Town information ‘audit’ steers North Stonington group’s strategy

Town information ‘audit’ steers North Stonington group’s strategy

NORTH STONINGTON — A new group in North Stonington plans to use everything from social media like Facebook and Twitter to more conventional means such as mail to keep residents informed.

The Communications Committee held its first meeting in January and quickly got to work.

The committee will help keep residents in the know about town events, emergency notices, referendum dates, press releases and similar information.

“I know this will disappoint people, but we won’t be sharing information on the ham and bean supper,” Committee member Nicholas Bolt said. “Or the things in our community that aren’t specific to the town and town government.” 

The group initially did an “audit” of ways the town communicates with residents. It did this through a survey of residents who voted in the recent school building project referendum.

“We put together a survey that members handed out as people came out of Town Hall after voting,” he said. 

About 200 people responded, with most of them saying they got news about the town through social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Other avenues included the town website, newspapers and meetings, member Mark Leonard said. 

One of the ways people said they get information in town, according to the survey, is gossip.

“I thought that was kind of funny,” Bolt said. “While we can’t add to that, we hope to shape those conversations with accurate information.”

About 59 percent of respondents said they’re “somewhat informed,” while 7 percent admitted to not being informed of local issues at all. 

Thirty-four percent said they’re “very informed.”

Most respondents said they prefer to get information through email, social media and text messages, Leonard said. 

“But we want to be careful and make sure we’re able to communicate with all residents,” he said. “There are plenty of people who don’t have the internet.”

Residents said the town could do better in providing construction updates, information about security and local events, Leonard said. 

The committee has asked for money in the coming budget to send out informational mailings ahead of votes, such as a referendum.

The group plans to continue the survey, which is available at Town Hall and Wheeler Library. 

It also will establish an “online handle” for the town, called MyNoSto, an online brand across several platforms that will provide name recognition and consistency, Bolt said. 

“We would look to move forward with this and create these accounts, with the Board of Selectmen’s approval,” Bolt said. “We really want to drive traffic through social media and the web. We really want to use the town’s website more.”


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