September 6, 2019

Oxford reaches out to residents through biweekly e-newsletter

The City of Oxford has started a twice-monthly e-newsletter to provide information on the happenings of city council and city administration.

Residents can expect the newsletter to reach their inboxes the Friday before each council meeting. This gives people enough time to  learn about what will be discussed at the upcoming council meeting, said Jessica Greene, assistant city manager and the editor of the newsletter.

Information on municipal activities such as paving projects, regulation of short-term rental housing and preventing lead contamination in your water also are included in the newsletter, she said.

“One of my tasks is to improve communication with the public,” Greene said.

She spent time researching the communication efforts of other small communities and sending out surveys to Oxford council members and residents to learn about what they wanted to know more about. From that research, she learned that people weren’t unhappy about the way the city communicated with them, but they weren’t happy either.

“One of the things we hear from a lot of people is, ‘Well, I didn't know. I didn’t know that would be discussed at council,’” Greene said.

She decided that a newsletter was a sustainable way to communicate with the public and encourage community engagement.  

City Councilor David Prytherch is optimistic about the city’s proactive communication efforts.

“This newsletter helps keep people up-to-date in a format that’s easy to read. I hope people find it as useful and interesting as I do.”

Through postings on various online sites, Greene asked residents who wanted the letter emailed to them to register with the city. In the two weeks since it launched its first edition, it has garnered about 2,000 subscribers.

Of the first edition sent to those 2,000 email addresses, about 61% of the emails were opened by the recipient. “In the industry, the average is 21%,” Greene said. “It shows it’s what people were wanting. We guessed right.”

The program is still in its infancy and can be expected to change as it grows, but Greene said she is happy it has been started.

“If our goal is to increase public engagement in our government, this is one way to do it, you know, letting people know what’s going on and inviting people to engage as citizens.”

To sign up for the city of Oxford’s weekly e-newsletter, click here.