The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

City, schools skip how-to on Courier's new community outreach tool


The logo for the Courier's new online Plainfield 'microsite'.
There was no representation from either the City of Plainfield or the Plainfield Public Schools at last night's citywide informational on the Courier's new community outreach tool, its Plainfield microsite.

I am told the District's community relations person intended to come out but was kept on a District project at the last moment, making it impossible to attend.

Both Plainfield beat reporter Mark Spivey and the Courier's general manager and editor Paul Grzella were on hand to outline the microsite's benefits to the community and to answer the questions of the attendees, among whom was a heavy sprinkling of the regular Plainfield bloggers (Bernice, Olddoc, Maria and Dan, as well as Lamar Mackson, who publishes the PCTV advisory board's blog).

Spivey had sent an email invitation to his Plainfield contacts several weeks ago, giving the details of the event, and was eagerly anticipating who might attend. Besides the bloggers, folks came out representing FOSH, the YMCA, the Drake House and Historical Society, the Plainfield Public Library and the Friends of Muhlenberg, all of whom were excited at the prospects of broadening their community outreach.

The Plainfield microsite (see here), which has been up since September (see my sneak preview here), is a truly revolutionary tool for any Plainfield organization to get out the word about its activities, plans or offerings of interest to the wider community.

For everything from notices of theatrical productions to sports team schedules, from solicitations for charitable causes to the explication of public policy initiatives, and all sorts of notices from the City and the school district, the microsite offers a free and easy-to-use outlet to get the word out about what's going on in Plainfield.

Grzella pointed out that Spivey, who edits the microsite, culls items posted to it for both writeups as new stories to appear in both the print and online editions of the paper, and as brief items to be forwarded to the person who assembles the 'Community News' page for the print version of the paper.

After the lambasting (unfair, by my lights) both the Courier and the Ledger had to endure at Monday's Council meeting, I thought that what Grzella and Spivey showcased was the perfect tool for just those critics -- a totally self-empowering tool for those who feel Plainfield's 'good news' stories get short shrift to put in their own 2-cents-worth by posting their own online news AND PHOTOS at any time of the day or night from their computers.

When asked by a participant about the scarcity of 'Plainfield' items on the community briefs pages, Spivey said could only recall receiving ONE such brief from the City in the past year. Wardlaw-Hartridge was cited as an example of an area institution that is making good use of both the microsite and, by extension, the print edition of the paper, to reach out to the widest possible audience with news of importance and interest to its constituents.

This is a wonderful opportunity for both the City and the schools to get the 'good word' out about what is going on in Plainfield of interest to its residents.

Let's hope they will be able to get up to speed on this valuable new tool as soon as possible.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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6 comments:

Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Dan: for months I have been mulling over how to bring together a "Plainfield Good News" session - to involve everyone doing good things in the City - churches, mosques, the one temple, fraternities, sororities, charter school, day care and pre-school centers, food pantries, the Symphony, Crescent Concerts, Swain's Galleries, Jack & Jill, Recreation, YWCA, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Neighborhood House, South Second Street Youth Center, PAL, block associations, Scouts, Frontiers, Rotary, there are probably a hundred more. First thing I'd like to do is compile a "directory" of activities for youngsters - to counter this idea that nothing exists - and then maybe hold a "Good News Plainfield" meeting, perhaps with Paul and Mark, someone The Ledger, any professional p.r. people in the City. I'll be glad to start getting contact information from anyone interested. The YMCA will serve as host. My email is bookshelfr@verizon.net.

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

Dan, are you going to include links to all these microblogs if and when they get started? I hope so!

Blackdog said...

After the vitriolic statements issued by Jay Jefferson Cooke of the Courier News directed towards the Plainfield Governing Body, the Police and the community . . . why are you surprised at the turnout?
We need sane rational people in charge, not highly charged emotional citizens, (I take it he is a Plainfield resident?) spouting irrationally about doing things and spending monies, even if the efforts do not pay off, just so Mr. Cooke can feel safe!
I personally do not want to feel safe, I would like to be safer!
How do we do that you ask? Concentrate on arresting and prosecuting gang members and family members who harbour them!
In Va I believe, the local authorities turned over to the Feds any drug crime with a weapon . . . Federal time is hard time with no time off for good behavior . . . you get five years, you do five years!
I had a Sensei who would always remind me that when you give in to anger or fear, you have already lost!

Anonymous said...

Pat, you may wish to get in touch with Donna Morris who works in the Annex bldg of city hall as she has been working for the past 3-4 months meeting with exactly these agents you've identified (and more) to pull together this list of information. It would be a shame to duplicate efforts when there is an opportunity to combine energy/resources.

We have had meetings at the YMCA so I'm really puzzled why you would not have this group on your radar.

Pat said...

To Anonymous at 9:12. I know about Donna Morris and, as chairman of the board at the YMCA, am glad that our CEO is involved in Donna's Youth Council and hosts meetings in our building. My idea was perhaps related to her project, but aimed to get the good news about Plainfield into the media - not providing activities for young people, but getting some attention to all the good, even amazing, stuff that happens in the City. If Manville rummage sales deserve ink in The Courier, classical music at Crescent Avenue and interesting displays at Drake House and Gospel choirs at local churches, new homes built by Habitat, the handicapped-accessible apartments created by Home First, on and on, should receive some attention, too.

Anonymous said...

Why doesnt the city have a Public Information Officer to do this? Wouldn't that be his/her job?