Three Tips for Communicating About Broadband With Residents

By Brittany-Rae Gregory

There are well-documented obstacles to broadband access and adoption, with digital literacy being a major barrier for many people of all ages and backgrounds to overcome. Local communication strategies play a role in helping residents understand why broadband matters in their daily lives, how they can play a part in the resident advocacy process, and what resources are available to help them fully access and benefit from a digital society. 

Several NCC municipalities have communications campaigns and practices that deserve recognition. They could serve as models for communications efforts in your own community and are periodically featured in our newsletter. 

Successful campaigns tap into multiple communications channels to reach residents at every level. In Oakland, California, two campaigns have been particularly instrumental in helping residents access the networks and devices that they need. There are three key takeaways from the OAK WiFi and Oakland Undivided campaigns.

What has helped strengthen these ongoing campaigns on the communications front? 

Develop Creative Ways to use Traditional Media | OakWifi helped spread the word about the city-wide launch of the public WiFi network by using traditional methods such as billboards, signage on buses and bus stops, and murals. Using these age-old methods undoubtedly helped to reach residents who might not regularly use and/or have access to electronic media and social media platforms.

Use a Virtual Landing Page 

  •  Whether that is through a website, a web page on your website, or a dedicated social media platform, having one place where people can access basic information and regular programmatic updates is helpful, especially for long-term campaigns and communications. This is especially important for initiatives that are the result of partnerships with various organizations. 
  • Oakland’s #OaklandUndivided web page is a great example of a centralized location for information about the partnership between Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Office of Education, Oakland Promise, Oakland Public Education Fund, Oakland Unified School District, and Tech Exchange.

Designate a Hashtag | The use of the #OaklandUndivided hashtag on the website, in media releases, and in articles builds in searchability. Readers who are familiar with social media networks know that by using the hashtag, they can pull up information about the initiative and real-time experiences of people involved with and impacted by the work.

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