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Session Chair: Morgan Knighton, Gray & Osborne, Inc.;
Location:Boise Centre West 120A Boise Centre Ground level
ID: 275 / Session 03A part 1: 1 Main Technical Program Topics: Outreach/Communications Keywords: Strategic, Communications, Outreach, Support
Strategic Communications Can Build Awareness, Mobilize Support, Engage Critical Decision Makers, And Help Utilities Maintain Positive Perception While Securing Funding For Infrastructure Renewal
Kim Pallari, Teresa Platin
HDR, United States of America;
Utility infrastructure is critical to functioning communities; yet the public have little understanding until issue arises or rates increase. To build a positive reputation while securing funds to renew or replace aging assets, utilities must take a programmatic approach to communication. The right plan can alter perception and position districts for successful, supported and smart growth. This presentation demonstrates how to employ strategic communications to strengthen public trust.
San Antonio Water System (SAWS) operates large, complex systems that provide vital services, however information was lost in translation between high quality services and a customer’s bill on the kitchen table. To close that gap, SAWS began engaging personally and dynamically with customers. Using data-driven technology emphasizing visual design, SAWS’ real-time capital project map website showed how SAWS’ investments benefit the community and environment. These efforts paved the way for SAWS’ investments in capital improvement projects to comply with mandated sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) reductions.
In 2005 the City of Sacramento began installing meters to 105,000 connections and updating aging pipes to comply with State Mandate. The City secured several funding sources to accelerate the Water Infrastructure Improvement Program while minimizing customer financial burdens. This example will explore controversy the City faced and how they conquered it through rebranded themselves, their program and communication tactics to educate, repair damage and create good will. New messaging and brand identity created the framework for implementation of traditional and innovative online tactics to reach the diverse audiences. As the City continues, creative leave behinds guide customers on topics like reading your bill and water conversation.
Padre Dam Utility Water District provides quality drinking water, recycled water and wastewater management. Their 2015 Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan (CFMP) provides long range planning and reflects issues, trends, regulations and analysis to provide recommendations for improvements over the next 25 years. To ensure the 400 page technical document would accurately tell their Master Plan story and build support amongst all target audiences from decision makers to the customer, the District reimagined the document in a highly visual way by reinventing the key messages within a 10 page graphical brochure.
Brief Biography and/or Qualifications Ms. Pallari leads HDR’s in-house Strategic Communications and Public Involvement group with 19 years experience as a project manager who focuses her expertise in conducting effective communications, education, and outreach programs for large and small infrastructure projects in community planning, water/waste water, transportation, environmental, federal and healthcare. She has extensive hands-on experience in developing and implementing multi-faceted and strategic public involvement programs for local, state, federal, and commercial clients during early planning, through environmental (CEQA and NEPA processes) and into design and construction phases; often working as an extension of staff and lead liaison with the community. Her experience affords her the ability to work within highly complex and technical environments to bridge communications with the public, understand their issues, and work collaboratively to address concerns and solve problems ensuring the project stays on track. Kim’s experience includes working within rural or urban settings to engage a wide and diverse target audience that spans the general public to local, regional, and state leaders
ID: 271 / Session 03A part 1: 2 Main Technical Program Topics: Outreach/Communications Keywords: strategic communications, transparency, utility management
Transparency Is Just Telling It Like It Is – Isn’t It?
Nicki Pozos, Libby Barg
Barney & Worth, United States of America;
Ratepayers are telling utilities they want transparency in how decisions are made and projects are implemented. Technical professionals often interpret transparency as being based solely on facts, thinking of transparency as just the accurate transmittal of technical information. But to the public, transparency is not just about the information – it’s a feeling. One of the main barriers to feeling transparent is when information is complex and difficult to understand, even if it is accurate. It gives the feeling information is being occluded, even if that is not the intent.
This presentation will discuss approaches to convey in information in a way that is both technically accurate and feels transparent. The presentation will include audience interaction, having participants practice transforming complex information into easy-to-understand text.
Brief Biography and/or Qualifications Nicki Pozos brings a diverse background, encompassing a PhD in Civil Engineering, former work as a life coach, and current work helping leaders evolve their relationships with their staff, themselves, and their communities. Nicki was a founder of the Portland Women in Leadership Symposium and a new organization, Women Leading Water, dedicated to creating a more equitable future. She aspires to be the world’s first engineering psychologist, bringing engineering thinking to understanding what makes people tick!