What Makes Water Agency Communications Work
LP&A has nearly two decades of experience working with many of Southern California’s most prominent water providers to create programs that educate stakeholders, change public behavior and accomplish strategic objectives. Over that period, we’ve developed a time-tested approach to successful water agency outreach that is grounded in key principles that we like to call “the Four Pillars of Water Agency Communications.”
LP&A believes water district communications require building and maintaining trust. Trust makes it easier to convince customers to conserve. Trust can protect an agency’s reputation if an accident occurs or if infrastructure repairs are needed. Trust makes rate increases or changes in rate structure more easily accepted. And trust makes it more likely legislators and regulators will support an agency’s objectives. Trust is built through a mix of regular, consistent and truthful communications that explain complex matters in a customer-friendly way, and by providing opportunities for two-way dialogue that allow ratepayers and stakeholders to play an active role in their water agency. LP&A has helped water districts build trust for nearly two decades. Our approach protects and builds upon the reservoir of trust an agency has previously amassed, and directs it toward the District’s current objectives.
Water agencies regularly deal with complex issues and regulations, like Proposition 218, the BDCP, SDWA, CEQA, NEPA, ESA, and the Clean Water Act. The trick is making these topics understandable and relevant to your target audiences. For most agencies, it can be as simple as clearly communicating the need to conserve while rates climb higher. Alternatively, it could be as complex as conveying a district’s position on a key issue in a manner that motivates action by regulators or other elected officials. LP&A’s Clutter In/Clarity Out approach sees that our clients’ strategic objectives are regularly met.
LP&A approaches every communications task by placing ourselves in the shoes of the target audience and asking, “What’s in it for me?” It’s only human nature for audiences to consider the greater good only after considering how an issue may affect them personally. It’s also an unfortunate reality that most members of the public and many stakeholders are not heavily engaged in water issues. As such, we must tailor our messages and strategies in terms of their impact on the target audience. What are the benefits to them? What are the impacts? How will their lives change? These personal-level issues must be addressed before audiences will be open to considering the bigger picture. We’re experts in making sure water agencies have the proper perspective in their strategic communications.
Water agencies operate using public funds, so they have an obligation to be as efficient as possible. Without clearly defined goals, public agencies can slip into “communicating for communication’s sake,” squandering staff time and financial resources without achieving sufficient benefit. Communications efforts that are designed to accomplish specific, measurable goals ensure ratepayer-funded communication activities are supportable. All LP&A communications strategies are focused on seeing that goals and budgets are set and met.
This entry was posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014 at 11:34 am and is filed under communication, Government, LP&A, media, messaging, outreach, public relations, Uncategorized, Water. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.