KENNEBUNK, Maine — For the first time, the town has a communications and marketing specialist who will engage citizens, share local news and promote events and opportunities.
Tina Radel, who started her new job on Monday, Aug. 30, shared on Tuesday what interested her in the position.
“Kennebunk is my hometown,” she said, referring to the community she now calls home. “I’ve been doing this type of work for many years, so it’s kind of a natural fit.”
Born and raised in New Jersey, Radel and her husband, Jeff, moved to Kennebunk 15 years ago with their three children.
When Radel reported to Town Hall earlier this week, she brought several months of experience in helping Kennebunk with its efforts toward defining and promoting the community. Since 2020, Radel served as a communications consultant for the town and for the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association.
Among her responsibilities in the past several months, Radel worked on the town’s recent surveys about community opinion and the future of the local transfer station. She also handled the town’s activity on social media.
When it comes to the town’s website, Radel will manage content, post news updates and provide alerts, photos and videos. She also will be there to help colleagues in the local government.
“Many departments maintain their own departmental (web) pages, but sometimes need technical support or assistance with content,” she said.
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Radel said her new position concentrates communications efforts that previously were met by a number of town employees, for whom doing so was not part of their regular responsibilities.
“To have one person doing that focused effort, doing communications, will help,” she said. “It will help take that off of the plates of many people.”
Previously, Radel was the marketing and communications manager for the City of Westbrook, helping that community shift from its perception as an old mill town to a place with an influx of investments, businesses and visitors, according to her resume.
“We did some television campaigns and a lot of marketing to attract businesses, and now they’re doing very well,” Radel said. “I feel that communications played a strong role in that and had a positive impact on that community.”
Radel also has communications experience in the private sector.
Radel has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Delaware and a graduate certificate in marketing management from Harvard University Extension School. She is also a licensed drone pilot, so people in Kennebunk can expect to continue to enjoy online aerial footage of local sites and festivities.
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Kennebunk is not the only local government in the area to establish a new communications position for handling internal and external messaging.
This fall, the City of Sanford is expecting to hire a communications director who will lead its marketing strategies, public information messaging, community and media relations, website content, and social media presence.
Sanford Mayor Anne Marie Mastraccio recently said the hiring of a communications director has been long flagged as one of the city council’s priorities.
“We’re trying to be proactive in making sure we get our message out there,” she said.
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Mastraccio said it’s important to do so because often people on social media express that they did not hear about an event or development in the community. Also, communication is important because Sanford is known as a service community that provides for both residents and people in neighboring towns.
City Manager Steven Buck said the successful applicant likely would be hired as soon as Oct. 1.
Back in Kennebunk, Radel said flexibility is among the keys to her job. One day, she could provide visuals and text to inform people about the local artisan market. The next day, she could do something completely different.
“Over time, I’d like to get to all of these things and give them better exposure,” she said.
Radel said she has a lot of technical know-how, particularly when it comes to graphic arts, writing, computer software and drones, which means the town will no longer need to contract for those services.
Kennebunk analyzing its own brand
Radel said the town recently completed its first phase of branding research and is now analyzing results from the community opinion survey taken this summer.
“Once we draw some conclusions from that, we’ll know what the community thinks of itself and what direction they want to go in or not go in,” she said.
The branding committee, which is part of the town’s economic development committee, is leading this effort.
“They’re the guiding force,” Radel said. “I’m here to support that.”
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Radel said if the survey results show issues that are concerned or frustrated about, she wants to be able to address them “in a positive way.”
Radel said her interest in communications at a local-government level likely goes back to her New Jersey days.
“My first job was with a town, selling beach badges on the Jersey shore,” she said. “I’ve done some corporate work, but I’ve always been drawn back to local government. It’s a comfort level for me, maybe from that early work.”