The Town's program covered much ground in Year 1, pushing out more than 800 pieces of original content. This included stories you won't see anywhere else, videos and photos of Middletown and so much more.
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CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 712-2221 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLIC AFFAIRS CELEBRATES ONE YEAR
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (SEPT. 10, 2021) – The Town of Middletown’s public affairs program is officially one year old and what a year it was.
In the past 12 months, the program led by Public Affairs Officer Matt Sheley has helped create an even more positive view of Middletown, both locally and across the region.
From Day 1, the program sought to affirm all the good in Middletown, whether it’s the work of our residents, the business community and all the Town has to offer.
When the final count was done, Public Affairs pushed out more than 800 pieces of original content in the past year. When weekends are removed, that accounts to more than three stories, videos, graphics and more a day specifically about Middletown.
“I think the program really showed its worth from the first day,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said.
“The first assignment was a ceremony about Sept. 11 at the fire station that was organized by the firefighters. That’s something important that everyone in Middletown should be aware of, but without Public Affairs, it probably would have gone past unnoticed. It was like that time and again and I am very, very proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
Among the priorities and projects completed in the past year, none were bigger than a total overhaul of the MiddletownRI.com website. The prior site was stale, outdated, unfriendly and didn’t really convey what a dynamic, beautiful place Middletown is to live, work and play.
To help achieve its goals, the Town contracted with CivicPlus to handle the backbone of the website while Public Affairs was responsible for overseeing the layout, content and daily maintenance of the site.
After a lengthy design and review process by a group of Town employees, the new site went live on March 31. It’s drawn rave reviews both from the community and across the country. CivicPlus staff have also told the Town they use MiddletownRI.com with other clients as a leading example of what their websites should and can be.
The new website includes a calendar dedicated to municipal and community events, the Middletown news of the day, a “Middletown Shares” space that acts as a clearinghouse for major local events, meeting videos and so much more.
The Town also ramped up its usage of social media to help push out important messaging live as it was happening. The Town actively uses Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to proactively inform the public about the latest around Town, whether it’s good news with the budget or photos from the first day of school.
Importantly, the Town also launched its “Middletown Today” newsletter, which was published for the first time ever in October 2020. The goal of the monthly mailer was to keep those who might not use social media or the website connected to the community.
Wrapped around all this work is the idea of “branding” Middletown better. The goal is to show all that’s happening across the town, items that might not get coverage elsewhere. Anecdotally, this messaging is paying dividends and helping enhance the overall perspective of Middletown.
There’s also a media engagement function that is integral to the Public Affairs post. For any good public affairs officer, the goal is always to manage the news rather than letting the news manage us.
Over the past 12 months, the Public Affairs office was largely successful with these efforts, casting Middletown in as positive a light as possible. There were also several opportunities to broaden Middletown’s typical reach, including pieces in the “Boston Globe,” “The Providence Business News” and “National Public Radio,” among others.
“Looking back, I think we accomplished quite a bit,” Sheley said. “Middletown truly is a special, dynamic place and I feel really good about helping our residents, businesspeople and visitors learn more about the community. It’s especially rewarding, living here and playing an active role in the evolution and development of Middletown.”