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Comox councillor recommends communications specialist for town

COMOX, B.C. – Comox Councillor Pat McKenna believes that having a communications director working for the town would be taxpayer money well spent.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, McKenna made a notice of motion to explore the possibility.

“With finalization of budget upcoming, I’d like to make a motion for staff to include in the 2019 budget the provision of a salary to hire a communications specialist in the year 2019,” he said.

McKenna believes the person employed for this position could serve as a lead strategist to enhance the communication with the town through a creative branding strategy.

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Part of the job description would be to develop a strategy “to support the town’s vision, goals, priorities, projects,” and disseminate that regular communications to residents.

According to McKenna, the employee would be tasked with building and maintaining the town’s website, including news and information updates, while tracking the development of ongoing issues and preparing recommended responses for timely issues and announcements.

McKenna said the employee would also manage the town’s social media sites and serve as a conduit with the local press.

The employee could also work on agendas and assist with annual reports, policy development and possibly crisis communication plans.

“I see this as a 24-hour, weekly position,” McKenna said. “It’s something that’s not onerous on the taxpayer. I see it as a position that’s critically important and could be funded, not easily, but funded through our current budget. And I think it’s important that the Town of Comox moves forward with having a communication person who can lead us going forward.”

Asked by councillor Ken Grant about budget implications, McKenna replied, “It can be moved in through the budget with our one percent on the asset management plan.”

McKenna said having an employee in house compared to using a third-party communications firm would be advantageous to the town, in McKenna’s view.

“I know from personal experience that having that person directly report is a little bit easier to help with the messaging because a third party service sometimes just doesn’t know the intricacies of what’s happening day-to-day,” he said.

“A staff position is a little more engaging.”

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