Federal Decision Makers Crave Connection

Research firm, Market Connections, recently released the 2021 results of their annual Federal Media and Marketing Study. This study looks at how federal buyers and decision makers consume and use media in their professional and personal lives. This insight can be used by contractors and technology companies to inform marketing plans and strategies.


Determining Where Feds Are Physically and Mentally

With respondents being into their second year of teleworking, the results showed two-thirds of federal employees are still primarily working remotely. This report looks at the habits that have stayed consistent from the shift we saw in 2020 and where new preferences are taking shape.

Prior to 2020, the biggest concerns of federal decision makers were consistently related to funding and budgets. Over the last two years, those concerns have taken a backseat to employee morale, workforce retirement, and recruitment. In the study, 53 percent cited employee morale as a major concern while funding and budget was a top concern for only one-third of respondents.

Making a Connection

The isolation of solo commutes (the vast majority of those going into an office are commuting alone in their car), minimal in-office collaboration, and at-home working has made connection more important than ever. Social media use for professional reasons has grown among respondents. While some of this is likely due to accessibility -- now they can access social media sites during the day at home - it may also indicate a desire for connection. Many employees report following their own agency to get updates on what is happening agency-wide. Social media is also allowing people to follow companies to stay up to date on products (in lieu of sales meetings and events).

Experts advise that companies use the inherently personal nature of social media to their advantage. They suggest introducing employees and their stories as part of the social strategy as opposed to using it just to report news or advertise events. The federal workforce is hungry for connection, and the companies that offer it benefit by gaining trust and loyalty.

Who Do You Trust?

Federal trust in contractors and the messages they deliver has continued to decline among the survey respondents year over year. The federal decision makers place high trust in peers and in trade associations. In fact, GS-13 and above report following trade associations on social media to get news and information. For webinars, trade associations are also the most trusted hosts. For technology companies and contractors, forging partnerships with associations and other third parties may prove critical in getting their messages in front of their buying audience.

Building Connection and Trust Through Events

In-person events are slowly becoming more common again. Additionally, the number of in-person events respondents say they plan to attend in 2022 is very close to what they reported in 2019. But, the study found that even with this increase, virtual events are here to stay. This mirrors findings from our own survey.

The Defense industry is the most ready and willing to attend in-person events and most of the large live events we've seen in 2021 have been for this audience. Overall, 41 percent of respondents report their agency still has travel restrictions in place. However, DC-based employees report less travel restrictions than colleagues located outside the beltway.

The big question for events is whether to offer a hybrid option. Respondents were asked, "If an event was offered in-person or online which option would you choose?" 55 percent chose the online option. Similarly, in a survey we conducted in the late summer of 2021 we found that 61 percent would choose online attendance if both were offered. Moving forward, event organizers will have to make a strong case as to why their event is one that people should leave their home office to attend or swap their in-office time for event attendance.

Content and purpose help to determine if the event will best succeed in-person, online or in a hybrid format. Policy-based, discussion events have proven to lend themselves nicely to an online format. More people can attend and get the content online, expanding the audience. Events where a key purpose is demonstrations and sales will draw people away from their screens and to an in-person event. No matter the content, all in-person events will have to provide clear ROI and incentives for people to attend, and that includes speakers.

Without having to travel or commute, and even being able to record sessions in advance, event planners are finding it easier to schedule high level speakers for online events. For example, a recent DefenseOne event secured four of the five Joint Chiefs because of the flexibility offered by an online format.

The full results of the 2021 study are available here.

Have an upcoming event? Whether online, in-person, or hybrid, get a start on publicizing your ROI at GovEvents and reach our 100,000+ members and beyond.

Comments are closed temporarily due to excessive Spam.