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Three Tips for Effective Web Communication

As a communications tool for economic development, the web can’t be viewed as just another information channel. You can’t equate it with one-way channels such as brochures or radio broadcasts. While these still have their roles in attracting investment to your community, to really take advantage of the internet, it’s critical to begin to move away from the old information delivery paradigm and learn to embrace interactive communications.

Fully effective web communication goes beyond information presentation to the engagement of communities. In fact, the primary economic development function of your website today is to be the “first sales person” – to foster relationships.

The focus is shifting toward raising awareness of the uniqueness of each community and its ability to retain and attract talented people who will contribute to creating more economic opportunities. Your website is central to what we called Economic Development 2.0 – it enables economic developers to join, and build, communities of interest that help draw attention to their communities.

Here are three tips for effective web communications:

1. Let Many Voices Be Heard

Traditional marketing materials are written in an anonymous style. The web can be written to be more personal. It’s a medium that lends itself to encouraging participation by people and businesses from your community through blogs, podcasts, videos and social media. This promotes a strong sense of community that is important to the creative people who build and locate modern companies.

Similarly, it’s now possible to give voices and identities to your economic development staff. Incorporating web technologies that facilitate content creation – lots of it – by various subject-matter experts makes it easy to publish frequently, keep your website alive and thereby form new relationships online. Encouraging blogs and participation on social media websites gives site selectors the opportunity to become familiar with your staff before they ever call.

2. People Like Pictures

Increasingly, the internet is becoming a visual delivery platform, including graphics, maps, charts, photos and video. Mere cell-phone photos or video clips published on the web can turn obscure people into worldwide celebrities in a matter of hours. Just look at sites such as Flickr and YouTube and you can see that images are becoming more important in promoting brands and marketing impressions all the time.

Economic developers can embrace these trends by increasing the visual appeal of the website and adding visual elements to all communications. In turn, viewers will become more engaged with the community. Incorporation of interactive features such as drill-down maps, cost calculators, land and space databases, polls and surveys using charts and graphs further encourage visitor participation.

3. Write for the Search Engines

When writing content, it’s important to consider how people will be looking for you, specifically, what keywords they may type into the search engine. Effective use of these keywords spread liberally throughout your website, in your menus and topic headings will make increase the likelihood of the search engine displaying your website when someone searches for these keywords. Since almost 90 per cent of site selection searches begin on the web, it’s worthwhile to take a little bit of time to understand the basics of search-engine marketing as a fundamental way to draw site selectors to your investment-attraction website.

In summary, some tips for effective web communication are interactive methods you can use to attract, engage and build relationships in the site-selector community.

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