Myrtle Beach puts out request for communications consultant after events go viral

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The city is looking to more effectively communicate with the public since a request for proposal was put out on March 16, according to City Manager John Pederson.

"We've had two very, very high profile events that went viral," said Pederson, referring to the shooting that was streamed on Facebook Live in June of 2017 and more recently, the incident at the McDonald's on North Kings Highway earlier this year.

"We want to make sure that when we have those sorts of events, that we do a better job of controlling the flow of information," said Pederson, "That we get out the information, what really happened, where it is, what the consequences were as quickly as we can and as effectively as we can."

Council member Mary Jeffcoat said this consultant won't just be focused on social media, but a more broad picture of communication.

"Basically they're going to study our current communications approach, they're going to look at the platforms they're communicating on, and they're going to look at our philosophy," Pederson said.

Assistant Professor of Communication at Coastal Carolina University Dr. Jeffrey Ranta said the evolution of media is a moving target and monitoring the information out there is very difficult, but very important.

"For large organizations you have a choice. You can either train your own people to do it or you can bring someone else in to do it. And in most cases, bringing someone else in to do it is a smart move," said Ranta.

Proposals are due Wednesday April 11. Pederson said the evaluation committee will then review the proposals before he makes a final recommendation to city council. According to the document, council approval is scheduled for May 22 with a contract effective date of May 24. For a look at the full RFP, click here.

City officials said no one has been selected yet, but this will be a tool to help the city. "We want to be as transparent too in our communication of the information of the things that are going on so this is just another step in that direction," said Pederson.

"If you serve the people, you serve the people and your responsibility is to make sure you're giving the people accurate information in a timely manner and that goes for anybody," said Ranta.

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