Friday, June 21, 2013

Milton Turns To Youtube For Citizens Government Academy

By Nicole Dow; Milton Neighbor

Milton residents wanting to learn more about the workings of their local government can tune into a new monthly video series on YouTube, created by the city’s communication department.

Jason Wright, Milton’s communications manager, launched the Citizens Government Academy series last month, providing YouTube viewers with two-minute glimpses into different aspects of government operations.

In the process of developing Milton’s strategic plan, public input suggested the city needed to do a better job building relationship with citizens, Wright said. The idea for the series was developed in response. With the new series, he hopes to reach a different crowd than the usual residents who come to city hall for meetings.

“We know our residents are on YouTube,” he said. “All the research that we have points to [the fact] that they’re extremely educated. They have computers. They have cell phones. And people with computers and cell phones, one of the biggest places they go to is YouTube.”

The series is meant to reach people on their terms, Wright explained.

“We’ve got so many busy residents,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of things going on in their lives, so why not give it to them where ever they are, whenever they want.”

Though only two videos have been posted, Wright believes the series appears to be well-received. About 60 viewers watched the initial video in the first month, which is likely more than the turnout would be if the Citizens Government Academy was a class where residents met weekly at city hall, he said.

Wright has drafted a long list of topics he would like to cover with the series and also wants to touch on hot topics that might come up over time.

“I hope that it can be a really nice wealth of information to take away a lot of the mystique of government,” he said. “There’s a perception that government is this kind of monolithic, difficult entity … and at the city of Milton, we are really trying to separate ourselves from that perception.” The video series is just one avenue to reach residents, Wright said.

“We do very well on Facebook,” he said. “We do very well through our email newsletter sign-ups. We’re reaching more than one in 10 residents in our email newsletter.”

He said the city is lucky to have progressive leaders who encourage trying new ways to interact with residents.

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