I am chairing a workshop today on municipal communications and will blog in near real time about the core ideas being presented. A presentation by the City of Moncton's Paul Thompson and Jillian Somers was a great way to kick off the morning since it focused on communication strategies to manage the 2005 Stones 'Bigger Bang Tour' concert which played to 85,000 people in Moncton:
- City employees are a key audience: Talk to them directly through roundtables, Intranet, newsletters etc.
- When it comes to a big concert, you don't really need to worry about the media. They want the story.
- Keep all audiences updated even if you don't know everything.
- Invite venue neighbours to meetings because they are the ones who can cause the most problems.
- Don't over-worry communication. People in the City of Moncton were told to stay off the streets during the concert . . . and they did. The downtown on the day of the concert was dead.
- Facilitate message coordination among all departments (health, police services).
Because communication was managed well, the Moncton venue is now hosting other major concerts.
Kevin Sack of the City of Toronto drew out four interesting lessons about communicating to another level of government using citizens as a conduit. The ideas came out of citizen focus groups undertaken to evaluate the city's planned campaign communication strategy for its demand of the federal government that cities being given one cent of the national goods and services tax:
- Keep messages simple and obvious. Don't be too cute in ideas or language
- Make the campaign cost-effective: Citizens don't want their tax money spent on communications.
- Be transparent about the motivation for the campaign, and be accountable for the reasons for a financial request to another level of government.
- Don't go it alone in a municipal campaign. Toronto's 'one cent of the GST now' campaign was launched with six or seven smaller municipalites.
Here are a few things to remember about journalists courtesy of David Sieger of Enterprise Canada :
- Journalists love their job. They must because deadlines drive their life and they aren't well paid.
- Journalists write for their editor, not the public.
- As surprising as it seems, many journalists still see themselves as "society's watchdogs" . . . that is those whose don't allow themselves to be manipulated by others in the need to be first with a story.
- Journalists have no idea what the public thinks of them.
- "Many journalists have no idea what they don't know."
- Yes, journalists believe in their own impartiality . . . even when it is evident they bring a bias to a story.