August 6, 2013
PresterJohn brought these lessons learned (and written in our blog) to the Canadian energy-from-waste industry, resulting in exponential growth over a reasonably modest timeframe.
But the true measure of success may not actually be realized for a few more years, as there are now dozens of communities across the country with the widest possible range of demographics – from small seasonal villages to mid-sized cities to large urban agglomerations – that are currently investigating their waste management options, knowing that EFW is safe, sustainable and affordable.
And it’s all because the industry embraced a best practices approach to communications, business development and advocacy.
Focus on a Long-Term Strategy
August 5, 2013
Faced with difficult public policy challenges, communities everywhere are searching for new, innovative solutions. However, “new” can lead to “controversy,” which can result in an unnecessarily long and difficult road to approval and implementation.
Moreover, in seeking to produce a transparent and predictable result regardless of time or cost, public officials do not face the same expectations as private vendors, so the process seldom reflects a balance of interests. Whereas private companies want to economize on costs and reduce timelines, public officials seek to maximize citizen input and minimize any unnecessary externalities.
But with a diligent strategy based on delivering genuine community benefits, gaining the support of a strong political champion and engaging a balanced, well-rounded team, project proponents can turn a skeptical public and critical media into supporters and champions, as well as winning over public opinion and acquiring regulatory approval.
Be Patient with the Media, Speak Slowly, a Little Louder Perhaps
August 4, 2013
Serendipity is not a strategy, and hoping for positive media coverage is the easiest way to lose control of the agenda.
Good news is never good enough; selling the “controversy” is too easy. Moving forward productively means accepting the fact that it may not be possible to get media entirely on-side, and that just a handful of opponents may continually garner more sensational attention than the most unbiased and dedicated broadcast/press campaign.
Quite often, the most well researched article will lie waiting for publication when there is a project opponent sowing baseless stories of fear. Circulating background information in the form of simple, honest, unbiased documentation is key.
Editorial board meetings are a highly effective means of modifying media perspectives and attitudes. Negative coverage should be addressed promptly in the form of letters to the editor, opinion pieces and freelance articles. Persistence is critical.