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Communication Loops

Economic Development communications programs require not only a focus on investment attraction, but also on stakeholder communications. To visualize the process, think of your Economic Development Organization as the central point in a figure 8.

On one side you need to communicate with your internal stakeholders, the funding organizations and the political, administrative, community and business leaders who need to understand the activities of your organization. On the other side you need to communicate with prospects, attract investment and generate leads.

In both cases, communications go out and, due to the nature of the Internet and two-way communications channels, statistics and feedback come back in to your department. The figure 8 represents the feedback loops. Using web statistics, you can measure how well each loop is performing and disseminate relevant information to the opposite loop.

External Feedback Loop

The primary function of an investment-attraction website is to attract leads by means of interactive communications.

As noted in an earlier article in the Tech Trends series, “Tips and Tactics for Measuring Results,” (March 24, 2009), an important best practice in investment attraction is to analyze stats to determine what works for your community and what doesn’t.

Key performance indicators should be established to help you measure the return on investment of your website and of your marketing tactics.

  • How many people come to your investment attraction website on a daily basis?
  • How many pages do they go to on their visit?
  • What are the most popular pages?
  • What search terms did they use to find you?
  • How many of them fill out forms to ask for more information?
  • If you send out an e-mail blast or a news release or participate in social media, what impact does that have on your website traffic?

Real time web statistics tools provide this information. But it’s up to you to make it a priority to look at them and make decisions based on the results that you are getting.

By analyzing such data you can track how well the website is performing as a lead-generation medium – and then provide relevant statistics back to your internal stakeholders through the second communications loop!

Internal Feedback Loop

Your department must have buy-in from leaders of your municipality and community for the brand you have adopted, and the strategies and tactics you are using to attract investors and site selectors. Buy-in is rooted in relationship management, and that means communication. Your stakeholders need to be advised of progress, consulted and heard. Many economic development campaigns fail because they don’t maintain the backing of public leaders.

In turn, local information should be gathered from these groups in the form of surveys, collection of local information, news or announcements. Your website can be used to gather this information by inviting stakeholders to share their successes with you.

Their successes and their announcements can then be used to strengthen your external communications: use this information and put it back out on your investment attraction website!

All of this can be accomplished by positioning your investment attraction website as the centre of two related information loops, and using statistics as the litmus test for testing the success of initiatives in which everyone has a share.

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