Online Research Communities In the Public Sector

“How can Online Research Communities meet the need for immediate insights and deeper knowledge in the public sector?” asks Jacquie Norton, Senior Research Consultant at Sweeney Research and manager of the PTV Community.

Online Research Communities (or ORCs) consist of a broadly representative group of people who are users of a particular brand, product or service and are paid to provide regular feedback on a range of topics via an online platform. The key benefit of well-crafted ORCs is that they have a proven ability to provide value where there is a substantial and ongoing need for research and customer insights. Up until the past few years, ORCs have been the stronghold of the corporate world.

Understandably, government departments and related statutory bodies have shown reluctance to embrace ORCs while the approach and methodologies were still being refined. However, times are changing and government departments are increasingly forced to prioritise marketing efforts in order to compete within a brand-driven world and to maximise engagement with customers, constituents and stakeholders. Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has shown that branded ORCs work extremely well in the social and government arena.

By having their own dynamic ORC they have acquired the flexibility to explore the full spectrum of public transport related issues (of which there are many) and equipped themselves with the insights required to guide policy, planning, communications and strategy. The establishment of the PTV Community has also enabled it’s marketers to ensure that the thirst for knowledge within the organisation is maintained and that all marketing activities – along with other functions of the organisation – are guided by the customer. This is an increasing imperative for all outward facing government departments. I will be joined at the AMI Government Marketing Conference by Sally Harris, Customer Insights Research Coordinator at PTV, where we will talk through both the challenges and the benefits associated with establishing an ORC in the public sector, drawing on specific examples and experiences from the PTV Community.

gmc-blog-sidebar-webHear more from Jacquie Norton at the 2014 Government Marketing & Communications Conference, held August 6-8 at Rydges on Swanston, Carlton, Melbourne.   Click here to register.


The Australian Marketing Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2014 Government Marketing & Communications Conference Sponsors.



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