New Survey Exposes Lack of Trust in Local Government Communications

A new survey commissioned by Rave Mobile Safety and conducted by the independent research firm ResearchScape has exposed a lack of public trust in local government communications, with only 22% of respondents saying they completely trust the information they receive from local officials.

The objective of the survey was to better understand some of the communication challenges facing state and local agencies with regards to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and managing safety in public places once communities start reopening. To establish what challenges exist, researchers asked more than 1,000 adults across the U.S. how they perceived local government communications in these areas.

Pandemic-related communications can be a contentious topic because of the misinformation that circulated when the pandemic first started. Therefore, it is not surprising that only 31% of respondents to our survey said they completely trust local government communications about the pandemic, and that only 37% of respondents said they were completely or very confident in their state´s ability to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations.

With regards to managing safety in public places once communities start reopening, 75% of respondents expressed concerns about acts of violence. Respondents also had concerns about student safety and acts of violence in K-12 schools and on college and university campuses. As students return to classrooms on a more regular basis in 2021, there will likely be a renewed focus on efforts to protect students, teachers, and staff in educational settings.

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How Local Governments Can Regain the Trust of Communities

The responses to two of the questions in our survey demonstrate how easy it could be for local governments to regain the trust of communities. In the first, we asked: “How do you receive information from your local officials like a mayor, governor, and/or public health department?” The responses were (multiple answers allowed):

  • 64% local media (newspapers and/or broadcast TV)
  • 42% social media
  • 25% word of mouth
  • 22% physical mail
  • 17% opted-in text alerts
  • 12% don´t receive information
  • 9% opted-in phone calls

Considering research has shown it can take six times longer for true news stories to reach people than fake news stories, and that news can be misinterpreted when communicated by word of mouth, this helps explain why there is a lack of trust in local government communications. Therefore, in the second of the two questions we asked: “Would any of the following increase your level of trust in the information you receive from local officials?” The responses were (multiple responses allowed):

  • 50% receiving information directly from officials rather than through local media, social media, or word of mouth
  • 34% receiving information in a way I choose (text, phone call, email, etc.)
  • 27% receiving tailored updates based on my unique needs and location
  • 13% I do not trust information provided by local officials and nothing would increase my trust
  • 8% I already completely trust in the information provided by local officials

The takeaway from these two questions is that, although the majority of our respondents acquired their information from public sources, the public would be more confident in local government communications if they originated from a single dedicated source and were distributed via a range of channels to suit all demographics of the community. In many ways this makes sense and the payback in terms of enhanced public safety could be substantial.

One of the most cost-effective ways to regain the trust of communities is to take advantage of a mass notification platform such as Rave Alert that can communicate critical information about vaccines and public safety via a wide range of communication channels. Once the public opts in to receive communications via the Rave Alert platform, they can then choose which type of alerts they would like to receive and how they would like to receive them.

[CASE STUDY]: How Five Communities Use Rave Alert When it Matters Most

The implementation of a mass notification platform also gives public health agencies the opportunity to encourage individuals to register for the Smart911 service – a service that enables residents to provide background information about themselves that is accessible to first responders in an emergency. It was noticeable that over 75% of survey respondents are very or somewhat willing to share information about themselves and their families if it results in a better emergency response.

To find out more about how Rave Alert can help address the communication trust issue, and about the Smart911 service, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer any questions you have about the capabilities of Rave Alert and can organize a demo of the platform in action.

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Terri Mock
Terri Mock

Terri Mock is Rave's Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, overseeing strategy, product, and marketing. She is an executive leader with achievements in delivering revenue growth, driving go-to-market, innovating products, and scaling operations from high-tech startups to global companies.

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