Best Community Engagement

Central Florida county taps social media experts for dialogue with constituents

In a bid to end a ‘monologue’ approach to citizen outreach, Mayor Teresa Jacobs gains the help of online influencers to spread news more broadly and solicit feedback.

2014 State of the County Social Media Ambassadors Campaign- Logo

Orange County, Fla., officials had grown tired with the seemingly dismal flow of county government information. Press releases and local event listings were posted online with the hope that the public would notice them. This year, however, they did something about it. With Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ 2014 State of the County address as a focal point, a county communications team marshaled a local group of “Social Media Ambassadors” to help her better communicate the year’s successes in transportation, technology, arts, and other aspects of Central Floridian life. 

Ten local ambassadors—people with large followings on social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—were selected to increase audience engagement and public awareness in a pilot program centered around the mayor’s public address, themed the Year of Transformation. Participants were provided with messaging and digital artwork and were invited to take part in a branded hashtag campaign using #SOC2014, #YearofTransformation, and #OCTransformation to spur a two-way conversation between government and constituents. 

The program’s success exceeded all expectations, with nearly 1 million total online impressions in the week leading up to and including the mayoral address. Facebook impressions grew by 12,959 percent and engagement by 971 percent. Campaign hashtags became trending topics on Twitter in the local market. Orange County government wins top honors in the Best Community Engagement category of PR Daily’s 2014 Digital Awards for its ingenious use of local online talent to help reach and engage hundreds of thousands of county residents.

Congratulations go to Ann Marie Varga, communications manager; Nadia Vanderhoof, public relations specialist; Katarina Dos Santos, public relations associate; Justin Braun, public relations coordinator; Sharnita Marshall, communications assistant; Emmanuel Tormes, special assistant to Orange County Mayor; Toria Coughlin, graphics assistant manager; and Rena Seibert, graphic designer. 

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