To have a "strong, positive relationship with the media as well as residents," Powell City Council on Dec. 15 adopted its first-ever communications plan.

To have a "strong, positive relationship with the media as well as residents," Powell City Council on Dec. 15 adopted its first-ever communications plan.

The plan further states the city public information officer -- a job now held by Jeff Robinson -- will be the "first point of contact for city information and for all media inquiries."

Robinson said, "(It is) a vehicle to make the communication between staff, officials, media and residents run a little bit more smoothly and keep me apprised of what's going on in terms of what stories reporters are working on."

Robinson said it will also help him address questions from the community about topics such as the street and sidewalk programs.

The plan applies to "all city staff members ... as well as the city's elected and appointed officials." It also says "appointed and elected officials may respond to media inquiries at their own discretion ..."

Robinson said, "There will still be some times when it's going to be more appropriate for a department head to talk with a reporter or for an elected official or appointed official to talk to the media, but this is something that will give us guidelines to follow."

The communications plan was adopted in conjunction with a crisis communications plan. The crisis plan outlines steps to be taken for getting the information out "early" and "accurately" and to update "continuously."

Robinson said, "The crisis communication plan gives us something to follow and was based on a model that we worked on with a group called the Central Ohio Public Information Network, which is a lot of folks from the boards of health and different cities around central Ohio."

Both plans instruct the staff and elected officials not to "talk 'off the record.'"

Mayor Tom Counts said the city's operations committee approved the plan for council's consideration.

Council member Richard Cline said, "I'm impressed with the thought process here. I think this process will help ensure that we get timely and accurate information in response to either citizen or media inquiry. I think that will be very positive for our relationship with our residents."

Part of the plan also deals with Internet social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

"I've worked with students from the DECA program at Olentangy Liberty High School," Robinson said. "They have set up a Facebook page for us and a Twitter account."

Robinson said that in the coming months, residents will be able to log onto those Web sites and stay up-to-date on happenings in and around the city.