Tag Archives: communications

How Committed To Your Constituency Are You?



I started reading Ron Fennel’s (Smyrna, Georgia, City Councilperson, Ward 7) newsletter to his constituents, and several weeks later…

The exhaustively comprehensive newsletter was nothing if not long, detailed, and ridiculously informative. Seems the Smyrna councilperson loves pounding the keyboard almost as much as another Smyrna resident, Bob Barr.

Heck, within a few graphs I found out who the police chief was from a detailed photo, noted an email address I needed, and saw at least two Facebook friends mentioned in the copy.

Now I’m all for brevity on online communications, but the darn thing was so informative I say… go for it. Inform your constituency! And don’t stop until you’re done.

But how I wish other public servants who represent us would do the same.  And comprehensively and exhaustively so is just fine by me — if you’re elected to serve us the people.

In fact, our elected servants should seek clarity and transparency of communications on their keyboards until they drop from exhaustion, you ask me. That’s what good writers do. Write to the point of exhaustion, right?

You don’t have to thrown in what you had for breakfast three Tuesdays ago, as Councilperson Fennel almost does, but if  you do not yet have a newsletter but you do have a constituency (to serve) I suggest using Fennel’s newsletter as a model… for how to improve and clarify your community outreach and communications. After all, it really is your responsibility and duty. To us.

Your newsletter certainly doesn’t have to be as long and detailed as this one, but don’t forget some photos! Videos are good. Kitchen sink, too. And don’t be intimidated at the thought of starting one. Just a few graphs and an e-mail distribution list (you already have that) will do for a first effort. Set a time expectation too. Will you publish/send a newsletter every month? Every week? If so, let your audience know what exactly you’re going to be doing. Then go do it.

You can add bells and whistles to a newsletter as you gain confidence with your writing and your multimedia inclusions. Up the quality of your photos, eventually. Follow-up on things mentioned in a prior newsletter. Add a helpful link or three.

For example, I’m hoping the next newsletter from Mr. Fennel of Smyrna, Ga. will include a link to that Instagram account mentioned in the July letter regarding some Smyrna Boy Scouts and a sidewalk mapping project. Sounded interesting!

And if you need a newsletter written, edited, and distributed for you, well… you know who to ask.

BTW… if you haven’t been to Smyrna, Georgia lately you should go. Do a drive about. Snoop around over some pretty real estate. Place looks great.

Twittering Through The Big One


Imagine this scenario… there’s a “real” pandemic and you’re charged with acquiring 5000 laptops for your company so the entire company can work from home – given that the country’s been moreorless quarantined by now. Your people aren’t coming into your company’s physical spaces, your offices or warehouses, sprawled all over the place in 10 different cities.

But wait. Office Depot, and everywhere else for that matter, sold-out of laptops a week ago. Who you gonna call? You’d call Agility Recovery Solutions. They’ve got your laptops. And your servers, your monitors, your workspaces, your cabling, your satellite dishes… all by the truck load. And of course the generators you’ll need to run all that stuff on too. Heck, knowing the good folk at Agility they’ve probably got your coffee hot and ready to go, and already know whether your people take cream or sugar.

But if you are a business continuity manager worth your salary you’d have already established a relationship with Agility Recovery Solutions as part of your disaster relief/business continuity plan, right? Right!


At their Atlanta facility open house on May 13, 2009, Agility’s Operations Manager, Chandler Smith, told me that he had taken a rather panicky call from someone looking for 5000 laptops during the recent swine flu, er, “media outbreak.” The scenario of needing lots of  temporary gear is not slightest bit far-fetched when people and businesses feel threatened, or are in an actual crisis or disaster-related situation.

Also at the Agility open house yesterday, I spoke with Jeff Jacobson of Oodalink. For my geek pleasure, Jeff demo’d a communications center that fit in a TSA-approved carry-on case. This was a portable, satellite-based, broadband wireless network in a box – complete with battery power. Available from Agility too.


The satellite/GPS component in the kit is from Inmarsat, and you can watch a cool video about connecting one of those puppies up here. Easy as pie. Even I could do it… with a couple of years of training. 😉 And by that time, maybe Oodalink will be making the kit in a nice shade of pink too, for a very reasonable price. But I diverge…

A disease-based pandemic may not necessarily impact terestial broadband infrastructure; however, a Katrina-scenario sure can. And who wants to have to stop Twittering in a crisis? Not me!

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s FAILURE To Communicate



NOTE: Atlanta City Council members can’t really be expected to communicate what they don’t know. I heard from District 9’s councilperson, Felicia Moore, today Dec. 2nd at 1pm that she knew nothing of fire station closings in the city, BUT that the Mayor Franklin could close stations without Council approval. Or notification for that matter. (As she did with Station #7 earlier this year.) So this post should really be titled Atlanta Mayor’s FAILURE To Communicate. With her council or her citizenry.

ORIGINAL POST: We citizens of the City of Atlanta have a better chance of being alerted to a terrorist’s bomb in India than we do to the proposed closing of an Atlanta fire station. This time, the ax is being waved over the head of Fire Station #23 on Howell Mill Road, near the HEAVY INDUSTRIAL AND RAILYARD AREA, let me repeat that in case anyone doesn’t get the HAZARDOUS WASTE POSSIBILITIES… HEAVY INDUSTRIAL AND RAILYARD AREA of the City of Atlanta.

Yet here in the age of the Internets, not a single communique was sent from our City Council members to the citizenry of the areas effected by this proposed closing. Only the quick action of a concerned neighbor who’d heard a rumor and got on the neighborhood discussion board alerted the constituency and the ‘hood about the proposed closing, and to the closing now being an agenda item on TODAY’S council meeting at 1pm… less than two hours away from me typing this. From the neighborhood discussion board:

Fire Station 23 found out about the proposed closing on Thanksgiving morning, so there was no prior word or discussion about it as far as they knew. They don’t have any details… no proposed closing date, no confirmation, nothing. What they do know is that this issue is on the City Council Meeting agenda at 1pm TODAY. The meeting can be seen on the local city government channel. Someone thought it was also viewable live on the internet, so if anyone can find it, please post it.

Agenda is posted here: http://apps.atlantaga.gov/citycouncil/agendas2.htm Due to the incredible number of items on it, I still haven’t found it mentioned. If anyone can isolate where it is, please pass that along.

After the results of today’s meeting are known, the area neighborhoods/neighbors can better organize/start efforts to rally for Fire Station 23 staying completely open.

Not unbelievable, but inexcusable. Hell, Station #23 services the very railyard area of Atlanta that burned so spectacularly in Gone With The Wind. If Broke Atlanta closes station #23 and it all burns to the ground for real this time again, I’ll alert the media on Twitter I suppose. You can find the commemorative plate on eBay here.

UPDATE: Someone from council person’s Claire Muller’s office returned my call about this matter. She too could not find an item on today’s agenda directly related to Fire Station #23, although she did say such an item could be “buried” somewhere. Such as in an item about “budgeting.” Imagine that. She promised to ask around and find out if such a proposal would fall under the sphere of the Finance Committee or the Public Safety committee. And call me back, as she promptly did with my initial phone call to Muller’s office. Close the sunroof; pigs is a’flyin’.

LATEST: Kathy from Muller’s office called again. To let me know that Councilperson Muller knows not much about this whole matter. That Muller had just heard chatter, same as the ‘hood. That it’s likely an “administrative” issue and not a “legislative” one. She passed the buck to the Mayor’s office and told me to call the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Greg Giornelli. At this point, I think I’ll let some paid journo take over the matter.

VERY LATEST: The Atlanta fire people weigh-in on the matter. It’s true. They’re going to shut-down Fire Station #23. In 30 days! Pray no hazardous waste EVER comes through this town, Terminus, again. Scary stuff. From a Battalion Chief’s email to the community:

We were notified on Thanksgiving morning that Station #23 will be closed within the next 30 days due to the budget cuts. I am currently in contact with my Battalion Chief and the Fire Chief as to providing you and the other community groups with the most accurate information. Chief Coxton (my BC) has offered to meet with you or answer any questions that you may have.
Here is the e-mail that I received from him:…

Captain, you may direct any question or concerns to me and I will keep the Fire Chief informed. Please provide our citizens with my cell phone number and email address. Also, if a community group or NPU would like for myself or Chief Cochran to attend one of their meeting just let me know. Additionally, provide all citizens with as much factual information as possible, share the information from our meetings. Do not report to citizens that you do not know anything, we want to share as much information as possible.


Bernard Coxton, Battalion Chief
City Hall East
675 Ponce Deleon Ave N.E.
Suite 2001
Atlanta, GA. 30308-1807
(404)853-7060 Office
(404)227-7396 Cell.
(404)853-7061 Fax
bcoxton@atlantaga.gov <mailto:bcoxton@atlantaga.gov

Three cheers to the Atlanta Fire Department for bothering to communicate willingly with the people they serve. So deeply sorry that our bloated, broke city government can’t move them into the Mayor’s communications department. They not only know how to put out fires, but how to use email and cell phones in the digital era.