Sept. 7, 2019

Mallory Herrmann

The creative services department looking toward their second-year goals, with a presentation on their accomplishments and upcoming initiatives to the city council this week. Mark Dunning, assistant city manager, and Cheryl Nash, creative services manager, gave an overview of the work their team is doing to help keep Lee’s Summit residents informed and engaged.

Dunning referred to a 2015 communications audit commissioned by the city that showed opportunities for improvement in how the city communicated between departments (not just within them) and with the larger community. As a result of that report, a strategy was developed to improve both reactive (weather alerts, emergency services notifications, etc.) and proactive (upcoming events, legislative updates, and more).

The creative services department was created, functioning as a bridge between other city departments and community partners like the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council – as well as with citizens.

They manage social media platforms, a variety of newsletters, billboards and more – including a new podcast called the Green Street Beat.

Councilmember Rob Binney commended the team for an excellent job, particularly when it comes to social media management, where responding to comments and concerns quickly, accurately and kindly is not always easy.

Councilmember Fred DeMoro also thanked the department for an “excellent presentation and a comprehensive discussion” of their efforts. He asked how they decide which platform to choose for various items or promotions, adding that it can limit engagement if something is only published on Facebook or another channel. Some members of the community rely on press releases on the city website or in newspapers and not all information is made available there.

Nash assured him that the team does not back off on press releases just because things are going out through other media.

During their second year, the creative services department will be striving to be the best source of information about our city government. In addition to maintaining current initiatives and consistent delivery, they will look to align their communication and marketing activities to support the city’s vision and strategic goals.

New programs like a monthly snapshot of what has happened at City Hall, a public dashboard to help elected officials better communicate the progress of the strategic plan and enhancements to the city’s YouTube channel are also on their horizon. In addition, Nash also hopes to improve the LSTV streaming experience to help encourage higher viewership online (especially as more and more people cut their cable, where city government meetings are currently broadcast on the local government channel).

No action was taken by the council following the informational presentation. Councilmember Diane Forte was absent from the Sept. 3 meeting.