By TROY KIDDER | Kidder and Co. Inc.
One definition of a municipality is “a center for the exchanging of goods and services.” In other words, it’s people and money. Chances are you’re already doing a great job serving the people. You keep the roads repaired and clean, provide safe water to drink and use … not to mention oversee safety services such as police and fire prevention. The list goes on and on.
All of these contribute to a foundation that fosters an environment of economic development and growth. That ought to be enough; however, as mentioned in my article in the May issue of The Municipal, there’s more to do: communications and public relations.
Not only do newsletters, websites and videos done in excellence improve your image and function within the community, they contribute greatly to the economic development of your municipality.
First, communication creates a “buzz” by making folks aware of all the great services provided by you and your team. Hey, if you don’t toot your own proverbial horn, how will they know? And it’s bigger than that: When people feel safe and the town is running smoothly, it will certainly blossom economically.
In today’s world good communication and PR must be continual and take place through several different mediums in order to keep the economic fires burning. The great thing about the digital world is that it not only can benefit you locally, but internationally as well. On the Web, anyone can visit your town or city at any time.
Once again, it’s important to note that the medium is the message. Not all websites or videos are helpful. Websites must be well-written, well-edited and easy to navigate. There should be clear, crisp photos of community members enjoying your safe and friendly town.
Videos should be no more than three minutes in length and skip the corny voice-overs. That’s where it can really help to hire a professional firm that offers turn-key services, so you can stay on task with the literally hundreds of other things you need to do.
The value of this will pay continual dividends. Remember, enterprising people are constantly looking for safe towns and safe schools to raise their kids, find good jobs and build businesses: places that have a flair for the future with a foundational understanding of everyday goodness. A well-produced website with a professional video can articulate this.
Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, can help as well; however, they also require caution. These types of media simply cannot be done haphazardly if you have a high expectation of positive feedback. There is a professional art to social media and it should only be done as a small portion of the communication and PR plan.
Social media can produce even more trouble than it’s worth in some cases, including legal issues for towns, cities and schools, if not addressed properly.There are an awful lot of nonprofits, schools, municipalities and the like out there that think by just having a presence on social media they are in tune with the times. Chances are they are doing more damage than good.
Great municipalities don’t just happen; they are planned. The same is true of communications and PR. So as you continue to do an admirable job of serving your municipality, creating a safe environment for people to live and prosper, please keep in mind that communications must be ongoing. It must be done in excellence in several mediums, especially in today’s digital world, or growth will be hindered and economic opportunity lost. All in all, the digital world offers great opportunity to promote your excellent community.
Troy Kidder is a former assistant town manager, former school teacher and a communications and PR professional. He serves communities across the country with communications and public relations solutions. His website is www.kiddermedia.com, or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.