Reaching the Right People at the Right Time

I joined other Council members and senior staff in a communications workshop arranged by our Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan and Mayor Alice Finall. The impetus for this workshop was the need to coordinate communication to the public from Mayor and Council and the municipality on all major projects and events in which the District is involved. Improving communication with residents and the community has been a priority for this Council and municipal administration, particularly in the past three years.

We learned that key to good communication is the ability to "reach the right people at the right time" and that good communication should be:
  • strategic
  • consistent
  • timely
  • build on strengths and successes
  • proactive
  • reflect best practices
  • prioritized
Good communication should also be open and timely with the goal of reaching the broader community but also focusing on groups who are most affected by an issue, event or decision. Good communication practices help an organization such as local government to anticipate questions and issues from the public with facts.

It is also important to get enough information, the right information at the right time. Issues/questions raised by Council members included:
  • communicating more effectively with youth
  • knowing how and when to use the media
  • focusing on key messages
  • staff's role in information-sharing
  • managing the truth (fact vs. fiction)
The workshop concluded with a survey that asked us general questions about the importance of communication at various levels of the organization and will be used to inform the development of a District-wide communications strategy.

I found the workshop to be valuable and informative and I thank staff for their part in arranging this learning experience. I hope that what we learned will translate to how effectively the District, staff and Council members communicate in the future with North Saanich residents.