Streamline Blog

What's a billboard got to do with it?

Posted by Sloane Dell'Orto | October 28, 2019

I know, I know … the majority of special districts aren’t spending money on billboard advertising. So why am I writing about billboards?

Our online attention span is now hovering around 6 to 8 seconds, and that just happens to be the amount of time a driver has to process the information on a billboard while driving down the freeway. People have been studying the effectiveness of billboard advertising for much longer than the internet has been around - so if you’re trying to get the attention your district deserves, these takeaways can be really helpful.

[This is the second in a series of posts on how to get the attention your district deserves. See the first post here.]

1. Grab their attention. 
Your most important task is to get their attention in the first place. You can do this by writing a subject line that creates curiosity, by using an eye-catching image, or both:


 (If you’re using images on your website, remember to include alt-text for accessibility.)

2. Know your intent.
Once you’ve got their attention, what do you hope they will do after they’ve read what you’re publishing? Maybe you want them to take an action (create defensible space around their homes, dispose of standing water to help combat mosquitoes, visit your park, attend a class)? Or maybe you're trying to educate the public about the important work you do in advance of a bond issue or rate increase? Make sure you know the "why" of everything you publish.

3. Keep it brief.
Most people - myself included - use a lot of words when a few would do. If people aren’t going to invest a lot of time reading online, one of the best things you can do is edit multiple times, and remove superfluous words. (Like the word superfluous!)

Looking for ideas on how to get the word out to your constituents? Need resources that will help you write great subject lines?

Let's grab 15 minutes to chat!

Fun fact: the first known billboard appeared more than 3,000 years ago.

In 3000 BC an obelisk was set up in Thebes, Egypt, advertising a reward for the return of a runaway slave named Shem. Readers were encouraged to bring information about Shem, or Shem himself, to the store ... which contained the “most beautiful fabrics woven.” (Not sure what happened to poor Shem, but way to get two advertisements for the price of one.)

In the next post we’ll be talking about how people consume information online, which is very different from how we read books or other printed material. Stay tuned!


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