Timely, accurate, comprehensive information
on Maui County’s legislative process.
Last updated: Oct. 27, 2015 by the Office of Council Services.
V I S I O N
To inform the community about Maui County’s legislative process.
M I S S I O N
To provide timely, accurate and comprehensive information in a consistent
and professional manner, on key issues, policy decisions and actions taken by
the Maui County Council and councilmembers.
- Communication Plan
- Chair’s 3 Minutes newspaper column
- Press releases
- Opinion columns
- Mass mailing
- Social media
What is a communication plan?
A communication plan is a living, breathing document used to align public information activities with the vision and mission of the organization. The plan provides strategies, guidelines and procedures to follow when providing information to target audiences.
The plan will help enhance public awareness of the Maui County Council’s legislative work and identify ways to effectively communicate, removing barriers of misinformation and misconceptions about government. It should encourage citizens to connect with councilmembers and get involved in the legislative process.
The plan may be assessed and updated if necessary under the direction of the Council Chair.
The Communications Team
The Communication Director, appointed to foster open government and enhance public involvement, will be primarily responsible for maintaining and updating the Communication Plan and shall continuously seek the most effective ways to communicate the council’s priorities, news and achievements and facilitate education and outreach initiatives.
The Communication Director and staff appointed by the Director of Council Services shall be part of the Communications Team. The team will serve as liaisons between the council and the public, including members of the media, and shall undertake projects to enhance the council’s accessibility to the public.
Contact: (808) 270-7665 firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Council Services, 200 S. High St., Wailuku, HI 96793
MauiCounty.us is the official online news and information website for the Maui County Council. The site will include agendas, press releases and blog posts relevant to councilmembers’ legislative work.
The website is powered by a content management system called WordPress and features a responsive layout to allow users to view the site on a variety of devices. MauiCounty.us is intended to complement content already provided on the administration-maintained mauicounty.gov website. The council’s other social media tools (including Facebook and Twitter) help make the public aware of content on MauiCounty.us.
Request an update
Requests to update any page on MauiCounty.us may be directed to the Communication Director.
Granicus – Coming soon in 2016!
Granicus is an online legislative content system designed to make government records and public meeting videos easily accessible for the community.
Chair’s 3 Minutes
“Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column published in The Maui News to provide updates on county legislative matters. Articles must be submitted by noon on Tuesdays to be published in the Sunday paper.
The following OCS guidelines should be observed:
- The column’s primary purpose is to generate public awareness and testimony about upcoming meetings.
- Occasional secondary purposes include reporting on past council and committee meetings, expressing opinions on council business and providing educational or historical information relating to the county’s legislative branch.
- The column shall adhere to general journalism standards – reporting on who, what, where, when and why.
- Each column should have a concise, one-sentence opening paragraph (“lead”) to explain the column’s newsworthiness.
- Each paragraph should be limited to one or two sentences.
- When opinions are expressed, they should be supported by objective facts.
- The column is limited to 500 words.
- When a committee chair authors the column, the preference is for the column to focus on matters within the committee’s jurisdiction.
- When the council chair authors the column, the preference is for the column to either highlight an upcoming council meeting or upcoming committee meetings. The council chair may also write about intergovernmental initiatives and other matters relating to the county.
- The Communication Director shall consult with the Director of Council Services, the Supervising Legislative Analyst, committee analysts, the council chair and other councilmembers on newsworthy items coming up in scheduled meetings.
- Chairs of committees that meet during the week the article is expected to be published are given priority in an effort to timely report on issues on upcoming agendas. Should there be a conflict concerning who will be featured, the council chair will make the final determination.
- If a councilmember wishes to take advantage of the column to highlight a committee item he or she intends to schedule in a meeting, the Communications Team must be notified immediately.
Timing for agenda posting and submission deadline is usually challenging. We request at least one week lead time prior to the Tuesday deadline.
- In the Communication Director’s absence, the Supervising Legislative Analyst shall appoint another Research Section staff member to fulfill the Communication Director’s duties for the column, likely either a Communications Team member or someone assigned to the relevant committee.
- Participation by committee chairs is not mandatory. Councilmembers can opt to not take advantage of this column.
- When the author is someone other than the Council Chair, the Communication Director must receive bullet points, related documents and other reference material to initiate the draft for review. Submission of completed drafts is also welcome.
- The Director of Council Services and a member of the Communications Team shall review the piece.
- After getting final approval from the author, the piece must be submitted to The Maui News in plain text via email at email@example.com before Tuesday at noon.
Here are some tips that may be considered for a “Chair’s 3 Minutes” column:
Ethics: OCS staff time, MauiCounty.us and the council’s social media tools are public resources that may only be used for public purposes.
To review already published “Chair’s 3 Minutes” articles, visit MauiCounty.us/category/chairs-3-minutes/
A press release is usually a time-sensitive request, which must be written in clear and simple language formatted as a typical newspaper story. OCS standards follow “AP style” as outlined in the Associated Press Style Book (apstylebook.com).
Procedure and types:
The office’s priority is to issue a document that is factual, accurate and relevant by the agreed deadline. Here’s a guide on how to get started:
- Press release at the request of a committee chair
Typically, this type of press release publicizes an upcoming meeting to invite public testimony or share a committee recommendation on an item.
- The Committee Analyst works with the Communication Director in drafting the press release after consultation with the Committee Chair.
- The Committee Secretary and Supervising Legislative Analyst review.
- After receiving approval from the councilmember, the Communication Director sends out the release.
- Press release arising from a PAF or Council Chair
If a councilmember other than the Council Chair wants to issue a press release on a topic outside of his or her committee jurisdiction, a PAF must be requested.
- A Legislative Analyst or Legislative Attorney works with the Communication Director in drafting the press release.
- The OCS Director reviews.
- After receiving approval from the councilmember, the Communication Director sends out the release.
In special cases, consultation with multiple analysts or county departments, such as Corporation Counsel for litigation or legal matters, may be necessary to ensure accuracy of the release.
Benefits of issuing a press release through OCS
- Multiple reviews ensure fact-based, accurate information will go out, building a professional image.
- Adherence to AP style will increase chances for media outlets to publish the release. (Note: If media entities don’t need to rewrite the article, they can issue it sooner.)
- Publication on MauiCounty.us and official social media sites.
OCS style tips (based on AP style) for press releases
- Press release titles: Avoid using the entire committee or councilmember’s name in the headline. Instead, use “Committee” or the councilmember’s last name. Keep the title as concise as possible. The lead will provide the opportunity to include the proper names. Terms like GET, TAT, OKs, MEO or Panel may be used.
- Organization names: When using acronyms, spell out the full name the first time it is mentioned, then use the acronym afterwards. There is no need to put the acronyms in parenthesis and quotation marks. Example: The Hawaii State Association of Counties (“HSAC”) issued a statement. HSAC representatives attended the ball.
- When mentioning names of organizations, it is OK to drop the Inc., LLC or Co. Example: Use MEDB versus MEDB, Inc.
- Titles: Use lowercase for titles such as mayor, director and coordinator, unless immediately preceded by the name. Example: The school invited Mayor Kirk Caldwell. They offered treats to the mayor.
- Abbreviate titles when part of a title such as Gov. instead of Governor and Rep. for Representative.
- Dates and times: Abbreviate long months like Oct., Nov. and Dec. As an exception to AP style, write the complete date, including the day of the week, but drop the year. Example: Wednesday, July 4. Use 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., not 9:30 AM and 10:00 a.m.
- Links: When adding links, refrain from adding links with complicated characters like http://www.mauicounty.gov/Blog.aspx?IID=258#item. Drop the “www.” Write MauiCounty.us by capitalizing “M” and “C.” If necessary, request a custom redirect link from the Communication Director. Example: Learn more online at MauiCounty.us/Bill59.
- Spell out “percent” and numerals one to nine.
- Symbols: There is no need to include trademark or copyright symbols. Do not use special characters in Hawaiian words, except for proper names such as a person or an organization. Use the character ` for okinas instead of the apostrophe (‘). Example: The Moloka`i Organization of Aloha is based on the island of Molokai.
- Hyphen: Do not hyphenate adverbs ending in “ly.”
- If the dateline says “WAILUKU, Hawaii – ,” there is no need to again say that the meeting is in Wailuku.
- Quotation marks: If a quote is divided in two paragraphs, do not add an end quote after the first paragraph. Example:
“This bill fulfills a goal established four years ago,” Smith said. “It contains standards and restrictions to preserve the character of the neighborhood.
“Clearly defining our laws will give communities greater guidance and improve enforcement.”
More at MauiCounty.us/styleguide.
Facts and opinions
Every opinion in the release must be attributed to a source. Here’s an example.
The bill will help eliminate obstacles for Upcountry residents on the water meter list.
Baisa said the bill will help eliminate obstacles for Upcountry residents on the water meter list.
A credible media outlet will usually confirm or get more information from the councilmember via phone call.
An opinion column or “op-ed piece,” usually written in first-person perspective, is an effective communication tool to frame issues and messages exactly the way the writer prefers. In a press release, statements are usually attributed to someone, such as “Victorino said the taxes were too high.” But in an opinion column, it is OK to say, “The taxes were too high.”
An op-ed piece is less rigid than a news release. Though opinions are expressed, it is advisable to always support claims with facts.
Councilmembers are free to directly contact a newspaper of choice and submit articles, foregoing the OCS review process.
Resources from OCS may be requested via PAF. The staffer assigned will then draft the piece after consultation with the councilmember, and the PAF review process will commence.
Letters to the editor
This widely read newspaper section should be reserved to address specific items that demand a direct response. This platform allows members to clarify an issue or provide additional context in a concise manner.
Mass mailing of printed material
Whether it’s a postcard, a tri-fold brochure or a handout, this service may be requested in a form of a PAF after getting approval from the Council Chair. The PAF will determine guidelines for the project, which may include:
Who will pay for the printing and mailing?
- Mailing list approval
Is the list a specific target demographic? How is the list acquired? Will there be an unfair disadvantage to others who will not receive the material?
- Timeline and other resources
The Council Chair and Committee Chairs will soon be able to communicate via mass email with constituents who have opted to receive agendas and updates from a particular committee.
If you have suggestions or recommendations about this service, please contact any member of the Communications Team.
Social media use is intended to increase government transparency and efficiency for the purpose of creating better legislation and improved constituent services. It is a great tool to get ideas and promote the council’s work.
A social media policy applicable to the Office of Council Services and councilmember offices is available at MauiCounty.us/social-media-policy.
Facebook and Twitter (for now)
Our Facebook page is “Maui County Council” and our Twitter account name (handle) is “@mauicounty.”
Our official hashtag is #mauicounty.
Anyone can submit material
Any councilmember may draft and submit social media content to the Communication Director, including suggestions for retweets or shares. Ways to submit:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Text: (808) 282-4922
- Call: Ext. 7665
Retweeting or sharing Facebook posts should generally be limited to information from appropriate, credible sources, such as government or partner agencies, news media and industry and community leaders.
OCS offers a wide range of services that will help provide public information to your constituents. Plans to expand communication platforms for the Maui County Council, such as creating videos and podcasts and registering new social media accounts with YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, are being considered.
Depending on the complexity of the project, a PAF may be required. Call ext. 7665 to discuss your request.
If you think your camera phone is inadequate, request photo services to document a council-related event. A library of photos is available to councilmembers for official use.
If you have something to say or show that will require video and editing, take advantage of this option.
If there’s legislation that is hard to explain in words, an infographic will help.
This is a digital audio or video file made available on MauiCounty.us. Typically, this is done in a series.
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