Communicating in the Counties

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By Nick Seebruch
Communicating in the Counties
Todd Lihou, Corporate Communications Coordinator with the United Counties of SD&G. Submitted photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The United Counties of SD&G has introduced a new position to help keep their residents informed. A good municipal Communications Coordinator is a blessing to news reporters, and luckily for Seaway News and other news outlets, the United Counties has hired someone with a lot of experience on both sides of the coin.

Todd Lihou, a former Seaway News Editor and a long-time journalist started on the job with the United Coutnies on Feb. 24.

The job of Corporate Communications Coordinator is brand new for the United Counties, but Lihou is already moving forward with plans to better communicate with media, residents and within the corporation itself.

“Improving communications is my primary goal,” he said. “As you know, this is a new position and we’re working hard to create an improved communications plan that allows us to broadcast our messaging in a more efficient manner. In the short-term we’ve been able to increase our digital footprint with more social media engagement, and increased communication with our media partners who are integral to the links we’re looking to create in in the county.”

In the long-term, Lihou hopes to help create a new website for the United Counties of SD&G that incorporates interactivity for streamlined service.

When Lihou began the job he did not know that the whole world was about to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and that the job of a Communications Coordinator would become much more rigorous and essential.

At their meeting on April 20, the United Counties Council of SD&G appointed Lihou Emergency Communications officer, a provincially mandated position that is required by municipalities during emergencies.

“Things are a little different because of the physical distancing provisions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Lihou said. “You’ve likely noticed that we have not created and staffed an emergency information centre as is usually the case when an emergency is declared. I take part in weekly updates with the EOHU to ensure we have up-to-date information concerning the pandemic’s impact in our region. We’re working closely with our municipal partners in Cornwall and Prescott-Russell, as well as the EOHU to ensure we are being consistent with our messaging, which continues to be that physical distancing is paramount to limiting the spread of the virus.”

Lihou explained that when the virus begins to recede that his work related to COVID-19 will continue.

“Because of COVID-19 we have instituted some new provisions for maintaining links with our partners in the townships,” he said. “I host weekly comms meetings with my counterparts in the townships where we can share information and best practices. Our economic development department is working in much the same way with our regional partners, to ensure there are plans in place to begin the recovery work once the virus begins to subside.”

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