Tracie Hicks understands the value of social media in getting information to potentially thousands of people with just a single click.
“There’s been so many community pages popping up (on Facebook),” said Hicks, the president of the Wendell Chamber of Commerce. “On those pages, I just notice how much interaction and how much feedback you can get.”
She also understands the advantages of meeting with people face-to-face when working on event planning, as opposed to going the email route.
For that reason, the chamber arranged a meeting Wednesday of a variety of prominent stakeholders in town to build a master schedule of all events they have planned for the 2016 year and to encourage them to promote each other’s affairs.
“Some of us overlap so much on the different (town appointed) committees that we work on, and we’ve got all the churches that are right there in downtown and schools and organizations, and we don’t know what each other is doing,” Hicks said. “To help each other out in making things grow and be more successful, that was the point in getting everybody together in January to start this plan, and just get a good calendar and get to know each other. I think the more we meet and get together, it will benefit us all.”
At the well-attended meeting were representatives from local churches, civic groups and businesses, and Wendell staff and elected officials. It allowed people to propose ideas that could benefit more than just the group they represent.
Wendell Country Club general manager Ben Yeargin, for example, pitched the idea of targeting the Wendell Falls community for a special event at the golf course to Brad Rhinehalt of the Newland development company.
“There’s one thing between Wendell Falls and the Town of Wendell, and it’s a golf course,” Yeargin said. “We need people out there. It’s a selling point for people that you have a golf course within two miles of your neighborhood. There’s plenty of land and space for vendors, for stuff for kids to do.”
Less room for confusion
Hicks updated a master calendar on her computer, projected onto a TV for all to see as event dates were announced. They included blood drives, food plate sales, local Relay for Life and major town events, and about anything in between.
Setting up the joint schedule in person, Hicks said, eliminated the chance for confusion, or worse, that email often brings.
“With email, sometimes people can read words in too many different ways and things are taken the wrong way,” Hicks said. “Here, when you have a group of people, emotions aren’t read in a different way and people’s feelings are not hurt.
“One person said ‘Hey, can you think about doing your blood drive a little bit later or a little bit earlier’ – those are the types of things if someone wrote that in email they might have taken it the wrong way, but face-to-face they understand why they’re saying that.”
Mayor Ginna Gray expects the master schedule will help prevent overbooking certain dates and prevent groups holding similar events from competing against each other.
“Wendell is a small town and not everyone is going to participate in but so many things in such a short period of time – and some of the same things,” Gray said. “It increases opportunities for people to participate and get involved.”
Hicks said email will still be used for groups to review and make adjustments to the calendar, but that having people sit down and sort through things in the same room was an important initial step.
She also asked those attending to keep tabs on the others’ social media pages so they can like or share their posts.
“People love to take their kids out and do things, and some people just can’t afford to go into Raleigh, so here’s an opportunity where Wendell has so many things that do go on that people don’t know about,” she said. “Wendell is not as interactive with social media as they could be that would help their events.”