Registration Open & Keynote Speakers Announced

Registration for the Winter 2015 conference is now open.  The registration packet is available here and should be completed & submitted according to the enclosed directions.  Deadline for registration is November 13, 2015.  Hotel information is available on the conference page under “Accommodations.”

We are excited to announce that Zach Ward, the Executive Producer and Resident Instructor of DSI Comedy Theater will lead a hands-on and interactive session focused on the art of effective communication, active listening, and thinking on your feet. His presentation will open the conference on Wednesday afternoon. Zach will focus his presentation on effective communication techniques in a fun and interactive atmosphere. More information on this exciting presentation will be sent out later on the listserv.

We are also excited to announce that North Carolina State University’s Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues, Ms. Anita-Brown Graham, will be giving a keynote address to the conference on Friday morning. You can also expect economic and legislative updates, and many more intriguing and engaging general and concurrent sessions that the Winter Conference Planning Committee is hard at work developing as we speak.

2011 Summer Conference Planning Meeting is February 25th

2011 Summer Conference Planning Meeting is February 25th

(From NCLGBA Second Vice-President, April Campbell)

The Conference Planning Committee will meet in Archdale Public Library on Friday, February 25th, at 12 Noon.  Lunch will be provided.  If you’re interested in serving on this committee for the 2011 Summer Conference, please contact April directly at acampbell (at) archdale-nc (dot) gov.  Responsibilities of the committee include selecting topics, scheduling speakers, as well as facilitating sessions.  If you would like to suggest speakers or topics, but are unable to attend the meeting, please let me know.

2011 Summer Conference Preview

The North Carolina Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) 2011 Summer Conference will be held July 13th – 15th at the New Bern Hilton Riverfront Hotel.

The conference will begin Wednesday afternoon and end by noon Friday.  It will be an excellent conference with important topics and information, mobile sessions, and a riverfront networking reception.

The New Bern Hilton Riverfront is located in the heart of the downtown historic district, with convenient access to shops, restaurants, as well as trolley rides from the hotel through the downtown area.  The hotel rate is an awesome $94/night, and this rate is being honored through the weekend.

Click here to visit the hotel website

Click here for more information on New Bern


Communication Strategies for Local Government Professionals

Communication Strategies for Local Government Professionals

Susan is the Public Information Director for the Town of Cary. She can be reached by email, susan (dot) moran (at) townofcary (dot) org.

Building & Maintaining Mutually Beneficial Relationships

  1. Always tell the truth.
  2. Be accurate, timely, and complete.
  3. Get on the same page internally before going external.
  4. Treat the Court of Public Opinion as seriously as the Court of Law.
  5. Know your publics, monitoring them regularly for attitudes, issues, and errors then doing something about it including and especially altering your approach as necessary to achieve desired outcomes.
  6. Communicate early, often, and consistently.  Rumor and distrust will fill the vacuum created by a lack of communication, so bring publics along with you as you learn things.  Don’t wait until the novel is written to let them read it.
  7. When you feel the urge to stop or postpone communicating, that’s a sure sign you need to communicate and soon.
  8. Shape the debate through pro-activity by breaking the news, telling your story first, especially when you’ve got a problem, made a mistake.
  9. Ask for permission every time; there’s no good will savings account to draw from.
  10. Give face time.
  11. Show and tell.
  12. Say you’re sorry.
  13. Smart and good looking.  Your best spokesperson may not be in the C-Suite.
  14. Write and use communications plans that include key messages and measurable objectives.
  15. You already have a reputation, relationship, and image.  What are they and are they what you want?

KEY MESSAGES

INTRODUCTION

Key messages are broad yet meaningful statements that articulate the organization’s position or perspective on the high level issues surrounding a communications topic.   Key messages go beyond basic facts and speak to commitments, beliefs, values, motivations, perspectives, and other aspects of the organization’s culture that are driving an action or position.

Key messages should be developed for all external communications—scripts, articles, comments to the media, professional presentations, letters, e-mails.  Typically, there are between two and four key messages for any issue.

DEVELOPING KEY MESSAGES

  1. Look beyond the facts and at a very high level to determine which of the following (or other) big picture issues are primary in the matter at hand:
    1. Safety, health, welfare
    2. Quality of life
    3. Protecting/Impacting the environment
    4. Responsiveness
    5. Pro-action vs. Reaction
    6. Following/Supporting/Enforcing laws, ordinances, regulations
    7. Spending money/using resources wisely
    8. Secrecy/Lack of trustworthiness
    9. Employee performance
  2. For each big picture issue, review the General Messages of the Organization, the Town’s Mission Statement, Statement of Values, Council Goals & Initiatives for relevant ideas
  3. For each issue, draft a compound or complex sentence that clearly and completely represents the organization’s statement on the issue
    1. Be confident, clear, and definitive
    2. Express regret or sympathy or apologize if necessary
    3. Use “we” statements
  4. Run your draft key messages by the PIO or DPIO
  5. Memorize each key message you’ve developed
  6. If for an interview, do not let the interview end without delivering the key messages

SAMPLE KEY MESSAGES

Red Light Cameras

July 12, 2007

Cary has 3 goals for the program: (1) reduce accidents; (2) help keep traffic flowing well by not allowing intersections to be blocked; (3) economically and efficiently expand police’s ability to enforce traffic safety laws 24/7. 

While Cary’s program has always been about safety and never about making money, we’re glad to report that it’s operating at a level that does allow for a meaningful financial contribution to be made to our public schools.

Reclaimed Water Misconnection

August 2, 2007

There’s nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our citizens, and we’re glad to report that there should be no long-term health risks to any of our families who drank the water.

We regret the inconvenience and concern this situation is causing our reclaimed customers, and we appreciate everyone’s support as we do what’s necessary to ensure that everything’s functioning properly.

Regarding lawsuits, that’s not our focus; we’re working hard to do everything we can to find out what happened and do whatever’s necessary to keep it from happening again.

Cary Growth

August 16, 2007

Cary‘s moderate yet healthy growth rate is right on track with the rolling average target set by the previous Council in 2003.

People are drawn to Cary because of our reputation for providing great services and a high quality of life, which includes doing a good job of planning for and servicing new homes and businesses.

Questioning the Town’s Application and Interpretation of Procedures

August 16, 2007

At the Town of Cary, following processes and regulations is something we take very seriously, pay very close attention to, and are generally very good at.

As we do whenever concerns are raised, we will conduct a thorough review of this project to ensure that the matter was handled appropriately, and we’ll provide a thorough response to questions once our analysis is complete.

GENERAL MESSAGES FOR THE TOWN OF CARY

Refer to these concepts when developing specific key messages:

  1. Our organization—the Town of Cary—is proactive.  We plan and manage for tomorrow.
  2. The Town of Cary has/seeks/values a high level of citizen involvement/input/ participation/feedback.
  3. The Town of Cary is committed to preserving and protecting our finite natural resources.  We are committed to preserving the environment.  We lead all other cities in NC in preserving and protecting natural resources.
  4. Our organization is efficient and economical—Town services are a great bargain for the price.  We are lean.  We are fiscally sound, financially very well managed.
  5. Our operations are open/transparent.  We have nothing to hide.  We follow the rule of law, support the democratic process, believe in the necessity of government-—that there are things we can accomplish better as a group than on our own as individual property owners.
  6. Our organization employs the best (responsive, effective, professional, expert, innovative, caring) staff in all of local government.
  7. Our organization adheres to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, fairness, truth, and accuracy. We conduct our professional lives in the public interest.
  8. Cary, NC has the highest quality of life of any place in the state, thanks in large measure to the work of our organization.
  9. Cary, NC is safe, consistently ranked as the safest large city in North Carolina and in the top 10 of safest cities in America.
  10. Cary is an attractive community.
  11. Cary is the Technology Town of NC.

PRACTICAL WRITING TIPS

  1. Fight the blank page by starting with simple sentences to list each point.
  2. Answer yes/no questions with “yes” or “no,” then explain.
  3. Avoid “depends.”
  4. Use first person active voice.
  5. Include key messages as well as facts
  6. Only say what you know:  Never: “I think,” “we believe,” “I’m not sure, but…” “maybe”
  7. Proof from the bottom up and with another set of eyes.
  8. Words matter, so make every one count.
  9. Organize and present the points using the inverted pyramid:

MAKING PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS

Interacting with citizens–whether as an invited speaker or as the host of an information session—is an important part of ensuring the success of many Town projects. How these interactions are managed by staff can have a significant effect on citizen understanding of and appreciation for the complexities surrounding projects, especially given that most citizens lack familiarity with the regulations governing municipalities as well as the specific processes employed by the Town of Cary.  In making public presentations, staff should work to earn the group’s confidence, trust, and respect by representing the Town professionally, articulately, and courteously and making citizens feel that their comments and concerns are being heard.  The following checklist is offered in hopes of guiding staff towards delivering effective presentations.

BEFORE THE MEETING:

  • Verify your knowledge of the Town’s position on all the issues that might come up at the meeting.
  • Make sure the PIO knows about the meeting.
  • Generate a list of likely frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) with concise answers.
  • Design and launch (or update) a web section on the project that includes, at a minimum:
  • An explanation of how the project fits into Council’s goals, how the project will improve the quality of life for Cary citizens
  • A project timetable
  • A project description
  • FAQ’s
  • A contact email and telephone number
  • Write/outline your presentation.
  • With groups who have already expressed concerns about the project, avoid high-tech presentations, especially those that require you to operate cumbersome equipment and cause you to have to dim lights or use a microphone.
  • ALWAYS spend a few minutes at the beginning getting everyone at the same point by providing background information.
  • Push the Web as a great resource for more information.
  • Make sure that your presentation fits your audience.  The words you choose should be easily understood—not filled with technical terms, acronyms, jargon.
  • Meet with everyone on the project team to review/rehearse the presentation.
  • Get your business cards together for distribution at the meeting.
  • Prepare maps, charts, and other displays as needed.
  • Avoid white backgrounds
  • Use contrasting colors
  • Orient displays for TV (landscape as opposed to portrait): 3 units high by 4 units long
  • Prepare a one-page Fact Sheet on the project for your audience.
  • Prepare other handouts as needed.

If you’re hosting the meeting, also:

  • Prepare an agenda.
  • Determine if refreshments will be necessary and make arrangements as needed.
  • Prepare nametags for participants if the event involves mingling between staff and the group or, at a minimum, make sure all staff wears “Town of Cary” lapel pins.
  • Prepare and distribute invitation letters.
  • Advertise the meeting as appropriate:
  • News Release
  • Web Calendar
  • Arrange well in advance for Buildings & Grounds, TS, and Video services.
  • Make sure you have a staff member designated as the event’s “greeter”; the greeter should be stationed at the event’s entrance to explain how the event works, answer questions, and register participants if necessary.
  • If you’re an invited speaker, also:
  • Request an advance copy of the agenda.  If one is not available, find out at a minimum who will be speaking immediately before and after you.
  • Request a list of questions and/or issues that the group wants you to address.
  • Determine exactly how long you are expected to speak to/interact with the group.
  • Get good directions to the meeting place.
  • Confirm the exact time you need to arrive.

DURING THE MEETING:

  • Begin and end according to schedule.
  • Record (or have someone do it for you) any questions or issues that need to be followed up on after the meeting.
  • If it is a structured meeting with an “audience” but no audio system, repeat questions before answering them to be sure that everyone heard the question.
  • Begin with:
  • “Good morning, good evening…”
  • Thank the group for the opportunity to share your important information with them
  • Introduce all speakers, sponsors, team members.
  • Keep coming back to why this project is necessary to improve Cary citizens’ quality of life.
  • NEVER predict or offer your opinion on what Town Council or other government agencies will or might do.
  • Stick to the facts; don’t presume or guess.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to correct misinformation.

AFTER THE MEETING:

  • Immediately notify the PIO of any media contacts.
  • Prepare answers to any new questions.
  • Add them to the web.
  • Forward them to the person(s) who asked and/or to the group.
  • Email key staff any outcomes, issues.
  • Put a mechanism in place to follow through with any promises you may have made to the group, such as updating the web section with new information or creating an electronic mailing list on the issue.

BRIDGING THE GAP

  • Be personable: be a REAL person, not a bureaucrat.
  • Don’t hide behind a table or podium when speaking if you can avoid it.
  • Introduce yourself to people as you encounter them; shake hands.
  • Find something in common to discuss with them, even if it’s the weather.
  • Move towards people when you’re answering their questions.
  • Smile.
  • Give a compliment.
  • Use good manners:  “yes ma’am, no sir, please, thank you…”
  • Whether you’re a man or a woman in a small group meeting, stand up, shake hands, and introduce yourself as new participants arrive.
  • Take off your jacket before speaking to an audience of “regular citizens”; roll up your sleeves.

Picture of the Day

Picture of the Day

David Montgomery, Budget Director for the Quinault Indian Nation of Taholah, WA, is helping close out the 2010 Winter Conference with a discussion of their development of a “Budgeting for Outcomes” based initiative.  Among the more enlightening parts of his presentation was this visualization of what we already knew, but don’t mind have a laugh with.

How is your budget office perceived?

The Winter Conference has been a great opportunity for budget professionals from throughout North Carolina to develop skills, prepare for the challenges of the coming fiscal year, and develop better working relationships with fellow practitioners.

We look forward to seeing everyone at our 2011 Summer Conference, July 13-15 in New Bern.

AGA Performance Management Conference in Baltimore on October 13-14

AGA Performance Management Conference in Baltimore on October 13-14

The Association of Government Accountants (AGA) invites you to attend the 6th annual Performance Management Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 13-14, 2010.  This year’s event will focus on the proven successes by governments who have created performance management systems and also identify those not-so-successful activities for you to avoid.  The quality of this year’s keynote speakers is exemplary.  They include:

Beth Blauer, Director, Governor’s StateStat Office, State of Maryland
Shelley H. Metzenbaum, Ph.D., Associate Director of Performance and Personnel Management, U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Harry Hatry, Distinguished Fellow, Director of the Public Management Program and Principal Research Associate for The Urban Institute
Jonathan Walters, Governing magazine correspondent and author of “Measuring Up: GOVERNING’s Guide to Performance Measurement for Geniuses and other Public Managers”

Continuing professional education will be provided and a variety of concurrent sessions covering data reliability to Baltimore CitiStat will be offered.  Please check the AGA website at http://www.agacgfm.org/pmc_2010/index.htm for updates to the program agenda or contact Evie Barry at ebarry@agacgfm.org or 703-684-6931, extension 324.

Summer Conference Presentations Now Available

Most of the presentations from last week’s NCLGBA Summer Conference are now available for download at the following link:

Summer 2010 Conference Resources

We still have a few presentations that have not been forwarded to us and will be posting them as soon as they are submitted.  Work also continues on the videos we took of select workshops and will be posting those for online viewing over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Excel Proficiency Tests

Earlier today, a member of the NCFinance listserv sent out a request for examples of tests jurisdictions are using to judge applicant and employee proficiency in Microsoft Excel.  There are a couple of different tests and samples available online that you can use as the basis for developing your own:

http://www.business.uiuc.edu/oim/Short_Course/ExcelProficiencyTest.pdf

http://www.jaxworks.com/test.htm

http://www.snowcrest.net/dsp/Excel_Q.htm

If you want an idea of specific features that make excellent gauges of proficiency when developing an Excel test, please consult this article:

http://askjonpaul.com/2007/04/29/test-of-excel-skills-in-finance.aspx

To improve your proficiency in Microsoft Excel, make sure to attend the Excel workshop at our upcoming NCLGBA Summer Conference, July 14-16. For more information on registration and hotel reservations, please visit our conference page.