Staff says changing name of agency could showcase the Port better, along with new PR hire

The Port of St. Helens is doubling down on efforts to bolster public relations.

Last week, Port staff announced the agency hired a part-time public relations employee to help the agency improve its public messaging and interface strategies.

HayesThe Port's executive director confirmed the agency has even considered changing its name to better reflect its mission and wide geographical reach.

"I looked at it and the Port is growing," Doug Hayes, executive director of the Port, said Monday. "I want to be able to bring some of the messaging more to the forefront, starting with our webpage, making it more user friendly, and developing a strategic communications strategy, so we can get our message out to the people so they know what we do."

Hayes said despite the Port's website revamp within the past two years, it still needs work.

Gina Sisco, who grew up in Scappoose, was hired for the 20-hour-a-week position. Monday marked her first day on the job. The Port budgeted $20,000 for the PR position, which will be tasked with developing a strategic communication plan, helping facilitate more public interaction, and acting as a media liaison, Hayes said.

He noted the PR representative is expected to "develop communication and drive conversation with the public."

"One thing we don't want to do is develop in a vacuum, we want the public's feedback," Hayes added.

Commissioner Larry Ericksen praised the decision to hire a PR specialist.

"Gina is a gal that has lived in the community for years and years and years, she knows the Port district," Ericksen said last week. "I just couldn't be happier. We think of this as an expense for the Port, but really, when we get this going, it's going to bring in money for the Port." Ericksen

The Port may be considering the possibility of a name change in an effort to better market and rebrand the agency. In conjunction with the Port's mission of creating jobs and bolstering Columbia County's economy, Hayes said the agency's name could more accurately reflect what it does.

"I actually proposed it," Hayes said of the name change and rebranding.

The executive director said he pitched the idea, albeit not formally, "to make [the name] more inclusive of the county and what we do."

"We're not just St. Helens," Hayes said, noting a different name might "make it more inclusive of the geography we're responsible for."

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