Finding Success in Public Sector PR
According to Fortune, Walmart is considered the largest company globally, with an annual budget of approximately $524 billion dollars. However, one entity dwarfs Walmart with a massive $1.5 trillion dollar budget – The Federal Government of the United States. Although many analysts predict a slump in procurement spending in 2022, the United States federal government is still the most lucrative and prized customer globally.
Finding success in communicating with government customers is an area many companies fall short of due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the golden rule of the public sector: Communicating to the government is uniquely different from any other audience, whether it be businesses or consumers.
To navigate these unique waters, you need an experienced team that understands the government agency and worker from top to bottom and who works and breathes the ins and outs of the ever-changing and complex world of communicating with the public sector. Also, know that a true public sector communications professional is a rare breed. While some PR professionals have worked for a public sector client, there are painfully few that specialize in this area, and they are becoming harder and harder to find.
Give it to the pros. You go to a doctor when you are sick. You seek a lawyer when needing legal advice. Even the military has special forces to handle the most difficult tasks. It is imperative to know when to seek the skills and guidance you need for a specialized task. The communications and networking landscape that is more complicated than ever, so don’t attempt to navigate it without qualified public relations guidance.
If you have a public sector division, you need a specialized team to support your engagement and communications efforts. It’s a lot like the intro to the 80’s TV show the A-Team.
If you have a problem, and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you need to hire. . .
the Public Sector PR team.
Without having to get into any arguments on where Mr. T fits into the grand scheme of my symbolism, the important takeaway is simply this: a public sector PR team is a lean, highly-specialized group of professionals that will provide support and guidance for your organization to maximize success in the government space. Full Stop.
Unique Needs of the Public Sector
Government agencies and the people that work within have uniquely different needs and offer challenges not seen in private sector businesses. They respond to their own language and terminologies – and traditional marketing buzzwords fall flat in the government sector. In order to engage and communicate effectively, your public sector PR program needs to speak to the distinct demands and needs of both the government official and their respective agencies’ core mission.
Simply inserting words like ‘federal’ and ‘government’ into your existing enterprise messaging is not going to cut it with government audiences. Government employees have their own language, with each agency having a distinct dialect with mandates, certification requirements, and other factors that dictate how they shape their needs as well as find vendors. Federal, state, local, and education entities each have needs and challenges you need to hand-tailor your approach, messaging, and engagement to truly resonate with these audiences.
By having a B2G Public Relations team, you gain the proficiency and experience required to establish your organization, brand, people, and offerings to the public sector customer in a manner that provides long-term stability and success.
State, Local, and Education (SLED) PR
Much like federally public sector PR – state, local, and education comms require a specialized approach and methodology in order to educate, help drive leads, and raise awareness for your brand and services – often in multiple target regions. This is where your public sector PR team will also show extreme value in that SLED communication programs can be executed from any location, giving your organization both awareness and presence in multiple target areas without the need to have permanent ‘boots on the ground.’
Why is this important now? Government contracting dollars and opportunities for state, local, and education (SLED) budgets have made a comeback in 2022, with states showing the largest annual spending increase in more than a decade and many reporting tremendous tax revenue growth from 2021. This, coupled with federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act and the infrastructure bill, point to substantial opportunities with SLED entities – and the right PR and marketing strategy can help you take full advantage of these opportunities.
A public sector SLED team is specially equipped to handle multiple regions with different cultural, governmental, and social norms to help you project an expansive market footprint for your brand and expertise in mission-critical areas. Whether it’s in Houston, Texas, or Fairbanks, Alaska, a strategic SLED PR campaign will help establish your presence where you need it.
Public Sector PR Expertise
Public sector teams, their missions, and definitions of success come in all shapes and sizes, many times wholly different from the rest of the business – and your communications program and PR team need to as well.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I can just use my corporate communications team to handle public sector comms.’ The response to this is a simple question – ‘Are you using your corporate sales team to sell into the public sector?’ Of course not; you need your sales team to know your customer base and the specifics of the marketplace – so you have a team that specializes in the public sector customer. Your organization is making a strategic investment to go after government customers, and that investment should include communications that specializes (just as much as your sales team) in that customer space. While your in-house comms team or corporate agency might be able to help get you started, these efforts will only be table stakes if you don’t have a team that truly understands the federal, state, local, and education sectors.
There are countless unique differences between the public sector and business/consumer corporate communications. Understanding sales cycles, trends that will gain traction, how social media works in the government space, and how to most effectively engage the people who are going to help make a difference in your public sector strategy are just some of the key differences and capabilities a public sector PR team will bring to your team to help drive success.
Measuring Success for Public Sector PR
Historically, measuring PR success has always presented challenges, and traditional means of measurement are not conducive to adequately measuring or portraying success in the public sector. Most companies rely on measuring PR efforts directly back to sales, which in the public sector is a tough row to hoe. Our public sector teams are adept at benchmarking and measuring the metrics that count the most in the public sector.
They have the ability to measure web traffic, inbound leads from content and social media, the share of voice, and qualitative comments from customers and partners – data points your team can rely on to justify and optimize your public sector engagement and confidently measure your public sector PR success.
Find Your Public Sector PR Team
You are now asking yourself – where can I find highly specialized public sector communications professionals to support my needs? Regardless of the size of your company or government division, Bluetext can help you establish, engage and scale your communications to the public sector and get the most out of your communication efforts! Contact Bluetext to help your organization drive B2G brand awareness and lead generation through public relations.