Want to jazz up your municipal web site? Start with Explosions!

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Rarely is it that municipal websites offer up anything of great excitement. So it was some kind of wonderful to be able to watch video of the controlled demolition of the lower half of the southside stands at Ottawa’s city-owned Landsdowne Park – which took place yesterday (July 20, 2008). Video provided courtesy of the City of Ottawa website.

For sure, explosions are cool. Even somewhat lame one’s such as this (only half the stands?). But given that this is a PR-focused blog, there’s also a communications message here, albeit buried amid the carnage. Namely, that innovative organizations – public and private alike - have incredible opportunities to become content creators and distributors in their own right, and to do so in ways that are far more compelling, and even relevant, to many of their target audiences, make their sites much more desirable destinations, and which go beyond traditional text-based media.

So should organizations simply video-tape and post content such as this for the sake their, erm, incredible awesomeness?  Yes, of course. More of the same, please. But they should also do so with the same level of consideration given to any communications strategy. Meaning, of course, that they have to get it right.

For example, what is the message the City is trying to reinforce here? Is there even one? Ultimately, I would suggest that this demonstrates clear “action” being taken by the City to move ahead with its plans – whatever they are – for the Park. Sadly, a lot of that context is missing from the site – and whatever there is is very difficult to find.

Because where communications typically lets people down is when it’s more about talk and soundbites rather than the actions that often validate those soundbites, and when information is communicated without context and thought to why it’s being communicated. And when you can show something as ‘memorable’ as this, it becomes a “proof point” that will stick in the minds of residents (and voters) when elected officials are asked to remind us just why they’re there, and just what we as taxpayers are paying for. 

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