This year's conference focused on communicating well during difficult situations. Attendees learned about creating key messages, sharing information in crisis situations, effective media interviews,de-escalating conflict, and more.
Communicating in a Crisis
When a crisis hits, your city needs to be prepared to respond quickly and effectively. Residents, employees, reporters, and the general public will be listening closely to everything the city says—or doesn’t say—and your personal credibility and the city’s reputation are at stake. Attendees of this session explored crisis scenarios that your city might face and the important role you play as an elected official when a crisis happens in your community. They discussed potential responses and learned effective ways to shape and share key messages with the public and the media. They also found out about League resources that can help the city plan for and respond to crisis situations.
Proactive Media Relations: Tips for Getting Your Message Across
As elected officials, you are in a unique position to highlight the good things happening in your community. And, at times, you’ll need to be adept at sharing not-so-good news, too. In this session, attendees heard from a panel of communications experts and city leaders about what motivates the media and the importance of building working relationships with your local reporters. They got pro tips to help them feel more confident in their interactions with the media and recognize what makes a good story. They learned how to organize their thoughts and share their story to get the coverage they want!
Bridging Divides: What to Do When People Disagree
What do you do when emotions run high? This session offered tips on how to de-escalate difficult situations and move from conflict to effective solutions on challenging public issues. Attendees learned to identify what other people actually need to move forward even when they aren't saying it. The session also covered how to articulate what one needs in way that makes difficult people responsive. It also explored ways to manage high emotions and develop solutions that get implemented because they integrate the needs of everyone involved.
Communicating and Engaging with Community
Effective public engagement is important to build relationships, trust, ownership and commitment. However, doing it well is challenging work. Attendees explored the fundamentals of authentic, meaningful, and sustained community engagement and evaluated their city’s current outreach and engagement work. Then, they talked with other city officials about practical ways to connect with their residents and other stakeholders to move their community forward.