Jim Good and I recently returned from an amazingly productive and enlightening conference hosted by the City-County Communications & Marketing Association.
Though we were only in Anaheim for 3 days, and got a cumulative 12 hours of sleep, we met a ton of great people and were reminded of why PublicInput’s work matters.
What I learned about communicators
- You’re not going to meet a group of people who care more about the residents they serve
- Communicators are usually the ‘early adopters’ of innovative approaches to resident engagement
2am Phone Calls
When one thinks of middle-of-the-night crises, the first people to come to mind might be first responders.
The first responders certainly get the first call, but after that, they call the communications team for help. I heard countless stories of communications directors and PIO’s getting the 2am phone call, getting out of bed, arriving on the scene of an unfolding crisis, and handling the media and public response.
Then after those overnight heroics they return to their desks, without any extra thanks or compensation, to do the work of the public again and again.
This is not your typical desk job.
Drivers of innovation
Because they provide the ‘membrane’ between internal staff and the public, communicators have to be attuned to ever-changing technological interfaces, communications channels, and approaches.
Faced with the challenge of innovating or becoming ineffective, communicators have naturally been quick to adopt and master new tools like social media, live video, text messaging, live meeting voting, and even the double selfie stick.
It’s for that reason technologists like us LOVE being part of their community. They speak our language. They push technology to new limits. They get it.
An affirming experience
Overall, the conference was a great reminder that at its core, public engagement is about improving how we respond to the needs of the communities we serve. When we do that well, government is more responsive and quality of life improves for all.
Here’s a few photo highlights from our time there. We can’t wait to see you all again next year!