The City of Forest Grove, population 24,600, is just 26 miles west of Portland and home to Pacific University and a vibrant business community. It's known as a gateway to the Tillamook National Forest as well as the North Willamette Valley wine country. The City believes great communication is essential for reaching the City’s goals and objectives, particularly around providing excellent customer service and upholding its responsibility as a government to preserve the democratic process. In 2019, the City of Forest Grove engaged Pitchfork Communications to help with the development of internal and external communication policies as well as a communications plan.
first completed a situation analysis of the City's internal and external communications. We reviewed existing communication policies, written procedures, branding and communication guides, strategic planning documents, and the City's various communication channels. We interviewed staff from the City Manager's Office and various city departments to determine what was working and what was not in regard to internal and external communication, what's the level of public engagement, and we developed a list of recommendations.
We then developed an internal communication policy that included the following: email, Internet and equipment policy, social media policy and media relations guidelines. We also developed an external communication policy that included the following: updated social media management guidelines (hashtags, guidelines for each social media channel, Dos and Don’ts of social media, Tips for On-Camera & Print Interviews), website policy and best practices, media relations guidelines, public-facing forms (downloads), and a press release template.
With these policies in place, we create a communication plan that outlined the City's communication goals, key audiences, tone/voice, style guidelines, brand guidelines, photo guidelines and communication goals, strategies, tactics and measurements of success. The process helped the City's communication staff realize all the various tools that were already available to them — a Style Guide, Branding Guidelines, etc. — and together determine how to efficiently and effectively use these tools to more effectively communicate to City residents.