same issue.
Piece #5 Consumer Centric
People are not statistics. They’re consumers of the service or issue you’re championing. Effective G2C programs are built on that foundation. The program can either tell your audience what it wants to say (which will typically have at best reduced impact), or it can say what they tell you they will hear and positively react to. It’s the core of every successful program. Think consumer research that helps identify opportunities and barriers, emotional and rational, that your customer is encountering.
Piece #6 Access
To affect behavior, you need to facilitate the change you’re promoting. That means providing access to the system of available services for the issue that is focused, clear and simple. Centralized web sites, on-line access, centralized toll free numbers and simplified application forms are all examples of a coalition coming together and facilitating access to the consumer.
Piece #7 Funding
It takes funding to drive the message, create response and manage the change.
Building a coalition can often help develop the funding needed by spreading the investment among several entities. Federal programs, grants and private funding are often sources for this piece of the puzzle.
Piece #8 Outcome Measurement
One of the first things that a program needs to do is clearly identify the goal that it wants to achieve followed by what is the outcome to be measured, how it will be measured and when it will be measured. Success should be defined from the beginning.
Dan Cowling is the agency president, founder and G2C outreach and education leader at The Communications Group in Little Rock, AR. Dan has successfully led the development of G2C outreach and education programs over a 30-year period at the agency. His specialty is the development of public issue communications programs that are typically built around public and private sector coalition development. Check out Dan’s G2C outreach and education leadership here.
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