City newsletter aims to keep residents informed

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Hattiesburg officials are reaching out to more residents to keep them up to date on city matters with the recent release of an email newsletter. The first one was sent to recipients who subscribe to the Hub City’s current newsletter service.

Samantha McCain, the city’s Chief Communications officer, oversees the bi-monthly publication. She said Mayor Toby Barker is using the newsletter to reach more residents.

“A transparent view is a high priority,” she said. “We want everybody to know what’s going on in their neighborhoods, at the neighborhood level as well as the city as a whole. This is just one more touchpoint.”

The newsletter, titled, “City News for You,” uses different sections to talk about the city’s various activities. The first one included articles from Barker, City Council President Carter Carroll, a story about the city’s Traffic Department, featured employees and lists of new ordinances passed by the City Council and infrastructure activities around Hattiesburg. Also, a calendar of upcoming activities was added.

“One of Mayor Barker’s five goals for the year is to tell our stories – past, present and future, McCain said. “A part of that future is what’s currently going on and how we are going to continue to tell this story is rooted in the newsletter. The goal is to reach one more group of people that might not be reached.”

McCain said the city is using social media to keep residents updated.

“We push out about three or four pieces of content daily on social media,” she said. “We get our highest rate of engagement, our highest reach through social media. That’s not all we’re doing; we’re at neighborhood meetings, we’re knocking on doors with flyers and we are trying to use every avenue of communication that we can.

“This newsletter is kind of an all-encompassing piece. We like to use it to allow our Council members to talk about what they’re doing. We’ll also start using pieces of information from our directors and let them tell their story about what they’re doing. We’ll also drill down and really start telling the meat-and-potatoes stories of our employees. We find that we get a lot of connection with people in the city.”

The calendar provides useful information for anyone who wants to get involved in Hattiesburg events, McCain said.

“For anyone to say that there is never anything to do in Hattiesburg, they are not looking hard enough,” she said. “Using that outlet as another opportunity to boast about the great things that are happening. It’s just using every avenue to let people know where we are. I think you’ve see than over and over again in this administration.”

The newsletter is available for anyone who wants to receive the email, McCain said.

“It is just one more avenue connecting people where they are,” she said. “It’s for anybody and we hope to see it grow.”

Signup is available on the city’s website (hattiesburgms.com), Facebook page or by sending an email to McCain at City Hall (smccain@hattiesburg.com).