In communications, familiarity breeds apathy.

American advertising creative director William Bernbach demonstrated his grasp on communications in notable campaigns for Volkswage, Avis, Polaroid, and Life cereal.

Here in Aurora the town has certainly proven Bernbach’s point.

Great leaders consider communication a core competence which is why I believed both Mayor Dawe and Clr. Thompson when they assured me personally that at the beginning of thisterm that with the change in communication manager that the town’s efforts would be righted.

Aside from the the filing of complaints against councilors and the cessation of insulting letters to the paper by senior staff members, see here:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/common-sense-of-humor/ this change hasn’t resulted in anything of note.

The service level for communications was reported on in page 4 of the interim report which outlines the equivalent of 4 full time staff, costing over half a million dollars a year.

Here is an extract:

Corporate Communications is a discretionary, not mandatory service, that includes corporate event management, online communications, media relations, issues management, internal communications and speech writing support to the Office of the Mayor.

here is a breakdown of those offerings:

• Web site and social media updates daily
• Execution and planning support of Corporate events
• Weekly production of Town Notice Board for local paper
• Speech writing for Mayor and Council
• Media Releases as necessary
• Development and dissemination of Council highlights
• Issues management daily
• Advertising, marketing and creative for Town

It takes the equivallent of 4 fulltime staff and costs a staggering $567,036

WTF?

Read that list of responsibilities, and then try and justify the money spent.

The town’s website is a joke, I’ve commented on it here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/what-does-half-a-million-dollars-buy/

The town is not operating with a social media policy, its efforts in this growing field have included launching a SLAPP lawsuit against community bloggers. I commented on its laughable social media accounts here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/here-she-comes-miss-communication/

and here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/some-friend-you-are/

Compared to neighboring municipalities Aurora appears to be the laughing stock of the region.

In 2011 The Town of Newmarket conducted a 2011 external communications survey: http://isurvey.esolutionsgroup.ca/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=mlK38565

Why hasn’t Aurora?

From what I could find the last Communications Plan that the town underwent was over 14 years ago.

On page 3 of the April 29th, 2003 edition of The Auroran it was reported:

In December, 1999, Aurora Council adopted a corporate communications policy, which specified the development of a comprehensive annual communications plan to facilitate the coordination of all communications channels for maximum efficiency, impact and delivery of information.

You can read the article here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?wpfb_dl=61

It also stated that a strategy for growing and maintaining a user-friendly, service oriented and sustainable Town of Aurora website.

WTF happened?

Even if you extract the web and social media components, the time spent of Press Releases that no one reads can’t possibly demand a fraction of a $500,000 budget.

In this Globe & Mail article covering ten ways to rethink marking plans in 2013 #1 is:

Drop your PR strategy if it is currently made up of press releases only. Don’t depend on news releases as your sole communication strategy. They only take you so far and don’t get you or your business involved in trending stories that make up a significant share of coverage and media placements.

The rest of the article is a worthwhile read here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-tools/top-tens/ditch-the-press-release-ten-ways-to-rethink-your-marketing-plan-in-2013/article6596262/

Great communication starts with clarity. That’s clarity about your core message and why your audience should care.

Explore anything the Town of Aurora’s communication department puts out and ask yourself if you care.

Then ask yourself how spending $500,000 on amateurish and ineffective communications align with the goals of innovation and sustainability.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh had this to say about communication:

Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

The Town’ of Aurora’s apathetic approach to communication hasn’t stimulated anyone for eons.

Unless council makes some serious decisions about the current state of leadership, or lack thereof, Aurorans will continue to hear the grunts of dinosaurs at town hall pound away at keyboards flushing away hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money.

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