Seven Keys to Citizen Engagement

get citizens signed up for alerts

We’re developing a turnkey marketing plan that can empower communities to get their citizens signed up for emergency alerts and community notifications. So we’ve been working with a handful of public agency clients to see how the plan works in real life. The results are exciting, so we wanted to summarize seven key opportunities to get the maximum number of your citizens signed up. Even if you use another service, you can use most of these ideas:

1.Push notification, Alexa, and more.

Hyper-Reach has the most ways of any mass notification service to get citizens signed up, and you should use them all.  But we want to focus on two here:

First, you should put a push notification request right on your homepage, as well as any other webpages you think appropriate. If you do it with us, we can then deliver browser-based alerts to every citizen who accepts them. Iif you’re not a Hyper-Reach customer, you can at least use them to push your website visitors to your alert signup page.

Second, you should promote alerts on Alexa. (Sorry if you use another alert provider, this isn’t an option right now.)  Folks with Alexa units (90+ million in the US) just need to say “Alex, enable Hyper-Reach” to start getting alerts on their Alexa-enabled devices.

2. Web page invite: get it right!

Every major provider has a web-based registration form for mass notification, but many communities hide the link or make it difficult for citizens to find. Get a highly visible button with a clear Call To Action and put it where your website visitors will see it.

You can also leverage what internet marketers have been doing for years and use SEO (search engine optimization) tricks and local publicity to help Google, Bing, etc. point citizens to your sign up page links. It’s not hard to do and will make it much easier for citizens to find you.

3. Email

Your city or county has the email addresses of their employees and possibly more. Every one of those people have the email addresses of friends and family in the area. Why not send an email to the folks you can reach easily and ask them to forward your invitation to sign up for your mass public alert system?

You might even try to get the school system to help, since they have the email addresses of teachers at a minimum, and possibly parents. Many school systems have their own mass notification system, which means they’ll appreciate the value of yours, but also means you’ll need to distinguish what you’re offering from the schools’.

You can take this same idea to local organizations and businesses who have their own email lists and recruit them to do the same. After all, they have an interest in the safety of their members and employees.

4. Leverage social media

You probably have a Facebook page and maybe even a Twitter account. Hopefully, you’re using that to promote your enrollment form for your public notification system. But why stop there? There are all kinds of groups in your community with their own Facebook pages and many of them will be willing to post your message to get their members signed up.

And while you’re at it, get yourself a Nextdoor public agency account and promote the signup page there.

5. Flyers and handouts

There are lots of places you can post a handout, flyer or other kind of promotional material. Libraries, senior centers, coffee shops, and restaurants are just a few examples. If you’re a Hyper-Reach customer, we can customize some materials for you from our extensive library of templates.  Just ask!

6. Local real estate

Getting people to sign up for emergency notifications when they first move in seems natural. See if your local landlords and realtors are willing to hand a sign up form to folks who are moving in.

And reach out to homeowners associations and neighborhood groups who may have an email list, bulletin board, newsletter, etc.

7. Your Hyper-Reach system (or a different system, if you have one.)

Using your existing mass notification system is a great way to promote registrations. Your message can suggest that people sign up their cell phone, update their information, and encourage their friends and family to sign up too.  We suggest publicizing this campaign ahead of time and sending your message when it’s least likely to be considered an intrusion.

Obviously, there’s a lot here. To give you an idea of how much, the most recent plan we’ve put together for one of our agency customers is 154 pages long and still growing. But you don’t have to do it all and you don’t need to do it all at once. Get started with the basics and do a little each week. And if you’re a Hyper-Reach customer and want us to help, let us know. Our plan is to help everyone of you get as many citizens as possible enrolled in this vital service.

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