January 2016 will mark for me 30 years working in the communication industry. Some of that was in training, publishing, internal communication, and marketing and branding roles, but it all was spent doing communication-related work.
Embracing the evolving communication industry
During my 2012 bid for city council, I wrote about our need for a proactive communication strategy (Here are links to these articles: Benefits of a City Communication Strategy and What Does a City Communication Strategy Cost).
The communication, public relations, and marketing industries were morphing into a hybrid role that utilized social media and the internet. Jobs exist today that didn’t exist a decade ago.
City of Rogers finally funding the need
Finally, the 2016 budget for the City of Rogers includes funding for a “public relations” employee. When Mayor Hines spoke at a meeting at the end of October, he called that person a “public information officer.” If we are hiring either of those two types of professionals, it will not provide the return on investment that the people who live, work, and play in Rogers really deserve.
Our city needs a dedicated marketing and communication manager. This person would of course utilize traditional media vehicles like newspaper and television. The communication vehicles of the chamber of commerce and Main Street Rogers would continue to be utilized. Both are membership organizations that have a valuable audience but by no means cover the whole city.
But most important, we need to task this manager to develop our own database and audience of people who live, work, and play in Rogers. With it, we can build and captivate an audience using e-mail, social media, blogs, podcasts, video, and newspaper, television.
The person who holds this position must be able to plan strategically, develop marketing and communication campaigns, run a lean budget, personally create and execute as much as possible, and utilize volunteer and out-sourced labor when necessary to meet broader marketing and communication goals.
Here is what that help wanted ad should say:
Marketing and Communications Manager
Work for a vibrant community that is tired of being a best-kept secret. The City of Roger (Arkansas) wants to ensure that every current and potential resident, business owner, and visitor knows about Rogers. We want to ensure that it is easy to find everything the world needs to know about our awesome city.
Our ideal manager can develop marketing and communication plans and develop relationships at every level of the city and community. This person must be willing to network and learn about emerging communication media. They should have marketing, communication, and branding experience. Public relations experience is a plus. This person needs to be able to lead and make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. A strong ethical foundation is required.
Applicant portfolios should include demonstrated success in blogging, communication, promotion, simple graphic design and photo editing, simple audio and video editing, simple website coding, and social media. Excellent grammar, spelling, and punctuation is required.
[insert the usual pay, experience, deadlines, and EOA verbiage here]
What does this person with these qualification cost?
This person’s base pay will cost between $50,000 to $60,000. While younger applicants will more likely have the right technical skill set, evidence of their ability to make the right decisions independently is critical. A communications professional must often act as a consultant to the city staff, lead the charge in telling the city’s story, and make decisions independently. They must make decisions under pressure and occasionally without the time to gain every approval.
For this reason, it may be necessary to hire someone with evidence of more decision-making, strategy development, and problem-solving skills — someone who doesn’t have all the technical skill set. I hope for the sake of our city’s future, that the city will choose soft skills over hard skills and choose a candidate who can learn the technical skills.
This is a tall order but if we can’t hire the right person on a full-time basis, we should be open to hiring someone on a part-time or less-than-40-hour basis. There are qualified people in our community that fit this description who do not want to work a full-time job.
Most of all, my hope is that they will diligently explore the Walmart vendor community for this individual because that is exactly the kind of savvy that Rogers needs to build community pride and engagement and sell our city to the world.