CityConnect

The Municipal Association of South Carolina's new blog can be found at muniassnsc.blogspot.com

South Carolina's 270 cities and towns have a new venue to keep track of what's working well (or not so well) on the municipal level.

The S.C. Municipal Association created the CityConnect blog for anyone interested in what's going on with the state's cities and towns, said Reba Campbell, the association's deputy executive director.

"We intend for the blog to share good news, breaking news or news that might get buried somewhere else," she said.

While municipal officials are the main audience, Campbell said she hopes the blog will appeal to state policymakers, state legislators, business leaders, the media and others. The site has had more than 600 hits since launching last week.

Campbell noted the association's website has more than 2,000 pages, but many elected officials are too busy to delve into them.

"More and more, general research shows you've got to give people information in multiple ways, and you've got to give it to them in short bursts," she said. "We're not trying to create new content for the most part. We're just trying to package it a little bit differently."

Campbell said the association is interested in short guest posts, 250 words or less, that are educational -not sales or political pitches.

Some early blog posts have updated Congress's move to repeal a law that caused flood insurance premiums to spike and have offered a look at utility manager's duties in one of the state's 21 municipalities that run their own utilities.

Half of South Carolina's cities have fewer than 1,000 residents, and many are seeing less coverage from newspapers and other traditional media. Mayors and others are countering that in part by getting word out via Facebook and Twitter.

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said he's seen a big chance in the depth of coverage since the Beaufort Gazette and Hilton Head Island Packet merged, and he's responded by emailing out newsletters to about 5,500 people. His Facebook page also has almost 5,000 likes. He said he will look into CityConnect and see what it can do.

"It's a whole new communications landscape out there," Campbell said, "and this blog is just one of our attempts to keep up with that and hopefully get ahead of the curve."

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.