Within the Din: Get your message to your constituents

28 10 2008

Given the nature of this political season, messages from elected officials and wanna-be elected officials has become a steady blur, especially for those of us in the swing state of Ohio.  Every major network TV station and radio station is now an endless barrage of “Vote For Me” messages.  Frankly, I very much look forward to the election being over so we can back to commercials for beer, really bad car dealerships, and the inevitable “personal care” products. No, I do not have painful burning, itching and swelling, but thank you for running a thirty second ad to tell me what to do when this does happen!

It is under the environment of endless political talk that I am reminded, once again, how critically important it is for elected officials to Get Your Message Out!  Communications technology has changed dramitically over the past decade. E-mail, internet sites, blogs, webinars, Twitter, You Tube and endless other vehicles of electronic communication have made the basic land-line phone call just another tool of communication. Public officials must communicate with their core constituents, and in the manners that work for them, not for you. It is no longer acceptable to simply call a meeting at City.Village Hall and 1) Expect people to know the meeting is scheduled, and 2) To expect busy people to show up. You must reach out to your community in the broadest fashion to ensure you have an informed audience.  Get your message out!  Let people know what their government is doing, and the successes and challenges your community faces.  Sure, municipal business still must have public meetings for decion-making, but your constituents need to hear from you much more often. 

A great example of this level of communication has been the outreach efforts by the leaders of the Regional Economic Revenue Study (RERS).  RERS is an initiative of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association to enhance economic development across the region through a region-wide land use planning and new growth revenue sharing program.  Lead by Hudson Mayor William A. Currin, Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce H. Akers, and Richfield Village Mayor Mike Lyons, this initiative has now reached the public outreach phase. RERS leaders, including Kerry Smith, Don Polyak and Tom Speaks of The Impact Group, have been hosting and faciliating presentations across the region to get the word out.  This effort inludes e-mails to elected officials, inviation letters through traditional snail mail, phone calls to key stakeholders, press releases, and a website for more information (www.revenuestudy.org) Further, RERS is highlighted by our funding partners The Fund for Our Economic Future and Advanced Northeast Ohio. It is only through the combined effort of all these communications we are able to then sit knee-to-knee with a broad range of key constituents to get the word out. We are reaching them in the manner they best respond, not in the manner easiest or fastest for us. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive, with a highly-engaged audience learning of this important initiative.  The RERS presentations contain the phrase: “Be informed, Get On Board!”  This message is only possible through effective outreach and communication.

RERS has been featured in several newspaper articles across the region, and live on PBS 45-49 as well as the Dan Rivers show on WKBN in Mahoning Valley.  Through a sustained and consistent messaging campaign, the RERS initiative continues to grow in awareness and support.  Is YOUR message getting across effectively?? Or, is the idle banter in coffee shops and hair salons still the communication method in your town?  Better think about it!  Residents and business owners receive a deafening din of communication in this 24/7 news world. Your message needs to rise above in order to be heard. Let your constituents know you want them to “Be informed, Get On Board!”

Let me know how YOU communicate today!

-Kerry

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