Communications Week

The City of Johnston is celebrating communications week Nov. 15-19. Communications plays an important role within the City to ensure that messages are communicated to businesses and residents and our brand is represented well.

The City of Johnston has two members within communications. Communications Manager Janet Wilwerding and Communications Specialist Madeline VanderLinden.

Get to know Communications Manager Janet Wilwerding.
Janet Wilwerding began her role in 2017 as a Communications Specialist. When she began, she was managing the website, all social media platforms, including Police, Fire and City, newsletters and media relations. How businesses and residents receive information today is different than how they received it ten years ago. Janet has seen a significant increase in those visiting the City’s website and social media platforms for information. Think of how you receive updates from friends and family – it’s mostly through social media and the City works in a similar manner.

When asked what Janet enjoys most about her position, she said, “No day is ever the same.” She enjoys working with all departments and communicating the great information going on within the City every day. And she can see the information being shared and making an impact within Johnston.

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Before joining the Johnston team, she served in other marketing and communications roles. Marketing plays such an important aspect in communications. In the 1970s, consumers were exposed to five hundred ads a day. Today, that number ranges from 6,000 to 10,000. So, when the City of Johnston shares information, we need to do so strategically to ensure it reaches our residents because we are competing with other companies for visibility.

The City of Johnston conducts business and community surveys every two years to understand what residents are concerned with, what they would like to see changed and how they consume information. It is important communications adapts and adjust to how our residents are receiving information. The leaders of Johnston and the communications team take a close look at this information and make changes where needed. We must communicate major projects and infrastructure improvements so residents are aware we do take their input seriously.

As our City has grown, so have the communications needs across all departments. To ensure we continue communicating at the level needed, an extra staff member was critical. Leadership saw this need and in March 2021, Maddy joined the communications team. You will often see Janet and Maddy at events taking photos and videos and posting them to social media. “It is important for our residents to see the fun activities and department-related projects happening within the community,” Janet said. “While we are often those behind the camera, we also get to tell the great stories.”

Janet also works closely with the media about positive stories happening within the community. The pandemic has certainly made this difficult, but she has continued to send those “good” stories because she understands the impact that positive stories can make in our daily lives.
 When Janet is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family and teaching fitness classes. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to ensure she can continue communicating the incredible things happening within the Johnston community.

Get to know Communications Specialist Madeline VanderLinden.
Maddy VanderLinden started with the City in March of 2021. She was hired to help the growing community of Johnston communicate to their residents, especially through digital platforms. With the large expansion and development of the Johnston Town Center and new City Hall, there are many exciting opportunities and developments are happening within the City. Maddy has taken her passion for local government and combined it with her creative abilities to help add to the communications department.

When asked what Maddy enjoys most about her job, she said, “My job is so enjoyable because I get to communicate for such a thriving city with exciting things happening every day.” She also enjoys working with all the people across the city departments. “It is so rewarding to see the employees serving the residents and making a difference within the Johnston community.” 

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She has enjoyed creating videos of city workers and sharing them on the City’s social channels. These videos help residents get an inside look at what happens behind the scenes to keep the City thriving.

Previous to this role, she worked in digital marketing and communications. She attended journalism school and was especially drawn to multimedia forms of communication. She enjoys storytelling through video and capturing the essence of experiences for visual consumption. Today more than ever, it is important to create other forms of communication as most people prefer to view it that way. 

Maddy enjoys being able to not only promote but attend City events and activities. “The City of Johnston is always thinking of new ways to engage residents. City leaders listen to what residents want and make it happen,” she added.

When Maddy is not at work, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and traveling. While traveling is a favorite pastime, she is always glad to come home. She looks forward to seeing Johnston continue to evolve and change.