There is something unique about living in a small town that happens to be a highly active resort/second homeowner town. Up and down The Southeast Shore, towns experience their own unique challenges and needs, but we are noticing one thing that is consistent: the need for better communication between a city/township government and its residents.
Progress is a natural thing. An influx of residents or businesses cause a natural spike in questions from residents. In a community that may more heavily rely on a vacation goers and second home owners, it’s even more vital for the municipality to have a close connection with the residents - all year round.
Specifically for small towns, information spreads fast - which is a good thing. It can be efficient. But incorrect or incomplete information can also spread fast, prompting confusion, anger and negativity around an idea or project that the city/town may need. In addition, a business opening for the first time may experience the brunt of the negativity simply because the city leaders did not communicate the business goals effectively.
I’ve been working in the digital communication space for 20 years. Online negatively can be bad. And take time to respond to. I know, I get it. My response? That’s too bad.
In a world where people consume a copious amount of content online, magazines, billboards, streaming TV, etc, entities (including city/town governments) need to equip their staff and partners to message citizens appropriately. From a working meeting to discuss a topic to a ‘heads-up’ note about a new business coming in town to a public forum to discuss the future a town, public input is crucial for many reasons.
The most important reason, town evangelism. Stick with me.
If you have a community of residents who feel informed and connected to their city government, then you have a population of people who are proud of where they live. This pride then extends to the visitors who may come for an extended weekend or month.
You will get less disgruntled residents smirking at weekend visitors who are looking to populate their Instagram feeds.
You will get lifelong town locals involved in the decision process of what happens to their town.
You will get visitors who can arrive and enjoy their weekends without wondering why so many people look at them with dismay and anger.
You will have the ability to do solid and efficient future planning for other industries you can bring to town.
You will have a better working relationship with towns next to you, thus creating a network of efficiency and perhaps resource sharing (go figure).
You will have a tighter relationship between residents, businesses and government - in the good times and the bad.
It’s all a win-win, friends.