California State Association of Counties recently awarded its Challenge Award to Madera County government’s Public Information Team for “great innovation” and “partnership with the community.”
The team regularly meets to discuss what and how the activities of the county government may be shared with the public via online social media and news releases. The team consists of a variety of executives and representatives throughout county government.
“It’s timely, right, speaking to your priorities and what is current in your community,” said CSAC executive director Graham Knaus. “And by working as a team, there’s been increased engagement internally, ownership and accountability among county staff, while ensuring consistent communication… So this team approach has really helped create county transparency in the way that it communicates with the public.”
According to the county, the team saves the county about $50,000 per year over the expense of hiring a full-time public information officer, which would cost $125,000. The deputy county administrative officer, the chiefs of staff, and departmental representatives earn monthly incentive payments for participating.
The team began its work in June 2017, developing both a communication plan and a social media policy. From then until June 2018, the county’s official Facebook page reach increased by 472 percent and likes by 45.9 percent, according to the county. The page currently has 3,670 “likes.”
Knaus presented the award, which was awarded to only 17 of 267 entries by counties, at a regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors in late November.