NJ Future Forum 2012 Communications Strategy Clisham

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Why investing in a communications strategy to go along with your redevelopment initiative is a good investment long-term, and some guiding points to help you do it well.

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  • Similar to Hunterdon County, NJPreserved farmland, mainly on west side of countyReservoir/watershedInterstate, all others state roads -- trafficProximity to Howard, Baltimore – was once a farming community, now increasingly a bedroom communitySprawlTaxes
  • 2008-2009One goal: try to bring some more ratables to ease the residential property tax burden, since population and traffic were both growing
  • Biggest thing in the new plan was the proposed rezoning of some land along state roads, PLUS …Creation of small employment center around Taylorsville – rezoning, installation of sewers.Implications?250 people at first public meeting, VERY FEW OF WHOM had had any prior contact with the process. Shouted the plan down.
  • Two years’ worth of work, massive consulting fees for economic projections, traffic analysis, etc.In fact, they got a lot of out-of-state help with websites, communications, organizing, etc., all completely unnoticed by county officials.Carroll County still has huge traffic and property tax problems.
  • Information no longer flows one-to-many, top-down, and we need to stop thinking it does. It’s now peer-to-peer, and you can bet it will creep in under your radar while you’re doing your day job.Because they didn’t see it coming, they failed to neutralize the opposition. THAT’s one of the big things we’re going to talk about today.You have to work hard to get a constituency in favor. (State Strategic Plan)List at end
  • Colleen O’DeaMayor Womack – will talk about the process North Brunswick went through to get its TOD project approved, and where the media helped and hurtJonathan Rosen – how to do a communications strategyBrandon Palanker – public engagement in the digital age
  • NJ Future Forum 2012 Communications Strategy Clisham

    1. 1. Why You Need aCommunications Strategy Elaine R. Clisham • Director of Communications • New Jersey Future
    2. 2. New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings together concerned citizens and leaders to promote responsible land-use policies.The organization employs original research, analysis and advocacy to build coalitions and drive land-use policies that help revitalize cities and towns, protect natural lands and farms, provide more transportation choices beyond cars, expand access to safe and affordable neighborhoods and fuel a prosperous economy.
    3. 3. Carroll County, Md.
    4. 4. The project: Update the plan• Hundreds of neighborhood meetings• Map-it-out workshops• Website• Mailings• Booths at community events• Newspaper coverage/radio interviews• Unveiled new Pathways Plan
    5. 5. The new plan
    6. 6. The result?• Pathways Plan shelved• No commissioner survived the next election; all replaced by Tea Party members• Planning director fired• “Updated” existing comprehensive plan by removing any reference to smart growth, sustainability, housing choices, mixed use or density (video available)
    7. 7. Lessons learned• We are no longer in charge of information flow• Didn’t anticipate/neutralize opposition• Cost of peer-to-peer organizing?• Easier to organize against; no constituency in favor• Powerful digital tools many of us aren’t using
    8. 8. What we’ll talk about• What the media needs from you• What to know about today’s local media• How to build a strategy before you need it• Case study of harnessing the crowd• Q&A• Adult beverages
    9. 9. Strategic imperatives• NOT investing in a communications strategy is penny-wise, pound-foolish• Need people with knowledge of local politics, power players• Have it planned out before you take anything public• Identify key benefits of your initiative and likely objections to it
    10. 10. Steps to take• Identify all key stakeholders. If your initiative will touch them, they should have a voice.• If the initiative is large, consider forming a latitudinal steering committee. Meet regularly, and develop a communications schedule and goals.• Address objections/objectors. Either alter the plan to take their concerns into account, or negotiate ways for them not to undermine it.
    11. 11. Messaging• Make sure your messaging is consistent, and focuses on how your initiative will meet constituent needs or provide benefits to constituents.• Determine who will be the best messenger for various messages: it should be whoever has the most credibility with the target constituency
    12. 12. The media, part 1• Identify all the media that could write about your initiative – including blogs, listserves, social media and hyperlocal sites as well as traditional print media• Meet with them early and often, at all levels, to educate and explain the importance of what you’re doing.• Give them time when they ask for it.
    13. 13. The media, part 2• Get op-ed pieces and letters placed when appropriate, written by the best messengers• Participate in the digital conversation: engage on Facebook and Twitter and in blog and article comments• Create your own media hub – a blog or closed social network such as http://bristolrising.com
    14. 14. Resourceshttp://www.slideshare.net/njfuture/nj-future-redevelopment-forum-communications-strategy-resources
    15. 15. Thank you! Elaine R. Clisham Director of Communications eclisham@njfuture.org New Jersey Future 137 W. Hanover St. Trenton, N.J. 08618 609-393-0008 ext. 102 http://www.njfuture.org

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