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Understanding the key needs of citizens when communicating government changes

Communicating with citizens in a way that resonates

The challenge

A NSW Government department engaged CEC after recognising the need to improve the way messaging is framed to citizens when communicating changes from government.

Over five weeks, we used research and testing to understand what citizens value, what information they need, and how the government should frame citizen facing messages. Consulting citizens in this process would give the client confidence and demonstrate they are taking into account citizen needs and concerns.

The situation

The approach

The research

The client’s main need was to validate messaging that had been crafted to send to citizens in the lead up to any changes. This was to ensure it resonates and is framed for a positive response.

We conducted one-on-one research into the communication needs of citizens, producing insights to inform future communications. We sought to understand how citizens seek and digest information on a day to day basis, and who they trust when it comes to receiving information.

The findings

CEC conducted two rounds of testing. The first was to validate and improve upon the original messaging, as well as to broadly understand citizen needs and perceptions of government. We invited staff to attend our sessions with citizens so they could hear their feedback first hand. This was a pivotal moment for the client, as they realised the importance of taking into account citizens needs and circumstances when communicating. From this, we revised the messaging and conducted a second round of testing to ensure it was something citizens would resonate with.

We were able to create mental models which reflected how citizens perceive the government, e.g. whether or not they believe the government is doing a good job, and what shapes these perceptions.

The solution

Our engagement lead to the development of a communications framework to be used by the client as a guide when communicating to citizens. The framework consists of recommendations around the areas of framing, content and tone. We also handed over a timeline consisting of key moments for the government to communicate changes with citizens, and highlighting the importance of ongoing communications to help develop trust with citizens.

The impact

NSW Government department
Our recommendations are being used as a framework when communicating changes to citizens now and for future messaging.

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