3 messaging tips to increase trust in government
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3 messaging tips to increase trust in government

August 29, 2023

Despite recent legislation that has made historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure, environmental resilience and economic development, a nationally representative survey issued late last year by the Partnership found that only 40% of Americans believe the federal government has a positive impact on people like them and only 38% believe the federal government serves their community.  

Agencies have an opportunity to change these perceptions by implementing this new legislation effectively. However, delivering a better customer experience and tangible outcomes is not enough—our government also needs to tell the story of how these sweeping investments positively impact daily life and highlight the people who make sure they do. Indeed, our research on trust in government tells us that spotlighting individual federal employees who serve the public can help bridge the trust gap.  

In our Message for Trust resource, we share eight tips for federal leaders and communicators to build stronger relationships with the public and increase trust in the government and their agencies. Three of these tips are especially relevant to the work agencies are doing to support the recent legislation:  

1. Humanize the federal government by showcasing personal stories about individuals who serve.

Who are the federal employees working to upgrade our nation’s transportation infrastructure, create broadband access and develop greater climate resiliency? In addition to talking about programs or grants, agencies can help show that the federal employees doing this work are the neighbors, friends and family of everyday people, and regular members of the community. 

2. Share the positive experiences people have when they engage with your agency.

As a result of recent legislation, communities across the country are receiving federal funds to tackle local challenges. In addition to highlighting the scale of this funding, agencies should promote its positive impact on individuals and families by identifying personal stories that demonstrate the importance of government programs and services.  

3. Use plain language on your website and in agency communications.

As agencies communicate more about the impact of their work, it is critical to remember that most individuals are not deeply familiar with government or its operations. Think about how to make your communications understandable and accessible to someone with limited or no knowledge of the machinations of our federal system.  

As we know from our annual Service to America Medals® program, countless federal employees work every day to ensure people across our nation are safe and healthy, and have access to clean air and water. To rebuild trust in government, all of us need to do a better job of telling the stories of these public servants.  

Join us for our “2023 Trust Summit: A Government of the People” on Sept. 27 to continue the conversation about rebuilding trust in our government and visit ourpublicservice.org to learn more about the Partnership’s work on this critical issue.