Georges River Council was proclaimed on 12 May 2016, bringing together the former Hurstville and Kogarah City Councils. Council was seeking to develop a Digital Communications Strategy which will guide Council’s ongoing online presence on all of its websites and social media channels, ensuring it is presented as an innovative and influential organisation with a commitment to being a positive leader for change.
The objectives of the strategy were to
- guide improvements to communications and service delivery through digital channels
- identify and respond to current and future community expectations with regards digital communications and interactions with the Council
- prescribe the purpose and use of each channel and the relationships between the channels and
- increase engagement with digital communications and uptake of digital transaction opportunities.
AOM took a user-centered design approach, relying on a research-driven, participatory method that involves the stakeholders who will be impacted by the strategy. We conducted the project in 3 phases:
- Immersion - where we created a shared understanding of the scope and purpose of the project and set a clear direction for achieving those things. We also rapidly immersed in the context of the project, captured the organisational knowledge that already exists around key issues and understood gaps that may need to be filled. We established shared project ownership and a detailed understanding of the objectives, challenges, responsibilities, and practices across the entire stakeholder group. A Project Definition Document was the resulting deliverable.
- Research and community consultation - we collaboratively crafted the project approach, and worked with the Georges River community to establish an understanding of the needs and expectations they have of the Council's services and communications. Simultaneously we worked with Council to understand the processes, people, and technology that unpin Council's capabilities and, ultimately, the viability of the recommendations we would make. Research activities included workshops, detailed interviews, desk research, and a survey. The data generated by these activities gave us the insight we needed to move into the final phase of reporting and recommendations.
- Analysis and strategy documentation - where we focused on making sense of the research learnings and providing a set of recommendations across the spectrum of the Council's digital services and communications. These ranged from broad principles, guidelines, and tools down to granular updates to processes and practices. Broader tools were provided to guide future decision making around the Council's customer experience and communications, while more granular recommendations provided a roadmap of immediately actionable outcomes. The resulting strategy covered a range of digital experience domains including websites, online services, campaigns and communications, social media, and tone of voice.
The project provided Council with a detailed Digital Experience Strategy, including sessions exploring presenting the details and exploring the implications of the strategy. The resulting document was enthusiastically received by Council's stakeholders which included the GM, CIO and senior executive responsible for implementing the strategy. Emilie Alford, project lead commented
"The consultants from Art of Multimedia utilised their extensive experience in government communications and knowledge of customer experience to design a comprehensive road map for Georges River Council to implement. By undertaking a thorough analysis of Council's communications and engagement with the community, the consultants provided insight in the expectations of our diverse community highlighting their increasing reliance on digital channels for communications and transactions."
Council implemented the strategy during COVID and Catherine James, one of the team involved in the transformation added
“A key measure of the success of any strategy in an organisation is how easy it is to implement and embed. The Digital Experience and Communications Strategy Roadmap for implementation was a valuable part of the Art of Multimedia package. It had a great combination of quick wins to build confidence and success and some longer-term projects to make the significant shifts in how Georges River Council communicates digitally with our community. The Roadmap assisted in building the collaboration across Council required to make the changes to a better digital experience for the Georges River community. It allowed those internal stakeholders to see what was required and where they could be involved. We would not have been able to make the progress we have made without this strategy.”