2018 Annual Meeting: Get the leadership message

​In the three years since Jennifer Pinckney's husband, Rev. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was killed in the shootings at the Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, she has established a foundation to continue her husband's legacy of improving the quality of life for all South Carolina residents.

As the keynote speaker at the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting, July 19 – 22, Pinckney will bring an inspiring message of hope and leadership to the opening general session.

Her vision will set the tone for this year's agenda of learning, public service and inspiration.

Keep the connection
Ask Dale Henry how he's doing, and his answer may very well be "oscillating between fantastic and awesome."

Besides energy, he also has tips for how others — especially public servants — can feel that good, that inspired and that motivated. The former Tennessee county councilman, humorist and author will speak at the Association's Annual Meeting delegates' luncheon on July 20 on topics from getting excited about serving the public to staying ethical.

"We just get beat down with the day-to-day activities and routines of our job," said Henry. But it doesn't have to be that way, even if feelings of invisibility sometimes overtake feelings of fulfillment for local government officials.

Part of that has to do with losing the connection to the reason elected and municipal officials entered public service to begin with. It's a challenge that also ties into ethics, according to Henry.

"I think the trap we fall into sometimes is we stop listening to our constituents, and we start responding in a way that we think is best for them. We almost become like a parent instead of a partner," Henry said.

"When we stop listening and we insert too much of ourselves into our jobs, then I think what happens is it doesn't sound like unethical behavior. But we ran on the promise that we'd represent them, not that we would make decisions for them. I know that's a subtle thing, but that's exactly what ethics is all about — It's the subtleties in life."

Annual Meeting preconference choices

Municipal officials will have three preconference workshops to choose from at the 2018 Annual Meeting on Hilton Head Island. All will take place the morning of Thursday, July 19. The preconference workshops are additional educational opportunities and are not included in the Annual Meeting registration fee. The three workshops are Media Training for a New Media World, Civil Discourse in the Face of Incivility, and Revolutionizing Government in the 21st Century.

Media Training for a New Media World

If you aren't telling your story quickly and accurately, someone else will, according to NP Strategy, a South Carolina marketing and communications firm. Amanda Loveday, senior project advisor, and Meaghan Norman, media relations manager with NP Strategy, will present strategies to communicate effectively when dealing with the news media. Loveday's background includes work with political candidates and elected officials, while Norman is a former television reporter and anchor.

A few messaging basics that all cities and towns should keep in mind include these:

  • Identify your audience.
  • Develop a clear message.
  • Pick the right platforms to get that message out.

When it comes to media relations, city officials should be proactive:

  • Establish relationships with media outlets as soon as possible and regularly pitch stories.
  • Use social media to tell your story and leverage analytics to maximize its benefits.

If there is a crisis, stick to these guidelines:

  • Never lie.
  • Never say "no comment."
  • Pick the right spokespersons.

(This session is limited to 35 registrants to maximize the opportunity for hands-on participation.) 

Civil Discourse in the Face of Incivility

Municipal officials can face incivility from residents and others in both everyday interactions and divisive situations. Learn to develop leadership skills to navigate and resolve conflicts in a professional manner. Explore listening with the goal of understanding as an essential part of leadership, and get the opportunity to practice new skills that will inspire leadership and civility in the governing bodies of your communities. Participants will work in groups using a case study to explore the tools presented in the session.

Revolutionizing Government in the 21st Century

Residents have come to expect more from local leaders in terms of expertise, creativity and proactive problem solving. Increased scrutiny, expanding regulations, a shifting political landscape and significant workforce challenges add up to a valuable opportunity to activate change, drive innovation and successfully lead toward a better future. Learn how to maximize capabilities for the 21st century using sound strategies and a series of specific tactics designed to disrupt the status quo.

The Annual Meeting registration process will mirror what's been done in the past. All attendees must use the Association's online process for reserving hotel rooms and registering for the meeting. Each city received a May appointment time based on a drawing held in March.

The 30-minute appointments for municipal representatives to register their officials are scheduled for May 29, 30 and 31. During the city's appointment this month, Association staff will assist the municipal representative in registering all officials who will be attending from that city. The deadline for other hotel reservations is June 19, and registration is July 5. For nonmunicipal attendees, hotel and Annual Meeting reservations must be made online from June 1 – 19.