In recent years, local governments have witnessed citizen involvement decline, however citizens have significant input and power in shaping their local government. Studies show the average citizen is acutely aware of government shortcomings, but far less conscious of the benefits government provides. It is clear the day-to-day services of local government are all too invisible to average citizen.
In 2012 the City of Nacogdoches realized the importance of engaging with its citizens by enabling staff to begin focusing on transparency and communication efforts. We are finding we need new tools to better gauge and understand the preferences and needs of our residents and utilizing these tools in new ways to help foster a two way conversation between local government and the citizens we serve. By utilizing social media and by launching a new cable access channel in the first quarter of 2014 in partnership with NISD, we have begun and maintained these processes. Nevertheless, we need to do more to re-engage citizens in the dialog.
Currently, The City of Nacogdoches in conjunction with Hancock Advertising is working to launch a community pride campaign. This is a continuation of a campaign produced by these two entities called “NacWise” which began in 2014 with the collection of survey data sent in the water bills to community members. These were done in order to collect baseline data to gauge community pride and satisfaction.
The month we seek to launch a continuation of this campaign in order to continue and expand the aforementioned efforts. Although the name is different, the goal to engage the public in a positive manner remains the same.
This campaign brings together logic with the powerful emotion of pride —pride in community, pride in tradition, pride in ourselves. Featured throughout the campaign are city employees and community members telling their stories about the various aspects of our community and boasting about why they love this great city.
One example is local favorite, Thomas Walkup who shows how this college truly shaped his life. We have also worked hard to ensure the stories of others that may not be as well known in our community. For example, our City Planner, Larissa Philpot has worked for the city for over 15 years since she began as an intern in college. Philpot’s life, nor our city would not be the same without the initial internship with the City of Nacogdoches, and this particular story is one of many similar examples seen throughout the campaign. Another featured employee includes the City of Nacogdoches’ Street Sweeper, Phillip Matthews, who works diligently each day to keep our streets clean—and does so with an award winning smile and exuberant personality. These anecdotes are just a few of the stories we aim to tell in this campaign in order to shed light on some of the wonderfully spirited characters we feature throughout our Nacogdoches community.
This campaign will include weekly ads in the newspaper, a heavy social media presence, and billboards. These three communication outlets were chosen in order to reach traditional and non-traditional audiences. Additionally, billboards were chosen due to their staying power and visual impact. We hope when you see them, you think of the hard work our community members do to make Nacogdoches a great place to live and visit each and every day. Since those in our community live busy lives, these messages will also serve as an opportunity to stop and take pause about what is great about the city—from the perspective of employees providing services and those receiving them. These messages also reiterate that the city provides unnoticed services to our public such as landscaping/beautification, utilities, and customer relations.
Overall, the goal of the campaign is to inspire pride around our unique community and create a positive path for local change. It is the hope this effort will aid in the “feel-good” messaging that is also communicated through other efforts such as our daily customer service, #cityofnac discussion series sessions, and ongoing public comment periods at council meetings.
It is also the hope that these efforts will shine the City of Nacogdoches in a positive light and encourage more active participation in local government. Furthermore, the nature of the campaign lends itself to inspire overall community satisfaction to be transferred first-hand to long-term Nacogdoches natives, newcomers, and visitors long-past the duration of the campaign. Ads and messaging will launch beginning in June 2016 and continue for several months. Therefore, if you or someone you know has a great story to tell too, feel free to also contact me at the City of Nacogdoches Communications/Main Street office.
Original article posted 6/1 in the Daily Sentinel: