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Posted: March 11, 2014 10:00 p.m.

County to ramp up social media

Work is already well under way to bring Newton County’s website into the current age, but county leaders are also planning to build a social media presence to connect with more citizens.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted last week to pursue an agreement — not to exceed $20,000 annually — with GovComms, an Evans, Ga.-based company specializing in helping governments connect to citizens.

The company would not only build up the county’s social media presence and work with the new website, but it would likely also act as a public and media relations arm, writing news releases and speaking on behalf of the county on some issues, Commissioner Lanier Sims said at last Tuesday’s board meeting.

"The first thing in marketing I think about is you have to tell your own story. No one else can tell our story but us," Sims told the board.

Sims said the county has been in need of a communications professional for some time, and he said he hopes the effort will help the county reach more citizens, particularly on the west side of the county. Sims said not everyone has the same cable TV company nor the same utility provider, so it’s hard to effectively spread the word to everyone.

The proposed cost from GovComms was $1,750 monthly, which would be $21,000, but Chairman Keith Ellis said county officials would continue negotiations to bring the cost below the $20,000 the county budgeted.

Sims said the improved social media presence would be helpful when the county is undertaking efforts like the current Hub Junction zoning overlay, which would change development and land use rules in the area around U.S. Highway 278 and Ga. Highway 11. Previous overlays took place on the Almon and Salem road corridors.

Because of the profound changes those overlays make, the county makes efforts to reach as many stakeholders in those areas as possible. Sims believes a better social media presence will only help.

He said an improved and concentrated social media presence would have been helpful during the recent winter storms to give residents a single place to turn for road closures and other storm information.

Part of the social media strategy will likely call for advertising through Facebook, Sims said. GovComms recommended $500 a month. Sims said a typical marketing strategy to build up social media presence is to pay more up front and then tail off Facebook advertising substantially later on.

The board will make a final decision at a future board meeting. For more information about GovComms, visit govcomms.us.

Fishing tournament

Chairman Keith Ellis is hosting a fishing tournament in his neighborhood this Saturday to support Brayden Eavenson, the son of Brad Eavenson, the Newton County firefighter who died in a one-vehicle accident in February.

The tournament is open to the public and will take place at the lake in the Lochwolde subdivision, which Ellis says has some good-sized bass. The tournament will start at 7:30 a.m.

People interested in participating in the fishing tournament need to sign up by Wednesday and should contact Ellis at 678-625-1201.

‘Vampire Diaries’ payments

The county received two checks totaling $1,500 from "The Vampire Diaries" TV show for filming during the past couple of weeks. The funds went into an account set aside for county employees, according to Chairman Keith Ellis.

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