|Begging for Bieber|
So how is City Hall going to reach a large portion of the community and properly market their ever increasing money needs effectively? I believe that they are played out on the whole "water walk" concept due to the low turnouts last time. That plus the fact that they ended up preaching mostly to the already converted. I think Gene Goss attended a few of them. And while they will take John Harabedian's lead and attempt to hold the Police Department hostage to keep the UUT at its current record setting pace, that alone cannot be entirely relied upon. The City has never been one to put all of its guilt trip eggs into one basket. And let's face it, when presented with the choice of a likely 12% utility tax rate and keeping the SMPD, those voting could easily decide that the City is just crying wolf again and go with protecting their pocketbooks.
It really is quite the dilemma for the City. Couple all of this with the fact that the traditional ways of communicating their cash cravings to the populace have all but gone away. The Mountain View News no longer has any anywhere near the impact or respect it used to have, Bill Coburn's site doesn't post much more than fluffy press releases these days, and The Patch is in the process of converting itself into a remotely run Group On knock off. If you think about it, the only truly active hard news source in Sierra Madre these days is the one you are reading now. And for whatever reasons, the City never takes its tax marketing initiatives to us.
However, when it comes to increasing their cash intake along with gulling us into digging deeper into our pockets to make it happen, City Hall is always game. And as we will see at Tuesday evening's meeting, they do have some new marketing product offerings to discuss with the City Council. For me this is right there in my professional wheelhouse. In my line of work I use the Internet all the time to market music, artists, and whatever accompanying messages and related product ploys are necessary to increase cash flow in a business where the great green river isn't quite as full as it used to be. Most of the actual on-line work is done by brilliant kids back in the New York office, but most often the overall concepts on the projects I work are mine.
Agenda Item #4 on the City Council meeting agenda for Tuesday evening is simply called "Community Budget Survey." And in order to reach Sierra Madre's (perhaps non-existent) "silent majority" (is anyone really silent about taxes in Sierra Madre?), City Hall is going full bore into the Internet marketing game. It really is kind of cute in a way. I doubt it will work, and certainly we at The Tattler will do our very best to make certain it doesn't, but there it is. Here is the "executive summary" from the informative Staff Report:
One of the City Council's objectives under the three-year goal of "Maintain financial stability and sustainability" is to "develop, distribute, analyze and present to the City Council the results of a Community Budget Survey, including spending and revenue options." This staff report will outline multiple options for conducting this survey, with varying degrees of cost and functionality. Staff requests the two Council Members join a subcommittee with staff to develop the Community Budget Survey.
In case you don't grok City-Speak, "spending and revenue options" means rate increases. And by having two City Council Members join with City Staff in crafting what is basically a community outreach effort designed to sell these rate increases to an indifferent or perhaps even hostile populace, it will then bear the sanction of elected officials as well. Obviously the help doesn't believe that they can sell this thing all on their own.
City Staff has selected 4 finalists among the thousands of on-line marketing options out there for its effort to sell water and utility rate increases. Here is a list of them, along with brief descriptions of what exactly they do, as supplied by City Staff in its Agenda Report. I have also provided links to these on-line marketing services so that you can better prepare yourself for what is likely to come in the next few months. Oh, and check out the Internet marketing jargon. It is priceless.
EngagingPlans (click here): Urban Interactive Studio developed EngagingPlans which combines vast out-of-the-box functionality with flexible customization options, facilitating broad-scale outreach and participation by guiding people seamlessly between offline, online and mobile experience ... $1,000 to set up and $75/month thereafter. (Mod: There is also a "budget simulator" option from this outfit listed in the Staff Report. That costs $5,000.)
MindMixer (click here): MindMixer is an online platform utilized to gather ideas, review and respond to feedback, and to find solutions all in one place. Ideas submitted to the customized website receive feedback from those in the online community, who also can "second" ideas that they particularly like ...
Onboarding (Mod: love that word) $1,000 one time fee, $500 per month. (Note: Monrovia has a MindMixer site, click here to onboard.)
Vocus (click here): Vocus Inc. is a provider of cloud marketing software that helps organizations reach people across social networks, online and through media. Vocus provides an integrated suite (Mod: Love it! Integrated suite!) that combines social marketing, search marketing, email marketing and publicity into a comprehensive solution to help businesses attract, engage and retain customers. Vocus partners with iContact, the service the City currently uses for eBlasts. The Vocus platform is an overall marketing platform for the City. It includes functions to get more visitors to the website, utilize Facebook to a much greater extend (sic), get found on search engines, generate publicity and buzz for the City and its businesses, and to target messages on the various social media platforms ... Vocus cost (sic) $2,247 for 12-months.
Zwoor (click here): Zwoor provides an online survey tool. Zwoor includes customized questions, the inclusion of a logo or picture, and can work offline or online. The Zwoor Survey mobile app works on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tables, Kindle Fires, or a website browser. However, the Zwoor product does not have the capability for the community to see or comment on each other's ideas or opinions ... Depending on the package selected, Zwoor cost (sic) $200 for up to 5,000 submissions or $600 for 20,000 submissions.
So there you are. Join with the City and step boldly forward into the year 2008. Of course, in the end what drives these beauties is appealing content and product. And I am not quite certain that water and utility rate increases qualify as just that. No matter what platform you hire.
And look, if they were really smart they'd start a blog and update it daily with interesting articles that highlight and promote the City's efforts in whatever it is they think that they're doing. Obviously water and utility rate increases are not the kinds of things that appear all that sexy on the Internet, and that is where the true challenges lie. Besides, I honestly don't think they're quite capable of operating at that level.
Of course, for $200,000 a year, combined with a long term contract that includes a full time assistant and benefits, along with a new car, I could do this work for them. But somehow I don't see the City going for that.