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The Value of Community Relations

community relationsThe majority of work community members do usually take place in our very own hometowns.  Understanding the value of community relations allows you to grasp exactly what it takes to create a great community relations program, how to keep it running successfully, and the benefits for both the community members and companies in those areas.  With that being said, excellent communication skills are the key to whether or not prospects and community members trust you, follow your advice, or refer and introduce you to others.

Community relations specialists are responsible for developing and implementing community outreach programs including social and community awareness incentives. They work with organizations to create programs that promote an organization’s image in a positive and community-oriented way. Community relations specialists set up internal events, fairs and other community events to incorporate the organization into the community.

Brookhaven GeorgiaThe creation of the city of Brookhaven began nearly three years ago.  On July 31, 2012, Brookhaven was approved in a referendum to become DeKalb County’s 11th city.  With a population of around 49,000, it is the largest city in DeKalb County.  Today, the Brookhaven Communications Department manages the city’s reputation, serves as the voice of the city, and is the liaison between the city and the public. The communications department provides information to various stakeholder groups, including residents, businesses, media and others.  Similarly, the Brookhaven Community Development Department works with residents, developers, the mayor and city council, as well as the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to carry out long-range city planning initiatives, land development, building construction, and code compliance.

One example of the type of initiatives these departments work to advance can be seen from the city’s Latin American Association (LAA) partner.  This non-profit organization is dedicated to serving the needs of immigrants from Latin America currently living in metro Atlanta.  The organization provides a full spectrum of services and programs that help families adapt to their new country and integrate into the community.  Among some of the services, the LAA offers Latino women, men and children the tools and resources they need– including immigration legal services, English classes, emergency assistance and computer literacy courses in Spanish, among many others. Founded in 1972, the LAA is the longest serving and largest provider of social and immigration legal services in Atlanta’s Latino community. Last year, its services and programs impacted more than 40,000 individuals.

Nevertheless, if you have a small workforce or a workforce that simply doesn’t give community relations a high enough priority, you can still develop workable plans. Putting up signs or billboards to welcome people to your community has a lasting impression that takes zero employee involvement. Other programs may take only one or two people volunteering their time just a few times a year.  Another very important way to reach out to the local community is to take part in events and functions that help out a charity or organization.

Expert crisis management group, Wilson Group Communications, Inc. says, the difficult part of community relations is getting started. You have to have a plan and your plan has to be workable. Do your homework first, get everyone involved and start slowly. Formalizing a process to build and maintain good relations with people and organizations is community relations.  It’s not just a one-time event, but a long-term commitment that can pay off with substantial dividends.

 

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