Establishing the Lines of Communication
Writer / Janelle Morrison
The position is designed to assist the mayor’s office with streamlining communications with the various departments, organizations, businesses and residents. Blazing the trail as the town’s first director of Communications, Amanda Dorman, began her first day on the job on August 3, with an open mind and open ears.
Not a stranger to Zionsville, her parents, Fred and Sharon Dorman moved into town from Carmel during her sophomore year at Indiana University and she interned with one of the local newspapers during that year.
“I have a strong writing background,” Dorman said. “I went to IU and studied journalism, particularly newspaper writing. I did a lot of internships, including some with PR firms, so I have experience in the various areas of marketing. After graduation, I realized that were not many job opportunities in newspaper writing and I quickly decided to re-strategize and earned my Masters in public relations at IU.”
While she was earning her degree, Dorman worked at Lululemon, a yoga-inspired apparel company. She worked as the assistant manager in the Broad Ripple location and then at the Keystone at the Crossing location when the store expanded. She enjoyed the low-key environment that was ideal while attending classes but also enjoyed the practical experience that she gained while working in retail.
“Once I graduated, I wanted to get into PR and back to writing,” Dorman expressed. “I began looking for jobs in my field. While I think that it is important to have traditional PR experience, I am a very creative person and needed an outlet for that. I found that with Downtown Indy, a nonprofit that focuses on marketing downtown Indianapolis, as their communications manager for three years.
It was a great job. I really learned a lot about promoting a city, as active and as vast as downtown Indianapolis. I wore many different hats. My primary goal was to promote everything that was going on in the downtown area, which is a lot on any given day. I worked with various media partners to get them to cover the events and convince them why the event should be in the news. I worked with the local media but also the national news affiliates that gave us national exposure on major events like the Indy Car Drop on New Year’s Eve. That a huge project for me as the marketing manager on that event. Approximately 25,000 people attended that and it was a great event for Indianapolis.”
When Dorman saw the job posting for the town of Zionsville, she said it sparked her interest because it was requiring the same skills that she possessed and was interested in bringing to the historic, suburban town.
“I had built up the experience over three years working in downtown Indianapolis,” she said. “I had expanded upon my skills and contacts and was ready for the next step. I thought that the next step was to run a program and start it from the ground up. I took my experience in media relations, social media, event planning, working with key influencers and stakeholders and officials and I brought it to Zionsville.
I’ve come into my position very open minded and have spent the first month really listening to people and all of the different suggestions and opinions. People are eager to share their thoughts with me and I appreciate that. I’ve been taking in all of that feedback and taking time to understand what the dichotomy is here. I understand that residents want to maintain the historic charm of Zionsville because that is what puts us on the map. We’re known for our beautiful brick street and the historic shops, restaurants and beautiful homes and parks. But then I also hear that there is a demographic of people who want the big-box amenities and want to have things close by that they could walk or bike to. They would like to have everything at their hands so that they don’t have to go to Carmel or Indianapolis to find these amenities. I think that we do an amazing job at balancing and maintaining our historic charm and having these world-class amenities. It is not an easy task. I have not experienced any town or city that has balanced it as well as Zionsville has. I think my job will be trying to help convey all of those different messages from all of those different parties to all of our different town departments.
One of the first changes that I made was to update the town website and put the most important and relevant information on our homepage. All of the key items, newest press releases, newest grants that we’ve been given, when the next town council meeting is and what is on the agenda, and monthly reports from all of the departments can be easily found on the homepage. This is a town that really wants to be informed and people really do care. I am going to get them the information the best way that I can.
Our social media sites are very active, I came from Downtown Indy where we had 70,000 Twitter followers, crazy numbers, but we had to appeal to a much larger demographic. This is a much more concentrated social media effort which I enjoy. These are people who want to be informed about everything that goes on. I encourage people to use our social media sites. It is free, it is easy to use and I think it’s a great resource for our residents and visitors. I want to encourage our residents to reach out to me with their questions. If I am not able to answer their question immediately, I will follow up with my team and together we will find the answer and reach back out to you. I want people to know that they can come to me with their general comments, feedback and questions. I know that people have a lot to share. I genuinely enjoy getting the emails. People have been very welcoming and very friendly to me. They have shared positive feedback and constructive criticism. My job is to be the connector between the town and all of the different organizations and the people to find solutions and come to a common ground.”
To contact Amanda Dorman or for town updates, please visit the website at www.zionsville-in.gov.