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Local leaders are Increasing use of video and social media to connect with residents

"We are Prineville."

"Where the future meets the frontier."

Local leaders have begun a branding process for the City of Prineville and recently approved a three-word logo and six-word tagline that they intend to incorporate as they reach out to the citizens they serve.

"More than anything, what we are trying to do with the brand is best communicate who the city is while paying homage to the past," said ShanRae Hawkins, the city's public relations representative. "What we are trying to do is create a brand that really represents the City of Prineville's purpose so that we are telling a story and communicating in all facets with residents, with business leaders and with potential businesses that are interested in coming to the city, so that we are saying the same thing and really encapsulating what Prineville is."

The logo and the tagline take into consideration the community's past of mining, logging and agriculture while focusing on recent growth and economic diversification, and are accompanied by a recently completed professional video featuring interviews with multiple city leaders and widely known residents.

"It was really creating a platform to articulate the city's values and voice," Hawkins says of the ongoing effort. "The goal is to position the City of Prineville as an attractive place for people who already live here, so that people get on board and say yes, that is who we are."

In addition, the brand is intended for use as a marketing tool as community leaders continue to pursue new businesses to diversify the local economy.

"This is something that economic development can use as a tool to tell the story," Hawkins remarked.

That story she references leans heavily on the pioneering spirit that Prineville has demonstrated over the years. She points out that the local railroad was built to prevent industry from passing the community by, and more recently, local officials have embraced data centers as a way to keep the economy viable.

"The first settlers who came here 150 years ago found the same things the city offers today, which is abundant land, opportunity to raise a family or run a business, and this never-say-quit mentality," Hawkins explained.

The branding effort not only seeks to tell Prineville's story, it seeks to improve communication and engagement with the residents who call it home. Hawkins acknowledges that many people tend to view city government with a degree of skepticism and mistrust, and city leaders hope to change that locally with better public outreach and transparency.

"The focus of the city's communication efforts over the past year have been to look for opportunities to share the city's message in consistent and proactive ways," she said. "We want people to be aware of programs, activities and opportunities to engage with what is happening in the city."

Much of the early success in that effort has come through the increased use of social media. Hawkins points out that the city has embraced Facebook and Twitter more than ever before and is taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to communicating with residents on the platforms. For example, the city might announce a month's worth of upcoming events, rather than use social media as an afterthought to let people know about a meeting the next day.

"We have seen very strong engagement and growth in those areas," Hawkins notes.

With a foundation in place, city staff and leaders continue to brainstorm ways to improve the new brand and expand communication with residents. Hawkins said conversations have raised such ideas as a coffee with the mayor program or an event that helps educate interested people on the inner-workings of municipal government.

"We have also talked about a community survey just to engage people about their perceptions, about how they like to receive their information. How are we doing?" she said. "These are some things that have been on the docket, but not signed off on yet."