Friday, June 08, 2001

What's new in Newport?

Residents know; newsletter goes to households

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The city's new monthly newsletter, now receiving praise from residents, owes its existence to the gas and water crisis of last winter.

        Newport Now, assembled and edited by Michele Todd Ralston, the city's new public relations/marketing director, provides residents and business owners with timely news about what's happening in the city that will affect their lives.

        “We talked about this a year ago, and had an independent media contractor put together a plan to effectively communicate with the public, city employees and the board of commissioners,” said City Manager Phil Ciafardini.

        But he said the “defining moment” for the creation of Newport Now was last winter when a ruptured water main sent water into Cinergy gas lines and disrupted gas service to more than half the city.

        “We immediately began a system of informing the public, through the media and through five informational fliers distributed by our firefighters,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “Obviously, residents didn't like what happened when they had no heat in their homes, but we had almost no complaints from people ... (who felt) they weren't being informed on the latest news during the incident.”

        He said it became clear to city leaders what needed to be done. At a City Commission retreat a few months later, the decision was made to spend some of the money in the city budget earmarked for marketing for a director and a monthly publication.

        John Williams, a Newport resident who retired in February after 16 years as director of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, said he was impressed with the first two issues of Newport Now in May and June.

        “I really like it,” Mr. Williams said. “I must commend the city for this effort in keeping residents up-to-date on what the city is doing and where it's going. And (the publication) is done very well, very professionally.”

        He emphasized that most people don't attend City Commission meetings or watch the meetings on cable television. “This is a way to get the latest information to the residents, and it's information people need because it deals with important issues like the sale of the water system and garbage collection,” he said.

        Ms. Ralston formerly worked for WLW-TV (Channel 5) and the radio stations at Miami (WMUB) and Xavier (WVXU) universities and holds a master's degree in journalism and broadcasting from Miami. She said she has received several e-mails from residents complimenting the city administration on the publication.

        “The plan is to publish every month, and we'll also have the information on the city Web site,” she said. Some 8,000 copies are printed each month, and in addition to being delivered to city's homes and businesses (by city employees from the fire department, public works and water works) copies are being sent to individuals and organizations including the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tri— ED (Tri-County Economic Development), and nearby cities.

        The publication, which Ms. Ralston said will probably be six pages each month including pull-out information sheets such as the schedule for the Newport Farmer's Market, costs $1,265 a month.


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- What's new in Newport?
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