On Thursday night, the Town of Marana was honored by the City/County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA) with two of its annual Savvy Awards. One award recognized the Town’s overall website, while the second lauded Marana’s citizen engagement efforts to solicit input on the design of the new Tangerine Sky Community Park.
The Savvy Awards, held in conjunction with 3CMA’s Annual Conference, recognize outstanding local government achievements in communications, public-sector marketing, and citizen-government relationships. The Savvies salute skilled and effective city, county, agency, or district professionals who have creatively planned and carried out successful innovations in communications and marketing. 3CMA accommodates local government organizations of all sizes and budget classes by judging entries in several different population groups.
In summer 2015, Marana rolled out its new website, adopting a sleek, modern design that allows for a more user-friendly experience. Using engaging graphics, an interface which is compatible with both mobile and desktop users, and informative content through the Marana Newsroom, the Town has capitalized on the potential to connect with citizens through the web.
The Town’s second Savvy award honors Marana’s efforts to learn what neighbors of a forthcoming park want to see at this new facility. Using a blended campaign of printed flyers sent through the mail and an online survey, Marana achieved a response rate considerably higher than previous efforts. A cornerstone of this campaign was a humorous postcard which announced that a “Dinosaur breeding facility coming to your neighborhood.” On the back of the post card, recipients then read, “Oh, that’s not what you want in your new community park? Tell us what you do want. Complete the park survey.”
This engaging approach to public engagement generated excited not only around the idea of filling out a survey, but about the park in general. Since the original postcard went out to residents, the Town has received numerous suggestions for the park. Soon, many of those suggestions will become reality when the park is completed this spring.
“When we think about communications and marketing in Marana, we always try to craft a message that’s specific to our target audience,” says Communications Manager Vickie Hathaway. “Sometimes that means we can be funny, while other times we try to strike a more serious tone. No matter what, though, we focus on delivering a straightforward, informative message.”
The 3CMA Annual Conference, at which the Savvy Awards are announced, provides Town staff with the opportunity to learn from jurisdictions across the country. The conference included sessions on emergency management and social media, gamification for citizen engagement, and community branding. Ideas garned from sessions like these will allow staff to design thoughtful and effective communications and marketing efforts throughout the year ahead.