Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

An Unfortunate PR Lesson Emerges in the Desert

Amid the dark cloud of horror and sadness that engulfed our nation upon last weekend’s unspeakable tragedies in Arizona, there lies a glimmer of pride.  Chaos had erupted and a nation sat on the edge of its seat, eager for even the slightest tidbit of news.  In the blink of an eye, Tucson had become the center of the universe, and the University of Arizona became the public face of one of the most gripping news stories in recent history.

It’s not every day a university’s public relations department manages communications for a crisis of this magnitude.  Every media outlet in the nation simultaneously descended on the U of A, which was thrust into the spotlight because many of the victims of Saturday’s attack, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, were being tended to at the university’s medical center.  With the whole world watching, U of A’s PR team masterfully managed a torrent of information (and disinformation), and executed a crisis response that has impressed an entire industry of its peers.

Around-the-clock press conferences.  A dedicated news wire.  Constant twitter updates.  And a team of all-star doctors equally adept at addressing the media as they are at saving lives.

As an alumni and former employee of the U of A public relations department, I couldn’t be prouder.  (If you saw our recent bowl game, you’d know we haven’t had much to be proud of lately.)  Especially when compared to the efforts of the Pima County Sherriff’s Department and the un-corralable rantings of its top cop.

I’m also proud because, as a veteran of many crisis situations, I understand the challenges U of A’s PR team faced and know that it did things the right way.  It was able to respond so quickly and successfully (on a Saturday morning no less) because it followed rule number one of crisis PR:  Be Prepared.

In my time on the U of A PR staff, planning was a key component to everything we did.  Its current PR team had a strategy mapped out well in advance for incidents just like this and many others…and it showed.

U of A’s motto is “Bear Down.”  Kind of fitting given the performance of its leadership in recent days.  It’s also a great bit of advice for the rest of us PR pros as we lament dusting off our crisis communications plans.

LP&A Creates New LinkedIn Group for Water Policy Professionals

Thanks to Laer Pearce & Associates, professionals that work with water policy around the world now have a LinkedIn group where they can discuss topics related to helping set and navigate water policy.  The Water Policy Professionals group encourages members to discuss legislation, communication strategies, regulations, incentives and news regarding policy on water supply, quality and pricing.  It will also include job postings and other networking functions.

Laer set up the group because he believes idea-sharing and open communications can help to find consensus on highly contentious issues – or at least move the discussion forward instead of having it bog down in rhetoric wars.

The group is a sister to LP&A’s other LinkedIn group, Water Conservation Professionals, which has 513 members. Seven people joined Water Policy Professionals in its first 30 minutes.

LP&A has been working on water-related issues for more than 20 years and is actively involved in helping to set policy for water issues on local, regional and state-wide levels.  We currently serve four water and wastewater agencies and CalDesal, a nonprofit advocating for pro-desalination policies and regulation in California.

Quantifying Your Economic Message – Full Version

As featured by the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association

Jobs, jobs, jobs – It’s a winning message for developers and builders right now. We are seeing this message resonate with all of the industry’s key target audiences more than ever, from decision-makers and city staffs to the general public and media. But how can you emphasize jobs when a full economic impact analysis isn’t part of your budget?

Enter the Center for Strategic Economic Research – or CSER.

The Center’s study on the economic “ripple effect” of homebuilding is quantitative confirmation of what we’ve always known: New homes mean more jobs.


  • Every home built creates 2.4 jobs
  • For every $1 spent building a home, $0.9 is generated 
  • Each home generates more than $360,000 in economic activity, excluding the selling price

These are terrific metrics. They are also being used by builders across the state as confirmation of their project’s economic benefit. In fact, the CSER’s Deputy Director, Helen Schaubmayer recently told us that the study could be an immensely valuable tool for builders.

“As a result of this study being updated and published for several years, we are seeing builders leverage jobs-creation messages that they were previously unable to quantify. But builders also need to realize how to package and present these findings to the right audience. If they do, it could go a long way.”

We agree. Even the best jobs message can get cluttered with industry jargon. And having clarity to your message – especially one as important as jobs – is critical to a successful project.

Take a moment to review the study. We’ve also been told by the research director that a 2010 study is in the works and may be available this summer, so we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Why the Old Ways of Talking Water No Longer Work

Amidst a recent hectic afternoon, one of our clients called to pick our brain about what LP&A sees as the latest trends in water agency communications.  Although it admittedly caught us off guard, it’s a great question that couldn’t have been posed at a better time, given the uncertainty of California’s water future and the swirling dynamics of public sentiment.  We share our answer below, but the bottom line is that the old ways of doing business no longer work in today’s changing environment.  Here’s why:

1. Water is no longer an issue that flies under the radar. These days water providers are asking a lot from their customers: Use less, pay more, vote for this (within the advocacy laws), don’t mind that sinkhole or pipe break.  Agencies that foster trusting relationships with their customers through proactive communications will reap the most benefits.


Communications that Change Behaviors

If you want effective communications, be an authority first and foremost – not a cheerleader.

In this issue, let’s look at the peripheral canal debate to see how different communication styles can have a huge impact on behavior.

In July, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) published Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which concluded that a peripheral canal was the most promising strategy for saving the Delta and meeting the state’s demand for water. In September, the Pacific Institute countered with More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California that found that reduced water use by California agriculture could negate the need for a canal.