#CityHallSelfie Day: More than a photo op

On August 15, men, women, children and animals participated in the annual #CityHallSelfie Day, a viral holiday celebrating local government. This year, images and videos were shared from the front steps, rooftops and even fountains of public buildings across the U.S.

What is #CityHallSelfie Day?

#CityHallSelfie Day originated in 2017 and occurs on August 15 of each year. Created and managed by the organization Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), the promotion involves taking a self-portrait in front of city hall or another local government building and uploading it to social media using the hashtag #CityHallSelfie.

The campaign is designed to remind people of the importance and value of a public service career.

“City Hall Selfie Day is all about showcasing pride in your local government,” said Heartland Chief Communications Officer Ann Hyland. “It’s a free, easy and fun way to draw attention to government employees and services, such as municipal utilities.”

Participants are encouraged to be memorable and have fun, utilizing props, special effects, filters and in some cases, animals.

The event has become so popular that prizes are awarded, ranging from Most Historic to Best Lighting. There is even an award for #CityHallSelfie With the Most Famous Person.

One of Heartland’s #CityHallSelfie tweets earned recognition from website and podcast City Council Chronicles. Our photoshopped re-tweet from Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken was named number 6 on their top ten list for 2019.

Why is it important?

Hyland says the campaign is not just a photo opportunity. The true challenge comes once the event has passed: keeping the conversation going.

Ideally, city and utility participants will have gained new followers and generated buzz on social media. Now they can use that momentum to engage with residents all year long.

Hyland suggests cities utilizing social media show off local amenities, announce job openings, share project progress updates, boost events and more.

For further inspiration, tech company CivicPlus offers seven ways municipals can use social media. The blog post also offers a free e-book, A Local Government Communicator’s Guide to Social Media. Similarly, Bang the Table offers a free webinar entitled “Creating Engaged Citizens: Where Social Media and Digital Engagement Fits In.”

From all organizations, the message is clear: local governments should be utilizing social media.

“Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow councils and commissions to communicate directly with the people who are impacted by their decisions,” Hyland said. “City Hall Selfie Day literally drives those people to city hall or other public buildings. Now it’s up to the city to kick-start the conversation and build meaningful relationships.”

#CityHallSelfies from Heartland customers and staff:

New Volga city administrator looking forward to community projects

The city of Volga recently welcomed a new face to fill the position of city administrator. South Dakota native Jameson Berreth began his duties June 1 with a warm reception from the community.

Jameson Berreth 1-web“Everyone in the community has been incredibly welcoming and friendly, and are interested in meeting the new person in town,” said Berreth. “It makes me very excited to get to know the community and work with the people who live here.”

Originally from Eureka, Berreth has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University and Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Global Studies from South Dakota State University. Prior to joining the city of Volga, Berreth worked for the South Dakota Department of Education as a management analyst. There, he was part of a team responsible for the consolidation of already existing educational data into one central system. In particular, he led the training of school district teachers and administrators in system usage and data analysis.

Although this is Berreth’s first full-time management position, he believes his experience as president of the SDSU Student’s Association will prove beneficial.

“As president, I was required to manage a large budget, staff, volunteer student senators and other various projects,” said Berreth. “Knowing how much I enjoyed that experience led me to believe I would do well in this position.”

Although city administration wasn’t always on his radar, he’s looking forward to his new role and the variety that comes with it.

“I wanted a career that offered a variety of challenges and experiences while improving and bettering an area, or in this case, a city,” he said. “Leading up to the job, I anticipated each day would be different with new problems and situations to address. So far, it is living up to that expectation!”

While he doesn’t foresee proposing any major changes to the city, Berreth does look forward to getting involved with ongoing projects.

“I need to get my feet wet before initiating any large plans or proposals. Volga was operating very successfully before I arrived, so I don’t expect to make widespread or drastic changes. However, building a community activity center is a priority for many residents as well as the city council. I am looking forward to working on that project, which already has plans drawn up for the facility but still requires a financing strategy,” he said.

He also expects to stay busy managing recent and ongoing developments in the community as well as carefully planning for future growth.

Berreth and his wife Sara are in the process of building a home in Volga. Sara is employed as a dietitian in Watertown, SD.