3CMA - City-County Communications & Marketing Association

3CMA - City-County Communications & Marketing Association The nation’s premiere network of local government communicators, founded on the philosophy that communications and marketing are essential to helping governments engage and build stronger relationships with their residents.
If people are the heart of a community, communication is the lifeblood. Without it, there is no conversation, no engagement, no relationship. Effective public communicators are vital to local government success, linking citizens to the essential information they need to access services and be part of the democratic process, cultivating a shared vision for the community. For 27 years, 3CMA has championed the role of the public communicator and has delivered innovative education and programming to help communicators and their communities be successful. 3CMA members are part of a dynamic network of more than 700 professional public communicators from all over the nation. Through national conferences, regional meetings and seminars, webinars, online networking opportunities, and inspiring award programs, 3CMA members are able to tap into the best local government marketing and public relations has to offer. And perhaps most importantly, they establish meaningful connections with those who are faced with similar opportunities and challenges every day.

Social Media: It’s OK to Have Fun Even in a PandemicAs government agencies around the country address the current public...

Social Media: It’s OK to Have Fun Even in a Pandemic

As government agencies around the country address the current public health emergency, communicators have been charged with developing effective and creative messaging for residents, a unique challenge to say the least. Over the next few weeks several 3CMA members will share the details and outcomes of their COVID-19 information campaigns, continuing the founding principle of 3CMA that ideas are for sharing.

By Morgan Dobbins
Public Information Specialist | Leon County, Florida

Social Media—it’s both the bane and excitement of our existence.

Since social media became popular in the early 2000’s, it has taken the communications world by storm. It offers a new, more personable and direct way to connect with customers, and in our case, residents.

With the advent of Facebook, social media shifted from merely a place to connect with friends (and celebrities) to a platform where businesses could create an online presence. As Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and SnapChat began to emerge and gain momentum over the last 10 years, advertisers saw the opportunity and shifted their campaigns and dollars in an unprecedented way. It became necessary to have a presence on Facebook, whether in advertising or on a page, so customers could connect and familiarize themselves with your brand.

As government communicators, we often walk a fine line between how our residents view us: serious and authoritative or creative and social.

Venn Diagram - Role of Authority Fun Social Voice

We might be government, but we aren’t boring. We all like memes and watch cultural phenomena like Tiger King, as they come and go throughout pop culture, creating a cultural dialogue and joint humor amongst us all.

But how do we address important communications like pandemics and natural disasters and still fit into the widely comedic and light-hearted world of social media. That’s not to say social media can’t get vitriolic, or isn’t full of trolls—we’ve definitely seen our fair share of both. But much of social media is a place where average people go to connect and see what’s happening in the world, often through the sarcastic lens of others.

Social media has created a realm where culture lives, where people live tweet shows and engage in dialogue in real time. New technology, like Facebook and Instagram Live, allows commission meetings to be streamed in real time to residents so they can comment at the exact time something is being said. That’s powerful.

However that power can also cause chaos. A pre-scheduled post about an event is released as the governor shuts down the state. A post has become politicized, and your team is now on the receiving end of comments you didn’t expect but must now moderate and provide a response. Mitigating backlash with forward thought before posting is critical but requires time and resources.

So what are government communicators to do? Give up on social media? Do we block comments, or do we post a single response? Walking the line between what is fun and what is useful is challenging. Many brands have faced this, but in government, we can’t be sarcastic like Wendy’s because we need our audience to eat chicken sandwiches and revere our authority.

As we compete with an unfathomable amount of online clutter constantly vying for the attention of our residents, I argue that we must make social media as fun for our audiences as possible so we can compete.

Here’s how you keep it fun:

Use Bright Colors
During COVID-19, Leon County produced brightly colored Safer at Home messaging that gained significant traction online. We had previously used a brightly colored, comic book-style information graphic to promote our Household Hazardous Waste Collections, with significant success in attendance and collections. So we adopted the same strategy for COVID-19 messaging. Use Bright Colors Example

Use Less Formal Language
One way we’ve made our social media posts fun is by making our language more conversational and less text. We’ve even used emojis. Less formal language allows us to connect easily with residents. Shifting to shorter Instagram captions is one of the strategies that has helped us triple our following over the past six months. Our Twitter following grew by 10 percent.

Make it Your Own
The secret to the success of the alligator graphic we created to demonstrate social distancing was seeing what others were doing and giving it our own Florida spin. Look for successful ideas used in other communities and localize it to your state or county. Understanding your audience goes a long way in creating something they will enjoy.

Make It Your Own - Alligator Social Distancing Example

You’re a Resident Too!
What would make you laugh? What would you want to see from your local government? Think about how you engage as a resident with your county or city and then use that to influence how you communicate to others.

Get Creative
Think outside the box as much as you can! There’s no harm in trying something and finding out it doesn’t work. Maybe your audience doesn’t care about IGTV or maybe your posts about certain topics perform differently than others. Use that to determine how people are responding and find a way to change it up. Try posting the same message with a different caption and see which does better. Test your audience and see how they respond to different tactics. Does joining Facebook groups and sharing posts lead to more impressions? If it does—do that more. You might even poll your residents on your social media pages to see what they want to see more of.

Communications is fun, and social media is the most fun of all! Let your hair down a little bit and connect with your residents in new and unexpected ways.

#3CMAMemberBlog #WeGetGov #3CMABlog

3CMA Webinar - What and Who Are You Listening To? Using the Right Input for Important DecisionsDate: Wednesday, June 10,...

3CMA Webinar - What and Who Are You Listening To? Using the Right Input for Important Decisions

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 – 2 pm ET / 11 am PT
Hashtag: #3CMAWebinar
Sign-Up Now as Space is Limited!

What are the biggest COVID-19 risks in your community - and for who? Are lockdown protesters the tip of the iceberg or the outliers? What are the needs and concerns that you aren’t hearing about?

You need public input to answer questions like these. But you also need to know which data you need for which decisions, what channels are good for what data, and what makes data unrepresentative or even dangerous. Now you can.

This presentation will teach you powerful insights through current events, including eye-opening COVID-19 data and community survey data that you haven’t seen before. You’ll see how:

- Self-selection ruins COVID testing data… and public input data
- Data aggregation creates confusion about COVID risks… and about community needs
- Focusing on the wrong data leads to COVID missteps… and mistaken agency decisions

You’ll learn from a data expert, Kevin Lyons, whose helpful frameworks and interesting facts left the Certified Public Communicator students at TCU “wanting more.”

If you’ve ever wanted your agency to use data the right way, especially public input, this will be the easiest and most entertaining way to learn what you need to know. You’ll leave with simple tools you can use and share with colleagues. You’ll help everyone avoid bad guesses and big mistakes as you adjust services and budgets going forward. Don’t miss this one!


As government agencies around the country address the current public health emergency, communicators have been charged w...

As government agencies around the country address the current public health emergency, communicators have been charged with developing effective and creative messaging for residents, a unique challenge to say the least. Over the next few weeks several 3CMA members will share the details and outcomes of their COVID-19 information campaigns, continuing the founding principle of 3CMA that ideas are for sharing.

Trending Now: #FaceCoverings

By Lenka Wright
Director of Communications
City of Santa Clara, California

I like fashion. Face coverings – not so fashionable. Usually. That sort of sentiment was pre-coronavirus pandemic. Now the jury of public opinion is coming close to a verdict.

In some places, you don’t have a choice on whether or not to be masked. Seven states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – require residents to wear face coverings when they visit essential businesses or use public transportation. Many local jurisdictions, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, are issuing mandates for individuals to wear face coverings whenever they leave their home.

This approach has proven controversial across the country. Within 24 hours, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine backed off his original order to require retail customers to wear masks, saying “it went too far.” In Flint, Mich., a Family Dollar security guard was fatally shot after telling a customer that her child needed to wear a face mask to enter the store. In the meantime, there’s a new cultural phenomenon known as mask shaming. That’s when someone covering their face against COVID-19 calls somebody out for not doing the same.

In the latest Shelter-in-Place order that went into effect May 4, 2020, the County of Santa Clara, Calif., required the wearing of masks both by business employees and customers only after weeks of firmly suggesting their usage when in stores for essential needs.

For the City of Santa Clara, we listened to the public health experts who strongly urged the wearing of face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. We heard from residents and business owners who were concerned about asymptomatic people unknowingly infecting others. For those of us who had been working in the Emergency Operations Center since March 11, donning a mask had become second nature. But not so much for the community at large. Plus, we had to make sure the public knew it was okay to wear a cloth face covering after hearing in the news, day after day, that there weren’t enough N95 masks for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. That’s when the Stay Covered, Santa Clara social media campaign was born.

Using the hashtag #SantaClaraHasitCovered, we asked Santa Clarans to take a selfie of themselves wearing a face covering and share it with us. We created a webpage with local rules, tips on wearing a face mask properly, and how to make one, including a video demonstration from U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams. At first we showed images of staff doing essential activities, such as getting gas or going grocery shopping. Of course, we already had a head start on ordering uniquely designed masks off Etsy or Amazon. We also humanized the wearing of face coverings by showing a caregiver dropping off food for a senior who’s at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19.

And then the selfies started trickling in. One was from a family. Some were from members of the Reclaiming Downtown group. Others were in Star Wars-themed face coverings to celebrate “May the 4th Be With You” day. While they may be hiding behind a mask in the selfies, these mask wearers are all proudly showing the community they care by having it covered.

But what’s not exactly hidden is our social media engagement numbers, especially on Twitter, which are going sky high. While we’ve seen a significant increase in most of the City’s COVID-19 related communications, the #SantaClaraHasItCovered posts are getting more views, more shares and more likes than we’ve experienced since the outbreak spread to the West Coast. Plus, the engagement’s about triple what we normally would see for an average post.

Maybe it has something to do with recent pop culture. In its third season, FOX’s “The Masked Singer” remains a hit show. It features celebrities singing behind a mask and keeping everyone guessing, wondering who’s next to get kicked off and be unmasked. For those of us not secretly performing on TV, wearing a face covering can save lives while also leaving a little mystery. Are they smiling? Are they sneering? Or is that my next-door neighbor who looks very different with a camo face covering on?

The City Communications Team took a risk with this unique outreach to try to change people’s behavior and normalize the wearing of a mask. It’s a serious topic. It involves public health, and it involves a highly contagious disease. It’s also a time when so many have been sheltering at home for weeks, feeling isolated and looking for “some good news.”

In times of prosperity and in times of need, Santa Clara has it covered. And I hope you do too – with a face covering. Fashionably, of course.


#3CMABlog #3CMAMemberBlog #WeGetGov #COVID-19

3CMA would like to extend a huge "Thank you!" to Brent Ainsworth - Marin County, CA, Kathy Gilwit - New Rochelle, NY and...

3CMA would like to extend a huge "Thank you!" to Brent Ainsworth - Marin County, CA, Kathy Gilwit - New Rochelle, NY and Renae Madison - Decatur, GA for the recent webinar - "Planning for the Future When No One is Listening!". View the recorded presentation by using the following URL:


#3CMAWebinar #WeGetGov

3CMA Webinar - Planning for the Future When No One is Listening!Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m. ET, 10 am PTRegister: https:/...

3CMA Webinar - Planning for the Future When No One is Listening!

Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m. ET, 10 am PT

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/9815888724294/WN_pIUF-IrOQje_JH6nFYisiw

As a government communicator managing the local response to COVID-19, you’ve barely found time to remember to brush your teeth every day, much less think about what’s next. Plus, some of your residents are restless and ready for a new normal while others want continued stay at home orders. We want to help by bringing together a panel from across the US – from New York, to Georgia, to California – to help you prepare for what’s to come. These three communication pros will touch on how their communities have responded, and what the future is starting to look like. They will share stories on everything from canceling events and getting negative feedback, to decisions about reopening city/county hall to a new normal, to thinking about what services will continue on line. They will not only leave you with new ideas and inspirations but also share stories of challenges you are certain to relate to.

Experiences they’ll touch on include installing the nation’s first shelter-in-place order, which was promptly ignored by people swarming Pacific beaches, to responding to resident concerns when the Governor of Georgia opened up businesses including gyms, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and bowling alleys, to changing from a New York State coronavirus hotspot to the model of flattening the curve.

Join us for a discussion you’ll only find at 3CMA.

Our Presenters:
Brent Ainsworth, Marin County, CA
Brent Ainsworth has been a County of Marin public information specialist since February 2013 following his 24-year career in local journalism. He was a newspaper sportswriter and sports editor for 17 years before switching to features editor and later the local news desk. Before joining county government, he covered Novato CA for Patch.com. Outside of work, he has fun with his classic German cars, and his favorite shelter-in-place activity is researching craft beers.

Kathy Gilwit, New Rochelle, NY
Kathy Gilwit is the Communications & Marketing Manager for New Rochelle, NY, a first-ring suburb of New York City with a population of 80K. In this position, she coordinates the communication efforts for over a dozen departments and bureaus and oversees the City’s website, social media, and public access station. She is a newshound, grammar cop, perennial photographer, mom to a big family spread across six states, and a weekend gardener.

Renae Madison, Decatur, GA
Renae Madison is the Communications Manager/Public Information Officer for the City of Decatur. She is responsible for the city newsletter (Decatur Focus), website, social media, and other communications initiatives including serving as the city’s public information officer. In her spare time, Renae enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying music.

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/9815888724294/WN_pIUF-IrOQje_JH6nFYisiw

Breaking News - Savvy Entry Deadline Extended!Entries Must be Submitted by Monday - June 15th You called, emailed and as...

Breaking News - Savvy Entry Deadline Extended!
Entries Must be Submitted by Monday - June 15th

You called, emailed and asked for it and we listened - here's what we're doing to help you to take a deep breath and breathe a sigh of relief during this unusual time....

The Savvy competition entry deadline has been extended until Monday, June 15th.

Details and entry information is available online: http://3cma.org/59/Savvy-Awards

Please contact [email protected] or the 3CMA Office with any questions (703-707-0830).

Please Note: All Departments, Divisions and Agencies in your organization are eligible to submit Savvy entries at your Member rate!

Who Can Enter?
The 2020 Savvy Awards competition is open to all local government jurisdictions (City, County, Town, Village, District, etc.). In addition, public relations firms, consultants and/or advertising agencies may submit entries on behalf of their local government clients, provided they are submitted under the client’s name and jurisdiction.

Creating a Solution Source
When you submit your Savvy entry, your work becomes part of the most useful database of local government solutions from across the country. We created a Guidebook and Knowledge Repository for 3CMA members to have easy access to Savvy entries from years past with cutting-edge information and ideas from the most creative professionals in the business. This searchable database provides a solution to nearly every municipal challenge you may face at the touch of your fingertips.



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