Communications serving the public good.
Placer County creates and delivers creative campaign across channels using Adobe Creative Cloud to help businesses reopen responsibly during COVID-19.
Communicate with constituents about reopening the county’s economy safely and responsibly during COVID-19
Increase the reach and impact of county communications on residents and businesses
Create a recognizable look and feel for communications about reopening Placer County
Achieved a 46% open rate for digital newsletter, with overall open rates up 5%
Expanded audience reach, with nearly 200,000 hits on the Reopen Placer website in less than two months
Trimmed illustration time by 90% by using Adobe Stock vector graphics
Shared assets 200% faster with staff who don't share the same network drive using Creative Cloud libraries
“When our timeline is hours and not days, Adobe Stock has proven to be an invaluable resource, providing a wide range of specific, contemporary visual assets to accompany branded materials.”
Document Solutions Manager, Placer County Executive Office
Responsive government is good government
Stretching from the Sacramento Valley to Lake Tahoe in Northern California, Placer County is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. With stunning scenery, plenty of outdoor recreation, and a strong economy, it’s easy to see why more than 408,000 residents call it their home. The Placer County Government aims to keep it that way — by delivering efficient, responsive public services that help people stay safe, healthy, and prosperous.
Communicating to the public is an important part of that mission. While some departments handle their own communications, much of the county’s communication channels through the Placer County Executive Office.
“Our goal is to make government more accessible,” says Mirinda Glick, Document Solutions Manager at the Placer County Executive Office. “Residents don’t always know what services county government provides, so effective communication is essential for educating residents on the value they get for their tax dollars.”
Glick heads up the in-house print shop, which designs and prints everything from brochures, posters, and mailings to forms and property tax bills. She often works with Darren Huppert, Digital Communications Specialist in the Communications division of the County Executive Office, to create coordinated campaigns across print and digital. In his work on digital communications, including the website, social media, and email, Huppert is intent on starting dialogues with the public, not just broadcasting information.
“I want to make digital content that gets residents interested and excited in what Placer County has to offer,” he says. “It’s important to use plain language instead of government-speak, so people can easily understand what’s happening.”
Together with their teams, Glick and Huppert have gone a long way toward making Placer County more accessible and responsive to residents — and they use Adobe Creative Cloud for virtually everything they design, along with Adobe Stock to source visual assets and Adobe Spark for social media.
“I’ve been coaching our content producers to use Adobe Spark – it’s a great way to increase social media engagement for a topic. You don’t have to be a designer or videographer to put together a short video with graphics or a cool animation.”
Digital Communications Specialist, Placer County Executive Office
A communications team steeped in Adobe Creative Cloud
The communications staff at Placer County have long used Adobe Creative Cloud, supporting roughly two dozen users across the county with a consolidated enterprise license. The apps are integral to the team’s daily rhythms and have enabled them to steer the county toward a more engaging, approachable look and feel.
Glick remembers when Placer County finally decided to create a distinct visual identity, looking to play a more visible role in its communities. The design team used Adobe Illustrator to design the new brand and create a logo, replacing the official county seal on everything from marketing collateral to maintenance trucks.
“When people see a vehicle drive by with a clear, legible logo, they understand instantly that it’s their county dollars at work — fixing roads, providing health and human services, or supplying other assistance in the community,” says Glick.
The new brand redefined the county’s digital experiences as well, and Huppert has worked hard to bring the engaging, approachable vibe to the website and social media channels. Further, the Communications team uses Adobe Audition for podcasts and Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects to produce videos on topics that have a direct impact on communities. For example, Placer County created a series of explainer videos to simplify complex issues, such as how it delivers fire services and its unique, single-stream approach to recycling.
Recently, Huppert has been particularly excited about Adobe Spark. “I’ve been coaching our content producers to use Adobe Spark — it’s a great way to increase social media engagement for a topic,” he says. “You don’t have to be a designer or videographer to put together a short video with graphics or a cool animation.”
Together, the teams benefit from shared assets in Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries. For example, Glick can easily create color swatches from the visual identity for Huppert to use on the website. As they’re designing new collateral, teams can send proofs back and forth for review and export files with watermarks, so nothing goes out without official approval. The central libraries also make it easy for staff to upload new photos from the field, syncing to team member’s laptops automatically. That makes for faster, smoother production processes as communications get developed and pushed out.
“For staff who don’t share the same network drive, using Creative Cloud Libraries saves approximately two-thirds of the time compared to sharing files by logging in, uploading to the cloud, sending the notification, accessing and downloading the asset, and saving it locally,” says Glick. “The native ‘drag and go’ method and version management features within Creative Cloud Libraries are no-brainers.”
In addition to the library of beautiful Placer County images captured by the staff photographer the brand also uses icons and vector drawings to support its digital and print media. While the county’s talented communications professionals create high-quality, branded photos and artwork, at times they need to access stock images or artwork to supplement in-house resources.
“When our timeline is hours and not days, Adobe Stock has proven to be an invaluable resource, providing a wide range of specific, contemporary visual assets to accompany branded materials,” says Glick. “In a matter of minutes, staff can review, sample, and select artwork, allowing us to publish high-quality work under tight deadlines.”
“One hand drawn icon can take an hour or more to conceptualize, sketch, and refine. Adobe Stock collections provide clean, high-quality files that are easy to modify. Utilizing Adobe Stock assets easily trims our illustration time by 90% or more.”
Document Solutions Manager, Placer County Executive Office
Placer County provides valuable information for local businesses
Glick and Huppert have spent years making government communications more engaging with creativity and design. The COVID-19 pandemic put all that hard work to the test. After an early shelter-in-place order, Placer County was one of the first counties to be approved by the state for a careful, phased reopening. Glick was chosen to lead the marketing effort.
“Many businesses were eager to open. We had to make sure they did it responsibly,” says Glick. “Our task was to make the guidance very clear and translate sometimes confusing government documents into plain language. As always, Adobe Creative Cloud apps were essential to the design process.”
Getting the right look and feel for the Reopen Placer campaign was crucial. Communications would have to be easy to read and visually appealing — or as Glick says, “beautiful enough to hang in a building.” Glick leaned on Adobe Illustrator to design a logo based on the existing Placer County branding and expanded the color palette, creating a larger visual vocabulary to work with as the state rolled out the plan, stage by stage.
The print shop worked with city officials, chambers of commerce, and the county’s public health team to create a business toolkit. Using Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator the team created industry-specific checklists, best practice guides, a supply and services directory, yard signs, rack cards, and printable posters providing details about face coverings, physical distancing, and other requirements businesses have to meet to reopen responsibly. The team was happy to see businesses across the county using the Reopen Placer collateral to keep their customers and employees informed.
“More than 500 yard signs and 5,000 rack cards were distributed with the help of our cities, chambers of commerce, and county staff,” says Glick. “Local cities and chambers of commerce also used the graphics in their own communications and a few even donated digital billboard placements to further increase our reach.”
Throughout the process, staff relied on Creative Cloud Libraries to help maintain their productivity. “Like many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic required us to shift our operations,” says Glick. “With many of us working from home for the first time and partnering with team members outside of our standard workgroups, we needed a quick, efficient way to share design resources. Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries provided a seamless system. Our designer could drag assets into the shared library making them immediately available for others to access. Rather than uploading, downloading, and managing separate file systems, Creative Cloud Libraries was an easy way to make sure all of the assets were current and approved for use.”
Data-driven and focused on what the public needs
There was a lot riding on the Reopen Placer campaign. Done well, the communications would help businesses return to operations safely, allow people to gradually resume their normal routines, and drive economic recovery. Done poorly, the reopening could put lives at risk and lead to further restrictions. To make sure their communications were meeting the needs of Placer County residents, Glick and Huppert kept a close watch on the public reaction.
“We looked at the metrics every day and paid attention to the concerns and questions people had on social media, and then shifted our approach accordingly,” says Huppert. “That’s how I found out business owners wanted clearer guidance; they just wanted to know if they could reopen.”
Seeing an urgent need to provide personalized answers to business owners, Huppert sprang into action. Using Adobe Dreamweaver, he built a “Can I open?” tool for the website — in just a day and a half. By simply typing in the kind of business they run, people can get a clear answer on whether they are authorized to reopen and what restrictions apply. Within a week, the tool became the second-most visited page on the Placer County domain.
Thanks to the continuing efforts to make communications relevant and engaging to the community, the Reopen Placer campaign became a trusted source of information.
“Businesses knew they could get accurate, up-to-date information from us,” says Huppert. “We saw a 46% email open rate for our digital newsletter, which is phenomenal considering the industry average open rate is around 20% and there was a huge jump in newsletter subscribers — enabling us to reach people we wouldn’t otherwise have reached.”
Results across other digital channels were equally impressive. Over a six-week period, Placer's Facebook and Twitter followers grew by more than 10%, Facebook reach increased by more than 58%, and the teams saw nearly 200,000 hits on the Reopen Placer website in less than two months.
Reopen Placer becomes a template for success
One side effect of all the visibility and engagement during COVID-19 is a rising awareness of the county’s existing services. For example, the Placer County Business Resource Center has seen an explosion of growth as businesses owners realized they could take advantage of free or low-cost advice on permitting, regulations, and more. For Glick and Huppert, that meant the approach they took with Reopen Placer was valuable – and repeatable.
“Reopen Placer showed us what’s possible when we invest in resources to help our communities,” says Glick. “Now we want to capitalize on the progress we’ve made, modeling future campaigns on this formula and creating engaging content that keeps people coming back.”
Placer County has already made a huge investment in its business community to reenergize the economy. When the county received federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it earmarked 35% of it — over $14 million — for grants to help businesses and non-profits recover.
Again, the communications teams were called on to do the outreach. Again, they delivered an effective campaign, encouraging businesses to apply within a short two-week window. Huppert used the Reopen Placer web page template from Dreamweaver to create the “Placer Shares” page with information on eligibility, application preparation, how grants are prioritized, and other frequently asked questions. The team also used InDesign to make the online application form more user-friendly in the process.
If the reopening effort was a test, Glick and Huppert passed with flying colors. With Adobe Creative Cloud, Glick knows the teams can continue to make Placer County services more accessible, even during challenging times.
“We’re now thinking about how to shift how we reach the public – it’s no longer enough to print a stack of flyers to sit on a counter,” Glick says. “We really have an opportunity to use creativity to show the value Placer County brings to our communities.”