2020 Public Sector Marketing Trends | The 7 Deadly Sins of Poor Leadership

PSMP 2020 Trends Blog

We’ve turned a corner into a new decade and with that public sector marketing pros have no choice but to elevate the standards of digital communications in their government agencies.

Having conversations about ‘if we should finally launch X social network or what’s the ethics around data capture?’ feels so 90s and reeks of rudderless leadership.

The digital revolution has already set many agencies adrift amidst their procrastination and paralysis of progress.

Can you sense my frustration? Good. Because it’s very real.

You may have heard (or read) me say this before:


“The pendulum of power has swung into the hands of citizens because of the explosion of smartphones, social media use and the availability of free WiFi. The former power brokers of church, state and corporate no longer dictate the narrative.

“They now realise they must focus their attention more than ever before on what citizens say. In reality this should have always been the approach, but with power comes ego-centric and self-serving culture and goals. Old cultures are being challenged and grassroots is having a rebellion.”


Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’d like to share with you my predictions for how government and public sector will (must) pivot in 2020 specifically relating to digital marketing and social media.

Do you have your own ideas, opinions or case studies? Please share them with me.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”@jstweetsdigital’s predictions for how government and public sector will (must) pivot in 2020 specifically relating to digital marketing and social media #publicsectormarketing #socialmediatrends” quote=”@jstweetsdigital’s predictions for how government and public sector will (must) pivot in 2020 specifically relating to digital marketing and social media #publicsector #leadership #trends”]

2020 Trends for Transformation

#1 Are you listening?

The art of listening and hearing what citizens are saying will become a central focus as 4G and 5G connectivity drives further smartphone and social media use.

Social listening combines machine-learning technology with API access to social networks and the open web. Tracking conversations and sentiment around key issues such as vaccinations, political leaders or climate action should be one key pillar for every digital strategy.

The results in real-time and /or historically (e.g. quarterly look-back) should also influence policy and commentary.

#2 Can you do the job?

The sophistication of digital marketing in government is often sadly lack lustre and under-whelming.

Honestly, there can be no excuse in 2020 for not having a savvy, sharp and strategic team of digital executioners.

Out-sourcing is not your solution, it’s only part of the solution. Finally, investing in digital-first capacity in your organisation will separate the leaders from the followers. But don’t we look to government for leadership?

#3 What is your data telling you?

With GDPR well embedded into government bodies across Europe since mid-2018, the fear of breaching data laws should have subsided by now. Did you know data has replaced oil as a more lucrative industry?

So much so, big data has proven to be the 21st century game-changer for innovation and improvement.

So how are, and should, governments be embracing and leveraging data? In my opinion it’s the second key pillar required to make strategic decisions and become more relevant to a discerning and informed public.

Collecting and using data ethically and transparently goes without saying, but data for good will be where real breakthroughs in citizen-centric communications initiatives are made.

#4 Step up or shut up

I’ve long held the view that government agencies are contributors to the problem of fake news. Their failure to answer questions posed by Jo Public about government, public sector and legislative matters has left an information vacuum online.

This coveted space is then taken up by mostly bad actors, interest groups, disgruntled citizens or media outlets. Is it any wonder trust in government is a perennial problem?

Don’t get me started on millennials and how they are engaging with issues that affect them. It’s certainly not from a government department.

I do not see why the brown jacket, grey hair, no comment era of the 80s attitude can still linger in some government quarters? So it’s time to step up to content marketing with a sense of responsibility and respect to the digital world we now live in.

#5 So why do you do it that way?

Archaic work practices and repeated manual task delivery are as relevant today as the butter mountains of 80s Ireland. (For international readers or noughties kids, here’s the context).

The way we deliver communications has changed dramatically. I’m fact, communicating is everyone’s business and scaling digital communications right throughout your organisation is key.

The central communications department model is crippling government and public sector agencies. The layering of social media and digital marketing tasks on existing staff, with no re-organisation, strategic thinking, training, investment or big vision has actually rendered many comms teams ineffective. This is a serious issue that must be resolved this year.

#6 How much will it cost?

Quite simply the cost of band-aiding broken communications departments and/or out-sourcing digital because of capacity and skills challenges will cost you hundreds of thousands of badly invested taxpayers money.

The question you really should be asking as a senior leader is “what will it cost us (public trust, fake news, poor citizen engagement, out-dated processes and systems) if we don’t invest?

#7 What’s our omni-channel conversion goals?

Public interest messaging has a range of goals such as citizen engagement, public trust, government transparency, public health, promoting democracy and crime prevention, to name a few.

But how do we know if we are converting clicks and likes into changed attitudes and behaviours? Well, by identifying digital conversions or signals that demonstrate same. This will be the year that public sector marketing pros will measure and master omni-channel behaviour. 🙏

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The 7 Deadly Sins of Poor Leadership – @jstweetsdigital | #publicsector #leadership #trends” quote=”The 7 Deadly Sins of Poor Leadership – @jstweetsdigital | #publicsector #leadership #trends”]

The gospel according to Joanne – AMEN

As a career communications professional who’s worked in all media for two decades, and been the quasi judge and jury of government both as a former journalist and a citizen, I believe it’s time to up the ante, improve the output, empower your staff and demonstrate real digital leadership before another year passes and we are having the same conversations in 2021.

Are you ready to lead?

My book Public Sector Marketing Pro was named in the Best New PR Book of 2020 list by Book Authority and hailed as “the manual he needed when in the White House” by Tom Cochran, Barack Obama’s former Chief Digital Advisor. The book is available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Find out more about my work at

Share On:

Top Categories

The State of Social Media in the Public Sector

Subscribe to Our Weekly Podcast.

Dedicated to digital marketing and social media insights for government and public sector professionals.

Got a burning social media or digital marketing question?

Leave a voice message and Joanne will answer it on the podcast!

Related Articles

Ep 99 PSM Show - Thumbnail + Blog Template
TikTok Trends for 2024
AI Communications Use Policy for Public Sector
Social Media SEO
How to Communicate Sustainable
Public Sector Marketing Trends 2024
Our Year in Review
The Christmas Special
A Masterclass in Mobile Video Strategy
7 Content Marketing Tools
Does Public Trust Matter
The Power of Fact-Checking
Mastering Communications
How To Tell A Compelling Story
Scroll to Top

Subscribe Today!

Subscribe for free content from our blog, podcast and YouTube channel as well as news and views on all things public sector marketing.