Tips for Perfecting Your Public Sector Marketing Plan 

Stephanie Geiger, Co-Founder and EVP, GMarkU

Each year, hundreds of government contractors rely on Market Connections’ Marketing 4 Public Sector Study (M4PS) to keep on top of ever-evolving public sector marketing trends. This Fall, attendees at GAIN, the premier conference for government marketers, learned valuable insights from Aaron Heffron, the government research firm’s executive vice president, as he presented data from this year’s M4PS results.


In 2022, the study’s 14th year, participants included 1,222 respondents, who held a wide array of job functions across federal and state and local government agencies and more than 200 media outlets were represented. Concerns over employee morale, recruitment, and a general distrust in government contractors arose as key themes. In light of those concerns, Heffron provided a few actionable tips to help government marketers build trust and tailor their marketing efforts to address their audience’s challenges:  


Be a social media lifeboat in rocky seas. Government agencies are highly skeptical of social media platforms, but they appreciate the information that those platforms provide. Taking the time to establish your organization as a credible and reliable source of information is crucial to preventing that skepticism from undermining the success of your social media strategy. One of the biggest culprits of breeding distrust among users is engaging in “clickbait” or the use of sensationalized and often misleading headlines to deceptively encourage them to click on the link to a web page. While it’s important to grab users’ attention with your content, titles that come across as untrustworthy will eventually repel more cautious users and tarnish your reputation. It’s best to rely on creativity and high-quality content to drum up engagement rather than relying on shock value, which only creates short-term success. One additional way to act as a “lifeboat” in the rocky social media sea is to make sure your content is tailored to your specific audience. Whether federal or state and local government, each agency or organization has its own unique challenges. Taking the time to learn who is engaging with your content and tailoring it to their specific needs will pay off in the long run. 


Podcasts have evolved and should not be overlooked. Podcasts have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and they are the perfect way to reach a distracted and busy audience. In 2022, many government employees have returned to work in the office, which means they are commuting once again and taking podcasts along for the drive. Producing your own podcast or finding one you can “wrap yourself around” as Heffron says, either as a sponsor or guest speaker, is an excellent way to reach the public sector audience. If you choose to start a podcast of your own, a few helpful tips to get started include:


  • Focus your content on very specific subject matter. Podcasts addressing a broad range of topics don’t typically show up in search results but those about very specific topics such as IT modernization, cybersecurity, or the cloud are much more likely to show up on a listener’s suggestions page.
  • Keep a pulse on current events and recent news stories and center your content around them when possible, while also keeping an eye on future trends.
  • The general structure of a successful podcast episode should entail letting the audience know what you’re about to tell them, telling them, and then recapping what you shared in 15 minutes or less. 


Embrace networking opportunities. After nearly three years of forced separation, people are craving in-person connection once again. While it’s still important to provide quality information during events, it’s perfectly fine to lean into that desire for networking opportunities and to use that as the “hook” to attract attendees in 2023. With that said, it’s also important to continue embracing hybrid events and to keep online options available to individuals who aren’t comfortable traveling due to economic or health concerns. 


These tips only begin to scratch the surface of the invaluable data included in the full M4PS study. To help hone and perfect your marketing campaigns to the public sector, visit the Market Connections site and purchase the full report. You’ll learn more about which social media sites government employees trust most, news outlets they visit most frequently, what time of day they typically visit those sites, and so much more.