Congratulations Molly Center

MollyCongratulations to EYPN’s Molly Center for winning the Marguerite Henry Award for Communication/Technology at the 33rd Annual YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon on Thursday, May 12. Molly is the third EYPN member to win the award (Krisilee Murphy, 2012 and Kari Christensen, 2015).

Here is the complete nomination narrative for Molly submitted by EYPN:

In 70 words or less provide important accomplishments that support your nominee being chosen as the 2016 award recipient in their category.

As Multimedia Specialist for the City of Elgin, Molly Center manages and has significantly developed the reach of the city’s extensive social media communications presence, which encompasses 50 different social accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. She also manages content for the city’s website (www.cityofelgin.org) and leads the creation of the city’s visual marketing, branding and messaging graphics for city events, initiatives and communications.

List the significant achievements of the nominee in the named category.

As the manager of the City of Elgin’s social media communications, Molly has a key role in both crafting and delivering a variety of important news from myriad city departments across multiple traditional and non-traditional communication platforms to this diverse municipality of over 110,000 people. She strategically orchestrates a comprehensive communications schedule for 27 different city Facebook accounts, 14 Twitter accounts and multiple e-mail lists. Under her leadership, the number of daily news postings, engaged followers and overall reach of these social accounts has nearly doubled! She also manages content for the city’s website thru their Salesforce database and contributes content to the city’s quarterly Neighbor newsletter and monthly Special Events eblast.

As part of the Elgin Area Chamber’s Enhancing Elgin committee, Molly helped organize a group of Elgin marketing and social media professionals in an effort to more effectively leverage all of the communications resources of the Elgin community. The #Elgin365 Committee, which includes participants from Gail Borden Library, the Elgin Area Chamber, Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Neighborhood Association and other Elgin groups, meets monthly to discuss ways to collaboratively share positive stories about Elgin, as well as, determine ways to strategically tie Elgin to local and national trending topics on social media. (For example, researching and sharing stories about important women in Elgin’s history for National Women’s History Month.) By integrating and cross promoting the group’s new #Elgin365 hashtag amongst these and other area communications outlets’ online postings, it is the hope of the committee to saturate Elgin’s social media landscape with all the good news Elgin has to offer and thus positively impact the narrative about our great community.

She has also been heavily involved in the rollout of the newest version of the city’s Elgin 311 app, including writing content for the Elgin Today section and analyzing and researching the Twitter presences of local businesses and restaurants for potential integration into a new “Business” section for the app – thus making the app more valuable not only to residents and visitors as a source for local information but to business owners and employees as a driver of economic development.

Molly also has completely revamped the city’s visual marketing and messaging by developing more streamlined, uniform and professional looking branding for print collateral, advertising, logos and online postings. In a way, Molly enjoys the unique role of shaping both the image and voice for the City of Elgin. Not bad for a young professional.

List past or present positions of leadership or responsibility.

Molly currently serves as the Staff Liaison to the City of Elgin’s Sustainability Commission where she runs monthly commission meetings, takes meeting minutes and provides vital communication between city staff and the commission as well as grant and sponsorship applicants. She also manages the commission’s Facebook page where she authors and promotes weekly “Waste Wednesday” tips which describe a variety of sustainable practices for residents, from recycling yard waste to proper disposal of household batteries. Under her leadership, the Sustainability Commission’s Facebook page has grown to nearly 700 likes with marked levels of social media engagement from the community.

She began her tenure with the City of Elgin as a Naturalist for Hawthorn Hills Nature Center, where she organized volunteer clean-up efforts and other events.

Describe qualities of leadership demonstrated by the nominee.

Molly’s leadership is demonstrated by her actions and her work ethic. Quite simply, she leads by doing. Shouldering the responsibility of being the “traffic cop” for getting out nearly all of the City of Elgin’s online communications is not something easily accomplished. It takes tremendous drive, diligence and patience to interface and follow-up with the major city departments on providing relevant and accurate content for their areas on a weekly basis. It then takes a great deal of time management savvy to develop said content and appropriate visual messaging for multiple social platforms in a timely and compliant fashion, and it takes supreme organization skills and a thorough understanding of the social media “tricks of the trade” to then strategically schedule all of those postings. It is these traits as well as her thoughtful listening skills, abundant creativity and willingness to go above and beyond in every facet of her work that make her an outstanding leader and an ideal candidate for this award.

Describe how this person has demonstrated a commitment to excellence.

Though already well-versed in social media communications, Molly felt it was important to further increase her skills through continuing education. Thus in February 2015, she worked with members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Elgin Area Chamber and Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, to secure funds for a group of local social media professionals to attend a Social Media Boot Camp produced by nationally acclaimed Ragan Communications. The two-day virtual training session provided the group a well-rounded education on newer social media and marketing trends. This continual search to broaden her knowledge base and experience makes Molly an invaluable resource to the city and demonstrates her commitment to excellence.

Explain how the nominee made an outstanding or innovative contribution in the category.

The City of Elgin recently launched a new website and communications initiative called “Investing in Elgin” (www.cityofelgin.org/construction) to keep Elgin residents informed on capital improvement projects, such as road construction, street resurfacing or sewer repairs. Molly was the lead on developing this new website for the city, which details timelines and costs for each project and integrates a social component to the initiative that pushes site content about each project to residents thru a weekly e-mail blast as well as Twitter, Facebook and the city’s Elgin 311 app for mobile devices. This new proactive, multi-channel approach to engagement with the community helps solidify Elgin as a trend-setting, innovative municipality.

To help reach a broader audience and better disseminate topics discussed by City Council, Molly also live tweets council meetings on Twitter, which serves to expand civic interest from the community on the inner-workings of their local government.

List any achievement which has made improvements in the specific profession, business, or service.

As recently as three years ago, the City of Elgin’s communications footprint was significantly less visible and their online branding identity was disjointed at best. Over the last two years, Molly has worked hard to increase the city’s reach to its citizens thru a diligent, more strategic approach to social media postings including a larger focus on content. By adding or updating over 30 new Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for city of Elgin committees, special events and other municipal branches and nearly quadrupling its social media reach, the city can now more effectively target its communications to a specific audience. Couple that with a more unified, cohesive messaging and advertising brand developed by Molly, the City of Elgin now has a robust, well-oiled communications machine to better engage with a much larger segment of the Elgin community, thanks in large part to the efforts and leadership exemplified by Molly Center.