We just learned that Cranberry was awarded first place by Pennsylvania’s state association of township supervisors for our use of social media in communicating with residents. The award recognized the Township for its use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in providing information that the judges determined was useful, helpful, understandable and appropriate.
And we certainly appreciate that honor.
Social media, which are all pretty much creatures of the 21st century, have grown tremendously in their reach and influence over just the past five years. However they haven’t exactly replaced the older, more traditional media, either. So, as part of our ongoing commitment to keeping Cranberry’s residents, guests, business leaders and other constituencies informed, we have been working hard to expand our arsenal of communication tools.
As a reader of this online blog, you are already part of this new media environment, and we hope our website is serving you well. But you may or may not follow anyone on Twitter. You may live on Facebook, but you may or may not read the local newspaper. The fact is that today, the ‘mass’ component of ‘mass media’ has shrunk dramatically from what it had been in the past. More and more people are turning to increasingly specialized publications, cable channels, websites, satellite radio outlets, mobile services and other narrowly targeted communication instruments for their information, opinions, and consumer preferences. The days when a local government could simply post a legal notice in a nearby newspaper and assume it had done everything needed to relay vital information, are a distant memory – even though the law requiring newspaper notifications has remained unchanged.
With today’s highly fragmented audiences, it is essentially impossible for local government to be everywhere, on every medium. But we’re doing our best to make sure we don’t leave our residents wondering what their elected officials are up to, when events are scheduled to take place, or how to make use of local services – no matter what their personal media habits happen to be. So we make use of as many media as we can – both established and emerging ones – to get the word out.
And the reason is quite simple: it’s that Cranberry Township’s success as a place to live, work and play is a direct result of engaged dialogue with our residents and businesses. That commitment to open, frank and sincere engagement has led us to become one of Pennsylvania’s most respected townships for our approach to local government management. That approach has not only resulted in a better informed community, it has also fostered an environment of economic prosperity at a time of regional, state and national retrenchment and decline.
Last week, for example, we launched a public process to review Cranberry’s recreation and open space programs. More than a thousand residents took the time to send us their comments online. Then earlier this week, several dozen came to personally participate in an open forum to further explore the issue. So our media communications and our face-to-face connections are closely bound together.
Whatever your own preferences for keeping informed, I invite you to take advantage of our growing media options. They include a greatly enhanced website, email alerts, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, our redesigned quarterly newsletter, and our videos on YouTube. Walk the municipal center hallways and you’ll find they are filled with useful attractive messages, invitations and announcements about community initiatives. And then drive through the intersection of Routes 19 and 228 where you’ll see the most recent addition to our communications tool kit: the electronic community sign. Not only is its readership huge, its very existence, which is a direct result of our strong engagement with Rotary, Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce and UPMC, offers additional validation of our commitment to partnerships.
It’s really something to Tweet about.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about how we're doing in these communication efforts. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org