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Congratulations! Your community has just attracted a major investment from a well-known company!

Now your publicity engine will kick into gear as your economic development department issues a news release to celebrate and exploit the good news.

But then what? If you wait until another big event happens before communicating again, you could wait a long time. In many municipalities this is exactly what happens. As a result, external communications for investment-attraction purposes are infrequent, reflecting the (out-dated) view that people would only be interested in headline news.

The world has changed. Today’s best practices, which we refer to as “Economic Development 2.0.”, demand that investment-attraction strategies are supported by ongoing, frequent communications utilizing a variety of online channels.

Daily or weekly updates should be used to keep stakeholders, prospects and residents informed, both on the good and the bad news. Posting information on all channels makes it easier to manage municipal brand perception, especially during a weak economy where layoffs or plant closures can make good news sparse.

Think you don’t have enough news?

While the big announcements are a natural for creating news, many other topics can also provide a reason for staying in touch with your readers, including:

  • Small announcements,
  • Upcoming and/or past events,
  • Participation in events, trade missions or conferences,
  • Start of new initiatives,
  • Completion of plans or programs,
  • Council approval of an initiative,
  • Blog updates,
  • Business success stories,
  • Awards won by local businesses,
  • Updates on stats,
  • Training programs,
  • Business support programs,
  • And so on!

Keep in mind that “content” for today’s web-browsing site selectors is by no means restricted to words. Photos, graphics and videos are becoming barometers of high website standards in the eyes of site selectors.

In the era of web 2.0, economic developers have the opportunity to use a many channels to disseminate all their news. A dissemination strategy should be created to document how often news is created, in what format, for which audience, which channel should be used to distribute it and what the publishing workflow process is.

If you operate multiple websites, such as a site for economic development, tourism, recreation, library, museum and your main municipal site, make sure that all sites have the ability to inform their respective visitors about their own news as well as common updates.

Now more than ever, economic-developers must take a leadership through communication to promote all the great things that their communities are doing to be proactive, to foster growth, to help existing businesses, to ensure people are being trained and working. Encouraging commentary and inviting the community at large to share their good news and their thoughts is one way to demonstrate this leadership and to foster a spirit of working together.

Lastly, always invite feedback and track visitor stats to see the impact of your communications!

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