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Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Carlisle Tristyn Sulich grabs a rebound in a Mid-Penn Commonwealth game Friday night at Cumberland Valley High School.

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Managing the Message: Social media gives Cumberland County municipalities a new communications tool
Michael Bupp, The Sentinel  

Stephanie Taylor is the public information officer at Carlisle Borough and manages its  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Facebook boasted 1.4 billion active users in December 2017.

Twitter has some 330 million active users.

Instagram announced last year that it had reached 800 million users.

Increasingly, social media is where conversation is happening, and some local municipalities are following the trend to better inform their residents.

The majority of Cumberland County communities do not have an official presence on social media. Those who have made the leap are finding it is a valuable tool with fewer problems than casual users of the platforms might anticipate.

Getting started

Carlisle Borough has known for a long time that it needed to be active on social media, Borough Manager Matt Candland said. Residents are not coming to meetings to ask questions so the borough had to go where they are and communicate in the way they are communicating.

“The reality is there’s a large segment of our community that communicates on social media. And, in many cases, that might be their primary source of information,” he said.

The question, though, was when would be the right time to do it.

“I think the reason most of your communities aren’t doing it is because of money. I think everyone recognizes the importance of it, but can you afford doing it?” Candland said.

Stephanie Taylor was hired in June 2017 as the borough’s public information coordinator, a position created and funded in the borough’s 2017 budget.

It may be tempting to think Taylor spends all day scanning social media, but that is only a portion of her job. She checks Facebook and Twitter first thing in the morning for news and to respond to questions and comments from the borough’s followers on those platforms. She also answers email requests through the borough’s website, updates the website, works on the borough newsletters and attends borough events and meetings.

Lower Allen Township Manager Tom Vernau said the township has been on Facebook for some time.

“We understand the power of the communication potential there,” he said.

The township has designated four people as administrators of the page, which is used to push information to residents. That includes anything the public may want to know such as events, changes to trash pickup, awards won by township employees and many other topics.

Lemoyne Borough Manager Cindy Foster, who came on board in June, said the borough started a new Facebook account after she arrived. Former Borough Councilman Mike Sadowski did most of the work in setting it up.

Generally the borough uses the account to pass along information it thinks will be of interest to its residents. For example, notices were posted recently about a detour, changes to the trash pickup schedule due to the snow and the swearing-in of new council members.

The responsibility for monitoring it falls to Foster, who said she picks up ideas about how to use the account from other municipalities.

“It’s good for us. I think we’re getting a positive response,” she said.

Though a page can be found on Facebook, Hampden Township officials made it clear it is not an official page by adding a header and post stating such to the page along with information on how to contact borough officials.

Township manager Keith Metz said that the general government does not have a presence on social media though both the police and recreation departments do. The page on Facebook had been established at some point, but changes at the township prompted them to modify the page and discontinue using it.

“From a general government standpoint, we maintain and update our website as much as possible,” Metz said.

Posting and commenting

Like other municipalities, Carlisle posts information on anything that will affect its residents. That can range from an agenda for an upcoming borough council meeting to a notice about a water main break, and many items in between. In addition, Assistant Borough Manager Susan Armstrong said the borough shares posts and information from organizations that have the support of the borough, such as the Downtown Carlisle Association.

Taylor said the borough has not seen “super negative, unruly” commenters on its pages. The borough’s policy on the management of the page is outlined on the “about” tab of its Facebook page in which it warns that comments may be deleted if they include vulgar language, personal attacks and spam or if they advocate illegal activity or compromise safety, among other considerations.

If she has to delete a comment for any of those reasons, Taylor said she keeps a screenshot of the comments so that the record is retained. Other than that, the only posts that may be deleted at a later time are posts that involve missing children who were subsequently found.

In responding to comments, Taylor said she only responds to those that ask a specific question. Otherwise, commenters are permitted to “blow off steam” as long as they are not otherwise violating the comment policy.

Comments are permitted on Lower Allen’s page, but Vernau is clear that profanity is not tolerated, nor are personal attacks. Those engaging in such language are warned, and are “kicked off” the page if they continue. That hasn’t been much of an issue, though, as most of the commenters have been good though some may use the forum for general rants against government.

“We don’t limit that debate as long as there are no personal attacks,” Vernau said.

Limits of social media

“Most people would agree that social media may not be the ideal substitute for in-person communication, but it is what’s happening,” Candland said.


One drawback is that words on a screen can’t convey the tone and inflection that would be used in regular conversation, which may lead to misunderstandings. Taylor said she tries to minimize that effect by writing the posts in as neutral and impartial a manner as possible.

That becomes particularly important when controversial issues come before the council. In those instances, social media posts are designed to share information without taking a side.

“The purpose of this is not to participate in the debate and deliberation. The purpose of it is to share information. We’re going to try and do our best — and there may be times when we’re not perfect with that — but we’re going to do our best to share information and not to take positions,” Candland said.

Armstrong said that while the borough has used its newsletter, the Carlisle Gazette, and press releases as methods of outreach, there were still deficiencies in ways to educate the public about the issues coming before the council at any given time.

“It really helped us that way, to be able to get the messages out more promptly, and to educate the public on topics of interest and concern within the community,” she said.

She also said the social media accounts will be handy when work surrounding the Carlisle Urban Redevelopment Plan moves further along, particularly as it relates to road closures.

“People are going to want to know how the borough is able to balance what we need to get done as far as infrastructure with respect to other things like Carlisle fairgrounds events,” she said.

Armstrong said the reaction to the borough’s social media accounts has been generally positive, especially in regards to response time to questions posted on the sites.

Though municipalities may have reservations about social media in general, it is a “smart” move for them to add social media to their communications toolbox, Vernau said.

“The balancing act that we walk is that we have residents of all ages,” he said.

Facebook is the primary means by which the municipality reaches younger generations, but Vernau acknowledges the popularity of Twitter and Instagram among those residents. Old people, while active to a degree on social media, are more inclined to be reached through the township’s robocall system or the township website.

Candland said there have been no drawbacks and no regrets to the borough’s decision to jump into the social media fray.
“It was to hopefully be beneficial to the community and be another way citizens can be informed of what’s going on, so we hope it’s accomplishing that,” he said.

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Cumberland County
Local businesses see a surge in Eagles fandom

The Philadelphia Eagles are flying off the shelves of the Bleacher Bums store in the Capital City Mall.

“This is, by far, the biggest Super Bowl sale I’ve seen,” said Dan Rhone, an employee at the store for about eight years. He said demand for Eagles brand products has tripled since the team won the NFC championship on Jan. 21.

The Eagles take on the New England Patriots at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Numbers wise, we are well ahead of pace compared to the last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl,” Rhone said. That was in 2011 when the Pittsburgh team lost to the Green Bay Packers 31-25.

While the total sales in dollars is down slightly, the number of articles of clothing sold is higher than when the Black and Gold played in Super Bowl XLV.

“We don’t have [Eagles] jerseys,” Rhone said. Jerseys tend to sell for $80 to $100 each compared to T-shirts, which sell for $20 to $25.

The hottest Eagle brand product is a T-shirt that shows offensive lineman Lane Johnson wearing a dog mask with the words “Underdogs Gotta Eat.” The store received about 36 of those shirts on Jan. 26. By that night, it had sold out. The second order came in Tuesday and the supply was already low by the time The Sentinel called the store on Jan. 31.

Rhone said many customers buying Eagles gear are Steelers fans who want the New England Patriots to lose. There are two main reasons for this. One, they want to root for a Pennsylvania team. Two, a win by Tom Brady and company would tie Pittsburgh’s record of six Super Bowl wins.

“They want to keep it in PA,” Rhone said about the record. “It’s Steelers country around here by far,” he said, referring to the store. “Nobody likes the Patriots. The fans are optimistic. They are nervous but excited the Eagles are there.”

Sales of Patriots gear is down compared to this time last year, Rhone said.

Wings time

The Three Pines Tavern in Mount Holly Springs is known for its wings, but it was hard for owner Cathy Neff to gauge Thursday whether there is an increase in pre-orders because the Eagles are in the big game.

“We’re doing OK,” Neff said. “It’s steady, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook. A lot of people wait until the last minute to order the wings.”

There are always procrastinators even though the tavern put out signs in the parking lot and postings on its Facebook page urging customers not to wait. Like Bleacher Bums, Three Pines is a bastion of the Steeler Nation.

If the Black and Gold were in the Super Bowl, pre-orders of wings would be outstanding, Neff said. She said an informal survey of customers in her bar told her most Steelers fans will be supporting the Eagles Sunday.

TV for the game

Joe Frantz is the front house manager of the Market Cross Pub in Carlisle. He described the business as more of a craft beer bar than a sports bar. Regardless, there’s so much enthusiasm for Sunday’s game that a decision was made on Wednesday to purchase and install a projection system to boost the size of the main TV screen.

This will be the third year the pub has hosted a Super Bowl party featuring a buffet of tailgate foods. As of Wednesday, 30 more tickets have been sold in advance this year than last year, Frantz said. “It’s definitely a nice little surge.”

Like Three Pines, Market Cross is mostly Steelers territory with a few Eagles fans as regulars. His feel for the clientele is that the majority of football fans will be rooting for Philadelphia to win. Even those who don’t like the Eagles will be behind the team from Pennsylvania.

“Everyone is tired of seeing Tom Brady win,” Frantz said. As quarterback, Brady has led the Patriots to Super Bowl wins in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015 and 2017. An Eagles fan, Frantz is cautiously optimistic. “I don’t want to get too excited, but it definitely seems like a good time for us.”

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Whitney Vaillancourt, left, serves Makayla Buchenauer, middle, and Zada Black at Three Pines Tavern in Mount Holly Springs.

Super Bowl
Super Bowl Ads shy from politics and mind their manners

NEW YORK — Peyton Manning takes a family to Universal Parks & Resorts. Chris Pratt works out to get in shape to tout Michelob Ultra. Bill Hader takes a break on set to snack on some Pringles.

This year’s Super Bowl advertisers are minding their manners. They’re trying hard to steer clear of everything from politics to the #MeToo movement with lightly humorous ads that don’t offend.

The goal is to capture the attention of the 111 million-plus viewers expected to tune in Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots. Thirty-second slots are going for more than $5 million for airtime alone.

Last year, ads that tackled political issues fell flat, like an 84 Lumber ad about immigration. And some thought the recent Grammy Awards’ low ratings were because the show contained too many political moments, such as Hillary Clinton reading from the Trump biography “Fire and Fury.”

People are in the mood for “political-free entertainment,” said Kim Whitler, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia.

Several ads will be taking a light-humor approach with mostly male celebrities. PepsiCo brands Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice are showcased in two 30-second linked spots showing Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage in a lip-sync rap battle.

In a Pringles ad , Bill Hader has a snack on set and introduces a made-up practice dubbed “flavor stacking,” in which he mixes and matches different Pringles varieties. M&Ms enlisted Danny DeVito to embody what happens when a red M&M becomes a person after wishing on a lucky penny.

Keanu Reeves surfs on his motorcycle through the desert in an ad for Squarespace. Chris Elliott lives in a bio dome to tout avocados from Mexico, while “Stranger Things” star David Harbour shows up in Tide’s commercial.

“They’re light hearted and good natured,” Whitler said. “That’s on target with the mood of the country.”

“We’re exposed to so much constant negativity,” said Andy Goeler, a marketing executive at Bud Light. “Delivering something just light hearted and fun is the root at what beer is all about.” The brand’s two spots showcase a mythical kingdom a la “Game of Thrones” centered on Bud Light and the catchphrase “Dilly Dilly.”

Amazon’s 90-second fourth-quarter ad stars a bevy of celebrities who sub for the voice of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant: singer Cardi B, actress Rebel Wilson, star chef Gordon Ramsey and even actor Anthony Hopkins putting a Hannibal Lector spin on things. Leading up to the halftime show, Pepsi’s ad references past celebrities who have appeared in Pepsi Super Bowl ads: Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Cindy Crawford and others.

Nonetheless, two Super Bowl ads are bucking the trend and sidling up to political issues, however obliquely.

Coca-Cola’s anthemic 60-second ad features varieties of Coke, from Coke Zero to the stevia-flavored Coke Life, quaffed by women, men and a person who uses the “they” pronoun.

“There’s a Coke for he, and she and her and me and them,” a voiceover states.

Coca-Cola executives say the ad highlights the diversity the company has always used in its advertising, adding that they consulted African-American and LGBTQ groups among its own employees. A biracial couple and a person in a wheelchair also appear in the spot.

“We want to celebrate all the people that make up the world,” Coca-Cola executive Brynn Bardacke said. “We don’t want to exclude anyone.”

On the other hand, WeatherTech, which makes car mats and other interior car products, has a staunchly pro-American approach in its ad, which shows the construction of a factory that opened late last year.

“At WeatherTech, we built our factory right here in America,” the ad’s text reads. “Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?”

It’s the fifth year WeatherTech has advertised in the Super Bowl touting its all-American operations. Founder and CEO David MacNeil said his ad doesn’t have typical Super Bowl accoutrements — “no ponies, no puppies, no pretty girls” — but said it’s straight to the point about its message.

“Isn’t it just logical to build your own factory in your own country so your own fellow citizens can have jobs?” he said. He said he doesn’t believe the ad might be divisive. “It wouldn’t occur to me that I could offend anyone by supporting my own country,” he said.

While the majority of advertisers release their ads ahead of time to try to drum up publicity, there are some holdouts. Fiat Chrysler usually appears during the game without advance warning. Other advertisers that have remained mum about their plans include E-Trade and Monster Products.

“It may be that advertisers with risky ads are waiting for the game, hoping to protect the surprise and break through the clutter,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University.

2 dead after accident at Manitowoc Crane Manufacturing Plant near Greencastle

Two men are dead after a workplace accident involving a crane in Franklin County.

State Police at Chambersburg responded to Manitowoc Crane Manufacturing Plant in Antrim Township around 8:14 a.m. Friday.

Police said two men are dead, one man is in critical condition, and two other men have minor injuries as a result of the accident at the plant at 1565 Buchanan Trail East, Antrim Township, Franklin County.

The critically injured man was flown to York Hospital. The two victims with minor injuries were taken to Waynesboro Hospital for treatment.

State Police Chambersburg, Franklin County Coroner’s Office, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.