Returning with an armful of awards, Buncombe County had another successful run at the annual North Carolina City & County Communicators (NC3C) awards reception. This year’s haul totaled four awards for the Communication and Public Engagement (CAPE) team, including two first-place wins. CAPE placed in the following categories:
“This team really puts great care into building strategic connections. These awards are just a small reflection of the skills, talent, and expertise that this team holds,” exclaims CAPE Director Lillian Govus. “Community is at the heart of everything we do. If we aren’t making our community aware of what all is happening in Buncombe County, then we can’t empower our residents to help shape our outcomes.”
Providing trustworthy information and increasing transparency were to goals of the social media campaign for the 2022 midterm election. “The big strategic goals were about humanizing the work of elections… Having a behind-the-scenes look into the elections warehouse, polling place setup, and Board of Elections meetings through Facebook, Instagram, and engage.buncombecounty.org helped Buncombe County residents see the real processes,” explains Communications Specialist Angelica Tyler.
This project also created awareness, engagement, and excitement with a contest to design an alternative “I Voted” sticker. “It was great to see the kids' faces light up when they were recognized at our Board of Commissioners meeting,” says Communications Specialist Kirby Rucker.
Director of Election Corinne Duncan says she’s grateful for the effort and outcomes of the campaign, “The ability to communicate about elections in a way that celebrates the right to vote is critical. Our department is lucky to have support that helps put the correct information in the spotlight and spark joy while they do it.”
Community Development Specialists ZaKiya Bell-Rogers and Leonard Jones are definitely the hosts with the most, and now they have the hardware to prove it. Tapped In is a 30-minute radio show on WRES that focuses on community-oriented issues ranging from early childhood education to the property value appeals process. “Knowledge is power, and when you know better you do better. The show is broadcasted from a Black-operated station that reaches the marginalized community,” states Leonard.
ZaKiya says the show was born from the pandemic as way to get creative on keeping the community in touch with County resources. “Radio, podcasting, and YouTube became very useful. It is so important that all of residents have an opportunity to see and hear what is happening in their community,” she explains.
If you haven’t yet listened to Tapped In, you’re missing out as CAPE Director Lillian Govus can attest, “Just tune in one time, and you’ll see how special it is to have Leonard and ZaKiya hosting this program. Together, they create a program that is fun and informative, and you can’t help but smile while you’re learning something new.” Don’t miss an episode, check out Tapped In’s Spotify archive here.
Eye for design
Website Administrator Josh Meduri had his hands full with a total revamp of the tax and property record website. Understanding the assignment and having great partners in IT’s custom developers, he knew the importance of this website for the public, and together they leaned into making it accessible, informative, and engaging. “Paying taxes is never fun, but it’s obviously vital to having a healthy functional government and community. Making the process easy was the most important goal. Secondly, we have some amazing auxiliary sites that help you learn a huge amount of information about your specific property, its value, the multitude of County services that are near your property, and much more,” he explains. “I really admire the people that I work with on projects like this. They are excited to make things that make websites and services that our community and neighbors actually want to use.”
Lillian reinforced how critical the redesign was to serving our community: “Our goal is to make those frustrating processes as simple as possible. Josh, along with the help from IT and fellow web administrator Jeremy Twiggs, really put our ‘customer,’ AKA our residents, first and foremost in this redesign.”
Tipping the scales
Each year, Buncombe County allocates $100,000 for 20 grants of $5,000 each that help tip a nonprofit toward success in its community-driven missions. Governments don’t often see themselves as storytellers. Part of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars is demonstrating how that money is directly affecting our community. When we think of transparency, it’s often numbers, dashboards, etc. This article helps demonstrates how government can showcase transparency through more engaging and relatable formats. “Dan Hesse is our behind-the-scenes person focused on storytelling, and his passion is unparalleled,” Lillian explained. “Not only does he help unpack complex topics like finances, but he’s usually the mastermind behind all the great headline puns.”
Congratulations to this year’s NC3C winners, Buncombe is proud of the innovative and exciting ways you engage with our community.