Instead of thinking about ink and paper, Los Angeles County has decided to go digital and is planning for pixels and megabytes. This year, the County’s Executive Office is issuing the annual report electronically, hoping that they can reach more of the County’s population.
“In past years we only had a paper report and printed just a few thousand copies,” wrote David Sommers in an email to Public CEO. Sommers is the Acting Director of Public Affairs for the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office. “That’s a fraction of the copies needed for a potential audience of 10 million County residents, or even our own 90,000 employees.”
Distribution will be driven not only by the County’s efforts to disseminate the information, but also by harnessing the power of social media. Each section of the report can be “Liked” on Facebook, Tweeted on Twitter, added to a circle on Google Plus, or emailed to a friend.
Additionally, the new format allows the report to be more of a conversation, instead of the traditional one-way communication. Emails can be sent to the County, and extensive contact information for every department provides a pathway for residents to communicate.
“We’re obviously very proud of this product as an efficient best practice and a way for us to share information with a large audience,” wrote Sommers. “(It) also allow(s) our residents to communicate and engage back with County departments in many different ways.”
In addition to reaching out to a greater audience, the County was able to save money in the process. According to the County, developing the electronic version of the report was 25 percent cheaper than printing 7,500 copies of the Annual Report last year.
“There’s been tremendous support by our Board of Supervisors for this 180-degree shift in how the County communicates the big picture,” said Sommers. “The Board has already made a major shift into proactive online outreach and we’re following their lead.”
The decision to make the electronic switch was easy after last year. Even though the County distributed 7,500 paper copies, more than 16,000 people downloaded the annual report from the County website. Without any publicity or advertising, more than two times as many people chose to read the report electronically.
The new electronic format has been under development for just under a year. Depending upon how it is received, the County will likely make improvements next year not only to how the website looks and functions, but how the information is presented. It is hoped that by analyzing what sections are used most, the County can then provide greater details on the issues that matter most to residents and staff.
The new annual report was released to the public Thursday morning. It can be found at http://www.lacountyannualreport.com/