Responses to resident surveys can be an important source of indicators for a performance management program. They provide managers with quantifiable data to assess progress toward such difficult-to-measure goals as “quality of life” and “citizen engagement.”

To maximize the usefulness of a survey, a city or county needs to make residents aware of it and encourage them to respond. Recognizing this need, the communications team at National Research Center, Inc. (NRC), Angelica Wedell and Erin Dixon, developed a list of suggestions for publicizing a survey to the community.

Write a Press Release

If you are already in the practice of sending out press releases regarding community news, send one out about your survey. A strong press release gives local television stations, radio stations and newspapers a jumping off point to create larger interest in the survey.

Utilize Existing Mailings

Does your community have a monthly or quarterly newsletter? Use that as a vehicle to promote the survey, what its purpose is and where residents can go to ask further questions.

Announce on Local Government Website

Your website may be the first place people go to get information about your community. Make the survey announcement visible and the details easy to find.

Share on Social Media

Many residents follow their city or county on social media and use it as a source of news. Post about the survey: when to expect it and how the results will be used. If you conduct an online opt-in survey, share that link on social media, too.

Promote at Local Events

Do you have a big community event on the horizon (like the county fair or a barbecue festival)? You’ll probably have a booth to engage with residents. Make sure to mention the survey, or even print up a handout for a quick reminder to respond.

Consider Popular Signage

Don’t forget the use of local government signage. This might include banners throughout the community, or billboards along major commuter routes in your area.

Produce a Short Video

Video is a significant form of digital engagement, and having the mayor or city/county manager elaborate on how the survey will help the community could be beneficial for garnering participation.

Collaborate with Your Communications Department

Communications professionals are in tune with how to best share important information with your audiences, so utilize the experts within your organization.

Using a combination of these approaches can help you get a robust survey response that will inform community decision making, help you track the quality of local services, and allow you to measure the success of your programs and initiatives.

A version of this post originally appeared on the NRC website,, accompanied by an “NRC Q&A” video (best viewed using Chrome or Internet Explorer). NRC clients also have access to an additional resource, The Playbook of Strategies, which contains several case studies and in-depth tips on publicizing your survey.


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