The City of Peterborough has taken a big step—they are on Twitter and tweeting @CityPtbo. We wanted to find out why they took this step now, and the back story on how it came together. Heather Watson, Councillor Services Assistant with the City of Peterborough, explains in this interview.
PTBOCANADA: This is a big step for the city. How much planning and logistics went into deciding to activate this account? Has it been in the works for a while? Many internal conversations? What were your main concerns in joining Twitter?
WATSON: There has been a group working on a social media policy since the Mayor was elected in 2010. After much collaboration, a social media policy was adopted by Council in the Spring of this year. The policy and accompanying procedure explored the use of various social channels by each of the departments within the City. Concerns discussed and addressed were the timely responses to postings, regular monitoring and security (password management, who has access etc.).
The Mayor's Office was not involved in the working group, however we did have input once a draft policy was presented. Our concern was to ensure that members of Council would be free to maintain social media profiles and respond to their constituents in a way that they saw fit. We also wanted to know that staff who managed the accounts were able to respond to requests made through social channels in a timely way to provide good customer service.
PTBOCANADA: Who will be looking after the account and will it be monitored during weekdays only? Will there be interaction with Tweeters (aka "tweeps") who have questions/concerns?
WATSON: Any City department or program can start a social profile. As in the case of the City of Peterborough Twitter account, staff are assigned to be responsible for the management, monitoring and responding to queries. The @CityPtbo is managed through Corporate Services staff member Sharron Hayton. The account will be monitored Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. The purpose of the account is to relay messages as it relates to media releases and information that is already public. Interaction with tweeps will be responsive to questions and to refer them to the right channel.
PTBOCANADA: What is the main "mission" of the account?
WATSON: To get messages out to City residents in a timely way and to respond to customer service inquiries.
PTBOCANADA: Do you see this as another step in the city embracing the age of social media? Mayor Bennett, of course, has been on Twitter for a while.
WATSON: Yes. This is something that Mayor Bennett has been encouraging since being elected. Now that a policy has been adopted by Council, citizens can expect to see more engagement through social channels. He was the first Mayor to tweet in the City of Peterborough, has held two Twitter Town Halls to engage citizens and he proclaimed June 30, 2013 as Social Media Day in the City to recognize the important role that social media plays in our community.
PTBOCANADA: Will it be used in times of emergency for the city?
WATSON: This account will be used to get timely information out to citizens during times of emergency.
Note: Watson notes there are a number number of City departments/programs that currently maintain Twitter sites. Here they are:
Peterborough Airport: @PtboAirport
GPA EDC: @PtboEcDev
Peterborough Fire Services: @PtboFireRescue
Peterborough Museum & Archives: @OntheHill3
Peterborough Lakefield Police: @PLCPS
Peterborough Sport & Wellness Centre: @PSWC1
Peterborough Transit: @PeterboroughTr1
Peterborough Utilities: @ptbo_utilities
Riverview Park & Zoo: @RiverviewZoo