City to overhaul public relations efforts

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City of Dallas public information officer Sana Syed wants the city’s website to look more like this.

Take a glance at the city of Dallas website. It’s outdated, the layout is clunky, and it’s almost impossible to find anything that’s not linked to the landing page.

The city’s public information officer, Sana Syed, has a plan for a major overhaul of how the city communicates with residents, including a rework the website.

The plan also includes improving the city’s four cable TV stations, communicating better through social media, providing more city information on WRR radio and creating stronger relationships with news outlets.

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The city has funded $2.5 million for television improvements, including equipment upgrades, Syed says.

Syed plans to produce stories, photos and videos to better tell the story of City Hall and make them more accessible online to Dallas residents.

“Our website doesn’t show all of our content,” she told City Council Wednesday.

The city has TV broadcast equipment in the City Council chambers, the Council briefing room as well as in a studio inside City Hall. She also plans to improve a dormant existing TV studio that’s in the basement of the Dallas Public Library, which could be used by the Dallas school district, the community college district, DART and Parkland hospital.

City Councilman Phillip Kingston said he wants to make sure the city’s public information efforts don’t have a political agenda.

When cities push for a public information agenda, “it raises the specter of propaganda,” he says, and the city ought to draw a clear line between informing and advocating.

City Councilman Scott Griggs asked whether more public meetings would be available by TV broadcast. Currently, City Council meetings and their committee meetings are broadcast, but other city meetings — for example, City Plan Commission and Landmark Commission — are not.

Syed answered that the goal is to have all public meetings broadcast as available airspace allows, and that could happen as soon as three months from now.

The rest of Syed’s plan — website improvements and storytelling — could be online in six months to a year, she says.

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All City Council members present and the Mayor generally indicated approval of Syed’s plan.

“The more we communicate, the more our citizens will be educated if they take the opportunity to do that,” City Councilman Jerry Allen said.

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  • downtownworker

    Yes to broadcasting city plan commission and other meetings. I agree that the city’s website is a joke.