Do you speak government?

Do you speak government?

By Joshua DeLung

Here at ENC, we serve government. But did you know we also work with several non-governmental organizations and commercial technology clients to help those companies reach the public sector? Often, even when people are really great at communicating strategically, they might not know the intricacies of the beltway market and selling to government.

Because many of our employees have worked inside government agencies (while others have lived and breathed government marketing for decades), ENC is uniquely situated to help companies sort through the FERCs, SBAs, USDAs, DoEs and Snoop D-O-double Gs (OK, admittedly, that last one might be part of a rap song). Would you know the difference between a BDU and an ACU? (Hint: the featured image for this post features the latest multicam version of the latter.) Maybe you’ve heard of an M1, but would you know it from an M60? Do you know how many MWh annually it takes to power your town? What’s a nacelle? Are you on IPv6? Need help sorting your DARPAs from your ARPA-Es? Is that website 508-compliant? These are all examples of things the communicators here at ENC know because we write, design and speak on behalf of clients who want to talk to the government, in its own language, all the time.

Part of being a good communicator is bridging the legitimacy gap with your audience. If you send a brochure or a blog post to an Army prospect with outdated images (like soldiers wearing old uniforms that have been phased out or men driving a Cold War-era Russian tank), they just might not see you as a trustworthy partner. If it seems you don’t know your customer and what images or language might be relevant, those potential customers might question your ability to actually do the work you’re proposing. That’s a blow to your fundamental credibility, not just your image. Not the best way to win (or retain) business.

Details matter. That’s where a strategic partner like ENC comes in. We know public sector communications, and we can help you succeed in an area where others often aren’t willing to do more than throw their usual messaging against a government agency’s walls and hope it sticks.

But this isn’t all sales pitch. This is free advice: Be sure if you’re communicating to the government that you know how to do it on government terms, not necessarily with the language you’d use to sell to your commercial customers. The Department of State doesn’t need an iPad for the same reason a teenager who loves Angry Birds wants one (although even I love Angry Birds). Know your target audience, or enlist some help that does.

Reaching the government is never easy.  But once you win those valuable moments, you want to be equipped with the clearest, most compelling and relevant explanation of the value you deliver.

One reason we enjoy helping clients reach government audiences is because we know they are likely to deliver a product or service that contributes to government achieving its mission. “It really matters,” as we wrote about one government agency.

Not only do we help clients communicate with the government, but also some federal agencies are on our client list. We believe in the work our agency clients are doing, and we strive to help them efficiently stretch taxpayer dollars (hey, we’re taxpayers too) by strategically implementing programs in the best ways possible. In the 21st century, that often means making information more transparent and accessible to the public. That’s why we use our knowledge to help agencies communicate better about their projects and to streamline websites and other tools that enable citizens to join the conversation.

By working together, we can all more clearly, efficiently and effectively communicate to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Sometimes, it just takes a little interpreting.

Featured image courtesy of the Army’s Flickr account.

About Joshua DeLung

Senior Director of Communication Services, specializes in strategy, public relations, writing/editing and social media.

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