ATLANTIC CITY, NJ -- At this year’s annual New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference, Mark Sokolich, Mayor of Fort Lee, NJ, moderated the panel, “Media Strategies: Tips & Tools for the 21st Century.” Presenters at the panel were Michael Shapiro, the CEO & Publisher of TAPinto.net; Robin Dente, Assistant Business Administrator & Community Affairs Coordinator of Hanover, NJ; and, Tara Berson, Public Information Officer, Middletown Township, NJ

“It was a great seminar, we had some great experts,” said Mayor Sokolich. “It was about advice and counsel for local leaders and administrators in New Jersey, talking about dealing with fake news and getting accurate information out there.” 

“Currently there is a crisis in local news,” said TAPinto’s Shapiro. “Local news has been disappearing from communities across New Jersey.” There are now over 100 municipalities in New Jersey that have no local news or local newspaper, he explained. 

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“Social media can be a channel,” Shapiro advised, but reminded the audience of its limitations. “Only a portion of your community are on social media, and only a portion of those people are on your Facebook page,” he said. And because of Facebook’s algorithms, only 20-30% of page followers will actually see those posts, he added. 

“As a mayor, I’ve often been heard to say there’s nothing worse than when you put something together, whatever it might be that you’re offering to the community,” said Sokolich, “and one of your taxpayers or rate payers says, ‘I would have gone, I would have participated, but I didn’t know about it’.” 

Dente provided specific strategies for townships on communicating with both media and local residents, and Berson shared Middletown’s methods for messaging and communication, including a robust township website at https://www.middletownnj.org/

“It’s always critical to make sure that you have a good relationship with the media,” Sokolich added. 

For more information about events at this year’s conference, visit the NJ League of Municipalities’ website