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Launch Kit

How to launch your new civic engagement portal


Launching your new community engagement portal to the public is probably the most important part of your technology implementation! This Launch Kit summarizes some key steps to consider when developing your launch plans. These tips were collected from our most successful clients. Hopefully, they will help get your community actively engaged and involved in your new site. As you embark on the creation of your launch plan, you are highly encouraged to inform us of your launch dates and details so we can help you spread the word! Please send an email to Lauren Alexander, Director of Corporate Communications, lauren@granicus.com, when youve started your plans. Step 1: Identify your target audience & directly market to them The first step in your launch plan is to determine your target audience. Who should be aware and involved in your new community engagement solution? Typically our customers target the groups that they regularly communicate with: constituent groups, business stakeholders, community leaders, other governmental departments, and the local media. Its important to consider these audiences as you plan the best approach to announce the new site to them through your regular communication channels, including, newsletter distributions, direct mailers, etc. Step 2: Develop your launch timeline Determining the timing of your public launch is another critical step. Look at your calendar and choose a date that gives you enough time to prepare your new website (design, set-up, administration) and your launch communications (flyers, webpages, etc.). Weve seen our customers be successful with 2 weeks to 2 months of preparation. It really just depends on your resources and the momentum you want to put behind the project. Step 3: Cross-promote your new site with major projects! We highly recommend our clients try to coordinate their launch timeline with other major projects and initiatives they already have on their calendar. A good rule of thumb is to leverage 2-3 of these projects or initiatives. What does this mean? Its pretty simple. All you have to do is use the new tools you have available to you (Idea Forums, Discussions, Projects or Surveys) to gather public input on your key projects and initiatives. This will help drive new activity and visibility of your new portal through cross-promotion! For example, the City of Austin used their Comprehensive Air

Quality Program as one of their launch initiatives to get people involved in their new site. They created a Discussion to solicit input from environmental and clean air groups in their community. The discussion received over 130 participants and they were able to get great exposure of their new site. If you want to see a live example, check out their discussion forum here. Step 4: Establish launch ideas When you push your new site to the public, we encourage our clients to have some ideas and activity already loaded. Weve seen a few of our clients successfully establish a focus group to determine 5-10 ideas and topics prior to their launch date. They then have this group test the system and vote-up what they agreed with. This is a great way to soft launch and start generating activity prior to your public launch. Step 4: Determine your call to actions Regardless of where you will be promoting your new site, the goal is always to get people to participate. Spend a few minutes to think about how you want to phrase or message this call to action so its consistent across all your communication channels. Here are some examples of language our clients use to illicit people to click and participate in their new site: Share your thoughts, Tell us your ideas, Join the discussion. You are encouraged to use a few of the template call to action buttons we provide to our customers, please click here to access them. Step 5: Make your portal visible on your homepage The homepage of your website probably has the best real estate for promoting your new site. We always encourage our clients to include a link to their new portal directly on the homepage of their website. Even after you have introduced your new portal, its important that your new feedback tool is easily accessible from your main website in a highly visible way. Before you launch, think through your user experience and develop a website strategy that will make your new portal easy to find whenever your community needs it. Step 5: Increase visibility across your entire website (Feedback Widget) Another handy tool you have at your fingertips to help you promote your new portal is the Feedback Widget. This button can be placed on any webpage. Its a great way to encourage your website visitors to get involved and join the discussions happening on your engagement portal. Check

out how the City of Edina is using the widget on the homepage of their website the button is called SpeakUp and its located along the right side of their homepage. Step 6: Create flyers! Print and electronic. Having online flyers and printed flyers is a great way to consistently promote your new website to your community. Weve seen our customers have great success leaving stacks of flyers at their local library, posting them on phone poles, leaving them at city hall. Additionally, if you create an electronic banner, you should have the image and link to your new portal placed on all major websites run by your agency (social media pages, sub-department websites, etc.). The more visibility the better! Step 5: Media and press relations is key We know you have a group of reporters who cover your agencys news. We like to recommend our clients give reporters early access to the site before your press release hits the wire; this is a great way to get them to write positive things! In our experience, they enjoy being part of the official unveiling of your new community. Click here for release templates and story ideas (web page with some examples)! Step 6: Get the word out with social media Be sure to leverage all your social media sites to spread the word about your new civic engagement portal. Our customers have a lot of success on Facebook and Twitter (in particular). Granicus also has an extensive social media network that we can distribute your news through, simply let us know your launch plans and well help you crosspromote. Step 7: Promote through advertisements Newspaper Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Ads! Buying ads in your major local news publications is a great way to get exposure for your new site. Our customers find that print and online ads are both good options to ensure youre reaching a wide audience. Weve particularly seen some great success with Facebook Ads! Its extremely simple to do and Granicus can even help with your set-up and Ad management during your launch. With Facebook Ads, our clients typically budget $10-$20 per day for 4 weeks when they launch. Google Ads are another option you can consider. Weve seen this be a highly successful tool to drive traffic and visibility. Contact us for more information on Facebook Ads.

Step 8: Create an educational video! Video is a wonderful self-service tool to help inform audiences about your new website. Weve seen our clients create simple how to videos to teach their citizens about using the new website. Weve also seen some great introduction videos from Mayor or Elected Officials; these are a great way to endorse your new site and to show your audience that you are committed to community engagement. Here is a link to an example of one of these videos created by the Metropolitan Council.