Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday to spend $350,000 on an outside marketing agency to help spin the City’s messaging.
The move comes on top of City Manager Rick Cole’s recently beefed-up Communications Department that already includes public affairs officers, a marketing manager, social media manager, and video editor in a team of eight (with two positions delayed.)
The new spend sees the department pushing $1 million plus benefits in salaries/fees alone. According to Debbie Lee, Chief Communications Officer in the City Manager’s Office, “We want to encourage people to walk and bike and use their proximity to transit…These are some of the tactics for the first year. We hope to continue not just in English but multilingual to affect change in the entire community.”
“We are spending money because we are going to deliver results,” City Manager Rick Cole said. “This is 2017 and we have to invest in communication. We are a $650 million operation and we shouldn’t be nickel and dime-ing.”
Councilmember Sue Himmelrich’s reply: “My problem is you wrote to me ‘We would like to do what is known as social marketing .. using social media to influence public behavior.’
“We should be influencing public behavior by what we do in this chamber and interacting with people .. I think our staff is capable of it. I don’t understand why we are hiring an outside firm to shape how we interact.”
The Mirror will be following the issue this week. Thanks to Tricia Crane for contributing to the story via facebook.