Late in July, with little fanfare, the city of Grandview Heights started posting a new blog on its website. The name of it is not going to win any awards for creativity, it is called the City of Grandview Heights Blog.
I’ve been following it for the past couple of months, my general impression is “what took them so long?” Blogs are now the main venues for public relations of any business or city, along with the combination of Facebook, Twitter, and other online hangouts that are grouped into the “social media” label. With the fast pace of change the Grandview Yard development has been throwing at the city residents, it was long overdue for this blog to be born.
The Yard rules all
As anyone would expect, the blog is dominated by Grandview Yard news, a Faq, and announcements of public hearings on Yard developments. Since the announcement of the Nationwide Insurance campus back at the end of June, the city has tried to use newspaper stories to lay out the changes and strategy that the city will be following, but there is limited space a newspaper will allocate for what is essentially free public relations. This blog hopefully will keep the flow of information open with the taxpayers.
I have to admit, there was a story here in Grandview about the changes to the Stevenson parking, and the removal of trees for a re-designed intersection of First Avenue and Northwest Boulevard, that I missed. I was on vacation! Former city council president Steve Reynolds lead a group of residents in a protest about the cutting of trees for this project, even placing blue ribbons around the trees (which the city removed the next day). I still plan to try to get some comment from Reynolds about his protest – was it about the trees, or was it more about the process that the city used to fast track this plan, with little resident comment allowed?
It did seem to prod the city into holding more meetings. There have been a series of meetings to take suggestions for Northwest Boulevard Infrastructure Improvement Project ( the next meeting will be September 2nd). The Aug. 29th blog post details some modifications that the city will now use, saving a few of the trees.
Panzera being Panzera
Council President Anthony Panzera had a post with a long series of question and answers about the Yard, and how the development will affect the city in coming years. It’s a competent bit of writing, and probably hits all the points that people have been asking about the changes the city is likely to go through. He included a large photo of himself, in case you forgot what he looks like.
When he gets to the end and starts going into a long story about all the old familiar places that he used to shop at when he was young, that are long gone, I could almost hear the harps twanging as we took the soft focus drift back in time. Yea, that was as subtle as a hammer. Some people think Panzera is just too overt in his playing the political game. Others find it at least predictable, you don’t need to wonder when Panzera is trying to game you, the answer is, “always”.
Blogging has rules
The online world is filled with people linking to other blogs, quoting each other, showing images of content, and sometimes outright stealing content. The fact that it is all free to read gets confused with the idea that a physical object you are given is yours to reuse as you see fit. There are rules on the internet, and although you can go a long time with flaunting them, you will eventually run into someone who will slap you down.
Linking to somebody else’s work is fine. Taking short quotes from that work to illustrate a point in a review is fair use. However, taking a scan of a newspaper story – the whole story, not just a section – and posting it on the city blog is not cool. The story in Business First about Mayor DeGraw was a fine bit of bragging about the Yard, and it included a funny photo that made it stand out. You can’t scan the newspaper stories that you want to save and post them online like it was a scrapbook, the reporters at B.F. have this thing about being paid for the use of whole stories. I’m sure they explained this to the person at the city who removed the post from the city blog.
Here is another rule – blogging requires allowing comments from your readers. You don’t have to leave the welcome mat out for every crank with a malfunctioning caps lock key, holding comments for approval is common (that’s how I do it on this blog). If you don’t allow comments, it isn’t a blog, its just a PR release that happens to be placed on the web. I’m hoping the city realizes that it isn’t a real communication channel unless it is two way.