Inter-Departmental Correspondence

County Manger’s Office



June 10, 2009


June 16, 2009







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Mary McMillan, Deputy County Manager



Communications Program Update



Accept this report.



Commitment: Realize the potential of our diverse population.

Goal(s): Civic engagement – including voting, public service, charitable giving, volunteerism and participation in public decisions of important issues – is uniformly high among the diverse population.



In March 2007, your Board approved the implementation strategies to address recommendations made in the County Reorganization to improve communications. The strategies, developed by Internal and an External Communications work groups, was initiated by the adoption of two guiding principles: (1) Effective external county communications needs to reflect the mission, vision, values, beliefs and goals through a consistent message to enhance the identity of the organization with residents and stakeholders; and information needs to be accessible, current and complete; and (2) Effective employee-directed communications needs to come from the top of the organization, be consistent, provide opportunities for two-way dialogue and considered integral to effective operations.

The priority recommendations were to:

    Shift the County’s internet focus from department-based to customer-driven, facilitate ease of access “clickability” using common language and identifiable icons;

    Establish a County Webmaster to improve web presence and e-government opportunities;

    Build capacity on the web;

    Create online service and employee directories;

    Conduct periodic surveys with the community and employees;

    Create an online county and community calendar for events;

    Ensure translation of important county collateral;

    Develop communication policy and style guide and press release templates;

    Install informational kiosks for way-finding;

    Redesign new employee welcome materials;

    Coordinate the County Communications Committee for ongoing improvements and plan implementation;

    Provide regular communication training opportunities; and

    Establish countywide public affairs association.



Over the past two years the County Manager’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Affairs has:

    Initiated the departmental phase-in of the Comcate citizen request system, Access San Mateo, to provide 24-7 direct resident access to online service and program questions/answers;

    Piloted Peak Democracy, an online citizen “town hall” SMC Forum to engage residents in community dialogues;

    Secured GovDelivery to facilitate the efficient delivery of incoming and outgoing targeted communications via email, helping to make the county more accessible and accountable.

Hired a County Communications Manager to oversee the county communications program. Those successful efforts include:

    Collaborating with ISD to post timely and useful news and information on the County’s home Web page;

    Assisting production of five videos: County programs and services; John Maltbie: Lessons in Leadership (ICMA/Pass-it-on series); the Youth Commission and adult involvement; the County’s “green” efforts; and jail planning;

    Producing a series of half-hour shows for Peninsula Television highlighting programs and services and avenues for residents to participate in the community;

    Researching and writing a profile of San Mateo County for the annual budget and repurposing as a stand-alone report;

    Collaborating with the Economic Urgency Initiative workgroups to create a one-stop resource on the Web for those seeking information about food, shelter, housing assistance programs and other resources during this time of growing need;

    Compiling a library of photos of County personnel, landmarks and buildings for use by the news media and in County publications and on the Web;

    Creating a comprehensive guide to Bay Area media, local community groups and other resources for use in publicizing County programs and services;

    Assisting departments in public outreach activities and media relations; and

    Organized trainings to improve communication, including press release and speech writing;



Funding for the ongoing Communication Program and improvements was approved as part of the FY 2008-09/10 County Budget.