Branding consultant outlines results of citizen survey

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
A community survey done by the firm that developed Elk River’s new brand, Powered by Nature, has been completed.
The Citizen Satisfaction Survey was taken via Internet by 432 Elk River residents.
Steve Chandler of ChandlerThinks, who led the city through the branding effort, outlined the results for the Elk River City Council recently.

Powered by Nature, part of Elk River's new branding initiative.

Chandler said the city’s newsletter, The Current, is an effective communications tool. The majority of survey respondents rated The Current as a good/excellent publication and read most of the issues.
The survey found that 98 percent of the respondents had access to the Internet at home while 44 percent subscribe to Charter Communications for cable service. Respondents were more likely to receive the Elk River Star News (86 percent) than the Star Tribune (44 percent).
Almost nine in 10 respondents have visited the city of Elk River’s website at www.ci.elk-river.mn.us. “This really grabbed my attention. Just this alone tells you your website is a very important communication tool for your constituents,” Chandler told the council. Ninety-eight percent found the information to be either very useful or somewhat useful. Out of date information was one complaint.
Regarding social media, Facebook was the hands down favorite over Twitter, with 62 percent of survey respondents who reported visiting Facebook on a regular basis compared to Twitter at 5 percent. A third said they visit neither Facebook nor Twitter. From a national average standpoint, Chandler said Facebook is at about 73 percent, and Twitter, 10 percent.
Chandler said he wouldn’t let that be a deterrent for being on Twitter, as he still feels it’s important. YouTube is also a strong marketing opportunity, he said, though not one used by the masses, according to the Elk River survey.
Elk River Parks and Recreation was the most “liked” city department or amenity on Facebook (22 percent), followed by Elk River Economic Development (12 percent), Elk River Energy City (7 percent), Elk River Fire Department (5 percent), Pinewood Golf Course (5 percent) and Elk River liquor stores (4 percent).
Just over half of respondents said the best method to obtain city news, information and programming was through the newspaper, followed by city publications (20 percent), the city’s website (16 percent) and cable TV (3 percent). Respondents want to receive city information via publications (33 percent), e-mail (27 percent), Facebook (20 percent), word of mouth (13 percent) and website (10 percent).
Almost half had contact with an Elk River city employee regarding a city service in the past two years. Ninety percent described the quality of service as excellent or good. Only 1 percent said it was poor.
“City employees are delivering the goods,” Chandler told the council.
The highest-rated city services included fire service, sanitary sewer service, and police service. The lowest-rated city services included planning services and road conditions.

‘Headlines’ from the survey
Here are what Steve Chandler of ChandlerThinks described as the “headlines” from the survey.
•The city of Elk River does a really good job of delivering its services to the public. Overall they appear to be happy.
•The city website is a strong tool for communication and relevant information. Maintaining it to ensure accuracy and relevance should be a priority.
•Social media is a nice source for reaching your audiences if used effectively – especially Facebook.
•Your audience still likes printed communications. It still matters to them.
•If you’re going to provide customer service channels through your website or social media, accuracy and timely responses are important.
•The city of Elk River should consider another survey, using this one as a benchmark, every 2-3 years. Source: City of Elk River Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Summer 2011, ChandlerThinks

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