Despite the immense challenges the communications team faced, it could keep lines of communication open with the public when needed most.
From September 25—three days before Hurricane Ian struck—to October 25, the city’s alert web page received more than 180,000 visits. There were also 170 listens to the city’s information podcast through Spreaker.
The communications team was incredibly active during that time:
- Producing 14 press releases, 10 media releases and facilitating media engagements with more than 75 news outlets.
- Posting more than 140 tweets, 200 Facebook posts, and 80 Instagram posts, generating more than 2.5 million impressions and nearly 400,000 engagements.
- Providing immediate and accurate information to residents by fielding at least 2,000 calls through the emergency call center. The Call Center handled more than 5,000 calls and the city had over 900 evacuations conducted during the emergency response.
“We were able to reach people when they needed information the most,” Heid said.
With the storm now passed, the communications team continues to find new ways to engage citizens. A refurbished website features brighter colors, a more modern look, and a dramatic drop in total web pages to streamline information and resources. An added emphasis on media outreach leads to more positive coverage of city programs. And it increased direct communications with citizens, primarily through targeted emails.
“We’re putting together a strategic communications plan that leverages these outreach tools,” Heid said. “We can now think about highlighting the best parts of our community to attract business and just show residents what an amazing place this is to live.”
The North Port Communications Division is a recipient of the 2023 Granicus Digital Government Community Engagement Award for their communications response efforts during Hurricane Ian. The team acted quickly to launch multi-platform hurricane response campaigns, providing the main line of communication for thousands of residents as they made important and potentially life-saving decisions.