Governmental communication has changed greatly over the last decades. And that’s a good thing! Communication often used to be about transferring a message from point A to point B. Nowadays, the different governments – local, regional and federal – have changed a lot in their communication. What did they alter in their approach? Their focus. That shifted and became more customer-centric. Their communication more dynamic and tailormade to the needs of the civilian.
Sending and delivering messages to the citizen can no longer be the central issue in the approach of organizations. Nowadays, communication is much more than that. It is a conversation between the municipality and its citizens. It is multi-way communication, it is dynamic. After all, communication is not something you can put in a box.
Companies and organizations must move away from one-way communication. They would perform better if they’d engaged in offline and online conversations with target groups and stakeholders via all kinds of contact points.Eric Goubin, The New Communication Department
Companies and organizations are beginning to understand more and more that communication is not just a question and an answer. As a government, it is of the utmost importance to have a connection with your target audience. Besides, it’s essential you put your audience at the center. The message is to listen to them. Use their feedback to make your city a better place to live. Moreover, it’s an attitude you need to have in the entire organization. And not just in your communication department.
The antenna model of Sint-Niklaas
The city of Sint-Niklaas perfectly masters this technique. The communication department of the East-Flemish city is organized according to the antenna model. How does that work exactly, you might think? Tine De Schryver, the city’s communication expert, explains it shortly:
The city of Sint-Niklaas has a fairly small central communications department. As a central city with 78,000 inhabitants, we do have many communication tasks, channels and target groups. That’s why we decided to work with communication antennas at the various city departments: contact points for communication. For a part of their work working hours, these employees are responsible for creating news. Furthermore, they create press releases for the website. At other times, they work on texts for the city magazine. In addition, they work on the design of printed media for our template software, the supply of photographic material via our image bank and much more. Besides, they pass on information from the departments to the central communication department. This interaction provides the communication department with additional support in the form of manuals, newsletters, training courses and personal guidance for the communication antennas.
Why an antenna model?
The antenna model of our communication department mainly came to be because we are a small central department. We don’t really have the means nor the manpower to execute all tasks such as revision, photography or layout. However, with our small team, we can still do so much with our communication for so many people. With a number of brand new target group websites, with solid campaigns and with a 360-degree strategy in printed and digital media. After all, our most important task is to provide all citizens with the information they need. And that in the most simple and most accessible way possible.
Another benefit? Our antennas are on the same wavelength as the citizen. Moreover, they know what’s going on and what is important to the citizen. That’s a major advantage to us: it enables us to exchange knowledge about our various target groups more quickly.Tine De Schryver, Communication Expert Sint-Niklaas
The town of Sint-Niklaas shows that efficient communication to more than 78,000 citizens is possible. Even with a small communication team! Tine De Schryver is extremely proud of her team, and rightly so! Thanks to efficient communication, the citizens get to know everything about what is going on in their city. An excellent example of organization and communication if you ask us. In addition, the organization of Sint-Niklaas’ dynamic communication department is also an example for other cities and Flanders. Ready to transform your service into a well-oiled machine?