Public relations is a term often associated with businesses or corporations trying to improve their image. However, it also applies to cities. As a city administrator, part of your job is to improve public and tourist perception of your town—but how do you change the opinions of the masses?
You have a difficult job ahead of you. There may have been many things to damage the public relations between citizens and administrators in the past. For example, poor communication, expensive tax decisions, and strict city ordinances can make administrators look bad.
Despite the current opinion of the public, the damage is reversible. Your job may be challenging for a time, but this task is not insurmountable, and as you apply certain tactics, public opinion will continually rise in your favor.
Here are some of the best tactics for better PR in your city.
1. Make your city a place people want to live
It’s true—this is a tall order, especially if your city’s residents already have a poor opinion of it. This important change starts with listening to and understanding your audience. What do they value more than anything? What’s currently lacking in your city? Try to implement the answers to these questions.
For example, if your citizens are family-oriented, you might work on improving public education, implementing more safety initiatives, boosting free youth activities, building parks and other play spaces, and providing family-fun activities.
To inspire your efforts, look closely at other cities that are striving to meet the needs of its citizens. Scottsdale, AZ, for instance, is one of the top-rated cities in the state for this reason. The real estate market is booming as a result, and retirees, vacationers, and families continually flock to the city to enjoy all it has to offer. Take a page out of their book and apply it to your own city.
2. Boost smart tech initiatives in commercial and residential settings
Smart technology is important to most people today. They’ve grown up surrounded by smart gadgets, the latest devices, and automation; therefore, there are dozens of benefits to smart cities. Many people want to live in a smart city, not only because it’s cool, but also because it’s more efficient and economical.
Look at ways to intelligently incorporate smart devices into your city’s infrastructure. For example, you might install an automatic crosswalk indicator to keep pedestrian traffic moving. Parking apps, city guide apps, touchscreen kiosks, charging stations, mobile payments, and more initiatives indicate a forward-thinking administration.
If you’re behind the initiative to install all of this smart tech, you can significantly improve PR between residents and the administration.
3. Improve your communication with the public
In many cases for both cities and businesses, poor public relations can relate to poor communication. You may have the city’s best interests in mind, but your end goal is not always clear to others, damaging their opinion of your work.
Don’t let communication fall by the wayside. As you make it a priority, good PR will follow. There are many ways to better communicate, including sending out email blasts, posting banners and flyers around the city, starting a social media page, sending SMS messages, encouraging word of mouth, and incentivizing participation.
Interconnection is key in any good relationship, and your city is no exception. Identify communication problems in your administration and swiftly correct them to efficiently align your efforts with that of your constituents.
4. Earn more support for change
Cities must change and grow if they want to thrive in today’s landscape. Technology and mainstream communication make it impossible for cities to stay the same when something better is just around the corner.
However, there will always be members of your community that hate change and will do everything they can to stop it—including misinforming the public. To avoid this, build a team of civil servants who have the same vision as your administration. Work in tandem to inform the public, retain feedback, and overall ease your community members into the change.
As you get more citizens on board, you’ll be able to smoothly integrate your initiatives, creating a better city with a highly communicative infrastructure.