Congratulations to These PublicInput Customers for Winning a 2023 NC3C Excellence in Communications Award
Each year, North Carolina City & County Communicators (NC3C) recognizes great local government communicators by showcasing top-level work and announcing its Excellence in Communications Awards at its annual conference.
We’re excited to share that several PublicInput customers were recognized for their achievements. Below are a few projects that we wanted to highlight as great examples of reaching, engaging, understanding, and communicating with residents.
Buncombe County, North Carolina
Based on direction from the Buncombe County commissioners and community input from an Ad Hoc Reappraisal Committee, the IT (Information Technology) and CAPE (Communication and Public Engagement) departments were tasked with getting this project completed quickly in Fall 2022 with a target launch in early December 2022.
The tax website was a custom application originally written by developers in the IT department and they were tasked with the implementation of the new site. CAPE’s role was to guide the UX (User Experience) and user flow of the project with goals for the project.
The initial specifications and designs were based on feedback the county received from the tax department on what the biggest ‘pain points’ end users were struggling with. In short, they were looking for website-related questions that residents kept asking or what information were users struggling to find.
In November 2022, the county had a functional prototype that CAPE took back to the community for user research and feedback. Using the PublicInput platform, CAPE produced a survey that could be taken in person or online allowing users to submit feedback on the new design. The team also reached out to stakeholder neighborhoods that are typically underserved, meeting with neighborhood associations, and partnering with the local board of realtors to make sure they were listening to as many voices as time allowed in the process.
Using the data to inform the final iteration of the site before launch was important to all departments involved. The custom development team in IT translated all of the design and feedback details into reality when the site was launched on December 12, 2022.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The Town of Chapel Hill understands that approaching government employees can be intimidating, especially when one needs to voice their opinions or concerns on a particular topic. Often, community members do not even know who to talk to or where to go to bring their issues to the Town’s attention. Due to the disconnection observed between Town employees and those who live, work, play, or study in Chapel Hill, the initiative called Let’s Talk Town was founded to bridge this gap.
The main goals of Let’s Talk Town 2022 were to get people involved and more aware of the Town’s functions, engage with Town surveys, and register for Town programs or events. The initial focus of the initiative in was to get the community’s input on how the Town should spend the $10.6 million received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As the initiative grew, more departments reached out to the Let’s Talk Town team asking if we could help them promote their initiatives.
Initiatives included the Peoples Academy registration (known elsewhere as citizens academy); the Police Department’s Community Policing Academy and a program called G.E.M.S. for young women; the Town’s Summer Youth Employment; park and playground improvements including the inclusive playground and splash pad feasibility study by the Parks and Recreation Department; the Town’s advisory boards application; and Communications and Public Affair’s TOWNnews survey.
Let’s Talk Town partners go to the people, hosting virtual and in-person opportunities to talk to people about various functions departments are seeking input on or want to promote, while also welcoming any questions or concerns the community members would like to bring forward about any topic. By working together to promote ongoing projects, inter-departmental communications and collaboration also improve, which makes future joint efforts easier to coordinate.
Concord, North Carolina
We loved this comprehensive educational campaign put together by the city of Concord. It truly exemplifies the importance of using multiple forms of communication to reach your residents in all corners of the community.
To address the growing need and desire of residents for more parks and greenways, City Council approved plans for nine park projects totaling $60 million dollars. These nine park projects include the construction of four brand new parks – including two in the fastest growing Northwest section of the city where there are currently no parks – and renovations to five existing parks, as well as an additional eight miles of greenway.
Current city revenues cannot cover the cost of the nine park projects. As a result, a General Obligation (GO) Bond referendum was put before voters during the November 8, 2022 election. It was up to voters to decide if they wanted to approve the city borrowing money to pay for the new parks and recreation projects.
The challenge: it had been nearly 40 years since City of Concord voters had to vote on a GO Bond. The last City of Concord GO Bond Referendum was in 1984. Many of the city’s current voting population did not live in the city the last time a referendum was on the ballot, many were not even born yet, or they were not old enough to vote. This presented a significant information gap.
The City’s Public Affairs team was tasked with developing an educational campaign that would inform citizens about the vote on November 8th and the park projects that would be funded if the bond referendum was approved. The campaign included:
- Bill insert
- Magazine article
- Social Media
- City-sponsored events
- Civic education programs
- Community meetings
- Stakeholder meetings
- Employee engagement
- Powerpoint template
- News media
- Yard signs
- Road signs
Hendersonville, North Carolina
While the city of Hendersonville may not have used the PublicInput platform specifically for this initiative, we did want to recognize the creativity and good sense of humor.
A week before its Christmas Parade, the Police Department drastically changed the detour routes to better divert traffic away from the parade route and staging area. The PD and City leadership wanted the information out quickly as the public would not be accustomed to the new traffic routes and would need advanced notice of the detours. With a short time window, the routes were sketched out by the PD and converted to a map for the website and social media. The issue of the public not being aware of the detour changes was solved within hours of the Facebook post. Everyone in the town, county, state, country, and beyond was now well aware of what the routes would be. While the artistic value of the parade map was initially unnoticed, the Communications team immediately sprung into action to capitalize on the traction the post was gaining and to have a little fun in the process. What could have been a serious, stuffy, expected government response turned into an opportunity for local government to show a lighter side, engage with the community, and provide some much-needed laughs around the holidays.
Congratulations to this additional list of PublicInput customers for their award-winning projects and initiatives announced at the 2023 NC3C Conference:
- Apex, North Carolina
- Holly Springs, North Carolina
- Mecklenburg County, North Carolina