Sechelt promises ‘no spin’ communications

Sechelt’s communications manager got unanimous council support for a new communications plan and updated policies around communications and social media that were presented at the Oct. 3 council meeting.

Julie Rogers told council the plan is designed to shift the district from a “reactive” to “proactive” approach to engaging with residents and make better use of social media while ensuring district documents are in “plain language.”

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“Spin means lie. We don’t do that,” Rogers said.

“There’s no hiding… As an employer, as a parent, as a friend, we always appreciate it more when someone says, ‘Oops, I screwed up’ rather than, ‘Oh no, no, no – it wasn’t my fault.’ That is what’s going to guide our communications.”

Rogers also told council that one of the elements of the social media policy is listening to citizens as well as getting the district’s message out.

“We’ve stated right in our policy that we’re not ever shutting off the comments,” Rogers said. “I know there’s been some talk in other municipalities that got tired of being criticized, so they only use [social media] to stand on their soapbox and broadcast.”

Rogers said the overall communication plan builds on a foundation of improved internal communications.

“If we’re not communicating with each other, we can’t possibly communicate effectively with the public,” she said.

In her written report to council, Rogers also said the plan and associated policies lean heavily on the ethics guidelines of the Canadian Public Relations Society, and will also provide a way to “build the District’s reputation as a desirable place to live and do business” and “increase citizen engagement and knowledge of the public process.”

Coun. Darren Inkster said he’s looking forward to the implementation of the plan because it would be an avenue for clarifying issues that come up from the public or candidates during election cycles.

“Hopefully this plan moving forward will help deal with those kinds of election-issue things ahead of time,” he said.

Inkster also said he appreciates the “For the Record” section on the website that Rogers launched earlier this year.

Coun. Mike Shanks called the communications plan “the first step in changing Sechelt’s image for a considerable amount of time.”

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