The City of Cupertino, California, Takes a Budgeting Education Road Less Followed.

Author:Martin, Timothy
 
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Earlier this year, the Cupertino, California, city council directed staff to create the city's first-ever community budget workshop in order to educate residents about the budget, the budget process, and how they could get involved. The city's budget team went to work, brainstorming ways to highlight and promote the upcoming "Budget and Bites" workshop. As planning began, one thing was clear: Cupertino staff didn't want to take the traditional route. So they didn't--and here's the story to prove it (#PicOrItDoesntCount).

The team began brainstorming ways to show important aspects of the budget process, through social media--not just a post here or there, but a social media takeover!

"Since a social media takeover had never been done in the city before, there weren't many expectations of how we were going to make the budget fun and relevant. With that, we went into this campaign thinking we were going to do great," said Kristina Alfaro, director of administrative services.

THE PLAN Staff spent the next several weeks crafting posts for the takeover, mainly for the city's Facebook and Instagram accounts. "We wanted posts that would be relevant for our viewers to know, including major revenue sources (sales, property, and lodging taxes) as well as major expenditures. We then brainstormed how we wanted to creatively present the information," said Toni Oasay-Anderson, management analyst.

The idea was to prepare seven days worth of content on the city's social media channels that were being used for the campaign. "We knew we wanted this to be fun. We wanted to throw out the general convention of what is expected from a finance/budget team, including spreadsheets, line and bar graphs, etc. In the social media world, that could be called #boring! The key was making information relevant to the average person," Alfaro said.

To help, staff looked at current trending topics in an effort to creatively connect those topics to the budget.

After putting ideas on paper, staff met with the city's public affairs team, which oversees the city's social media account, to discuss ideas. Staff then created a timeline, working back from the budget workshop date of April 18, 2019.

To help visualize what they wanted and to determine who would do what, staff used the Planner feature in Microsoft Teams (a communication and collaboration platform) to organize details, create to-do tasks, and produce a checklist to make sure the planned posts and the workshop logistics...

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