Engaging residents in new ways through storytelling

Name: Susan Schrock

Title: Communications Coordinator

City: Arlington, Texas

As a reporter for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Susan Schrock covered Arlington city government for 13 years. That’s still her beat — but now she’s working on the City Hall side of things as part of a nine-person communications team that is using storytelling to engage residents in new ways.

At budget time, for example, Schrock and her colleagues wanted to make it easier for residents to understand where their tax dollars are going. Using a combination of social media-friendly infographics, explainer videos on Facebook Live, and an impressively viral YouTube video, they reached more people (478,000) than Arlington has residents (390,000).

Schrock is especially excited about telling stories with city data, deploying weekly “Data in Action” infographics to break down numbers on water usage, library visits, ridesharing, and more. They help show how the city is using data to drive decision-making, she said, and also demonstrate the city’s commitment to transparency.

These efforts contributed toward Arlington earning What Works Cities Certification in April — as well as today’s announcement that Arlington’s Office of Communication has won Results for America’s first-ever Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers. “We’re trying to give our residents and businesses an idea of what’s happening here,” Schrock said, “so that they know how their tax dollars are being spent and they know what services are available to them.”

“Loop in your communications person when you’ve had a breakthrough, so they can help you shine.”

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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