Access to Higher Ed
A to Z of Indian Age of Authoritarian Democracy Communication Effect Communication Skills A Vehicle On The Road Corporate Governance Investing in the Emerging Daily Politics Blog How to Find Democracy at Its Best E Governance Election of the President of Pakistan Five Tips For the Best Queen Friendship and Politics Can They Mix Government Bids Top 10 Tips Government Contract Proposal Writing Tips Handle the Argumentative Communicator and Difficult How Ancient Greek Democracy Worked How Does a Bee Become the Queen If President Obama Were My Patient Ignoring Importance Of Communication Is A Direct Importance of an Effective Community Relations Introduction and Brief History Is President Obama Channeling President Richard Issues Which Are Plaguing Local Self Government In New Jersey Monkey Cage Democracy Moving to Queens New York O P Bhatnagar A Poet Perestroika and Democracy in Russia Political Discourse and Participatory Politics The Ugliest Fascination on Earth Post capitalist Free Market Economy President Barack Obama Must President Bush and Pyramid Numerology Problems In Managing Government Purim Why Did the Womanizer Queen Bee Rearing Queen Hatshepsut Egypts Queen Queen Honeybees Are Made Not Born Queens of Amsterdam Quest for Democracy in Ethiopia Secrets to Becoming a Master Serious Defects in Modern Democracy Seven American Presidents Have Uranus Six Myths of Effective Communication The 2008 Election Results Dysfunctional The Art of Communicating The Government GIP The History of Cornish Independence The Meaning Of Queen The Pope And The President The Role of Government The Significance of the Queen The Top Five US Presidents Top 10 US Presidents True Democracy US Government Sales Marketing US Presidents That Went to Harvard Understanding the Communication Process The Key to Organisational What Is The Best Suitable What is Political Science Where Now For European Why Workplace Politics Charts the Path
5 Major Benefits of Leasing A Basic Guide To Generating Revenue Apartment Property Management Audi Business Leasing Automated Recoveries Key Can Property Management Make a Finance Difference Commercial Agents Sales Presentation Commercial Property Management Commercial Property Contract Hire Information Do You Need Property Management Does Employee Leasing Make Sense Dubai Property Management Employee Leasing Lover Employment Leasing HR Management Expediter Truck Service Financial Analysis for Workplace Lease Five Considerations of Hiring Property For Property Management Jobs Freehold And Leasehold Property Government Bidding Glossary (pt 1 2) Green Car Scheme How Property Owners Benefit How To Break Apartment Lease How To Evaluate Management Software Importance of Lease Abstraction Internet Based Lease Accounting Is Pre-Pack Administration Right for Finance Lease Administration Software Lease Management Software Lease Or Get Property Lease Your Next Car or Fleet Leasing Office Equipment Leasing Software And Fleet Management Let The Property Management Do the Job Make Finding a Property Easier Make Finding a Property Management Company Make Property Management Effective Oklahoma City Property Management Companies Property Management Company for Business Property Management Fees Explained Property Management on the Rise Renegotiating a Commercial Lease Shopping for a Property Tenants Obligations Under Commercial Property The Best Atlanta Apartments The Evolution Of Property Top 9 Questions to Ask Uncover Which Property Management Jobs Waterloo Property Management What Is Staff Leasing What Type Of Property Owners Look For What You Will Get From Property Why It's Important to Get Property Why You Need Property Managers orleans Property Management Company Why You Should Hire Manager Workflow Automation In The Leasing Empirian property management - Law
Importance of an Effective Community Relations Program
There are some powerful relationship realities between various community groups and organizations. Constituents are asking more questions; decisions are taking longer. Very small forces, sometimes individuals, can stop very big ideas and projects. People without credentials have enormous credibility. Corporations and institutions must prove their validity, honesty, and trustworthiness every day. Most public debate and discussion, on issues that matter, are focused more on embarrassment, humiliation, and blame shifting than on achieving beneficial progress.
In today's environment of public suspicion, gaining and maintaining public consent to operate has become an on-going, top management concern for most businesses and large organizations. Community relationships are effectively maintained primarily through engagement with various publics and audiences within the community and your organization.
It is often stated that community relations are "public relations at the local level" or that it is "living right and telling about it." It has also been explained as "having and keeping friends in the community." These statements get to the heart of community relations, but they are oversimplified definitions when the vital mission of community relations is analyzed clearly.
Community relations is the function that evaluates public attitudes, identities the mission of an organization with the public interest and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. Like public relations, community relations is something an organization has whether this fact is recognized or not. Unlike public relations, community relations is usually limited to the local area. Business organizations give attention to their community relations for good reason. Organizations can exist and make a profit only as long as the public allows them to exist. The concept that American free enterprise exists only to make a profit and is responsible only to its official family has diminished to a great degree. It has fast given way to the realization that there is also a responsibility to the community in which the organization is located and that it is advisable for the organization to meet this responsibility of its own free will. While there is not universal agreement on the specific benefits gained, organizations conducting planned programs cite many tangible and intangible benefits from their community relations efforts. Benefits from good community relations do not come automatically. In fact, many organizations that are fine employers and outstanding corporate citizens fail to realize the rewards to which their virtues entitle them. They miss the payoff because they fail to tell about it. Communicating to key publics the benefits derived from sound community relations further enhances an organization's overall program. Attitude surveys reveal that community neighbors traditionally know little about companies in their towns and the important part each plays in the civic programs of their towns.
Like so many specific disciplines within the practice of public relations, the work done by community relations practitioners is extremely complex. And yet, if you leaf through the general public relations texts, you won't find much discussion about "community relations."
It's probably because community relations activities emulate the work done by public relations practitioners on a regular basis (that is, carefully researched, targeted communications to achieve an organizational goal -- community acceptance and support). Consequently, the authors probably didn't think it necessary to break out community relations activities from the work that's done every day.
None-the-less, community relations deserve some serious discussion. Basically, what good, effective community relations does is involve the people, businesses and organizations who live, work and operate in the surrounding community in company activities.
A company does not live in a vacuum. The citizens and groups that populate its geographic operating area are essential to its operation. The employees live in the community; they very likely grew up there. The company banks in the community. Municipal, county and state governments set the parameters by which the company can operate.
As a result, a successful organization must continuously establish understanding and support for its products, services and positions among those publics important to its welfare. And you only get this by applying good public relations principles over time.
In the spring of 2002, Aquarion acquired four American New England water utilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. The sale added some 177,000 people, or 64,000 homes and businesses, to the approximate 147,000 homes and businesses or 500,000 people to whom Aquarion's water utilities already provided quality water.
To effect a smooth transition for existing and new Aquarion Water Company customers and other constituents, Aquarion formulated and implemented a major internal and external communications effort to educate all the companies' publics of pre- and post-merger activities and created awareness of and position Aquarion as an industry, environmental and community leader.
As well, the company planned and implemented an education plan to not only form a stronger bond with the customers of Aquarion Water Company, but to address a variety of public, community relations and critical water supply issues in the company's service areas of both Massachusetts (Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Oxford, and Millbury) and New Hampshire (Hampton, North Hampton, and Rye).
The issues - local control, water rates, water supply and regionalization - are interrelated. As one issue is addressed it impacts the others and thus complicates Aquarion Water Company operational and public relations challenges.
Additionally, Aquarion's need to call upon community leaders, state lawmakers and other opinion leaders was hindered by the predecessor company's traditional low profile. Management was not encouraged to become part of the fabric of the communities where it operates or to actively communicate with the media. Therefore, the company's visibility had historically been low. Also, help with water supply matters was almost non-existent.
In the ensuing four years, especially the last two, much progress has been made. In both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, good community, media and government relations are evidenced by successes in a Millbury perchlorate situation, a Cohasset Interconnection, and a Hampton takeover referendum.
In 2005, Aquarion went before the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission seeking a rate increase. This caused water issues to bubble up on the agendas of elected and appointed officials in its service towns. Notably, one individual, Henry Fuller, chair of the North Hampton Water Commission, began a personal campaign to thwart the rate increase. He used the visible condition of fire hydrants to allege the lack of service and therefore the lack of need for a rate increase. He also raised the issue of municipal takeover.
Two years before, Aquarion found itself in a similar position in another of its service towns, Hampton, New Hampshire. There, a selectmen proposed a warrant article to appoint a special committee to study the possible acquisition of Aquarion Water Company. Larry Bingaman, Aquarion's senior vice president was denied the opportunity to speak at the deliberative town meeting.
We developed an aggressive campaign with the slogan " WHY STUDY A FIX FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN'T BROKE?" to educate voters about the accomplishments of Aquarion since the merger, as well as the potential costs of an eminent domain case. We utilized direct mail to all Hampton residents and met with reporters individual to present our key messages. The result was a 4:1defeat of the referendum.
Lessons were learned. Aquarion needed to develop a community relations program. It reached out to all the media covering its service town, local government officials, and formed a customer advisory committee comprised of representatives from its service towns.
When the idea of an eminent domain takeover emerged in North Hampton, Aquarion was better able to respond. The media not only presented a balanced account of the issues raised, but also questioned the proponents as to the viability of the idea. The Customer Advisory Committee was able to identify other key North Hampton opinion leaders with whom we met to present our key messages.
These messages were:
o Educate customers on the value of high-quality water and reiterate, as appropriate, the investments that have been made in the water systems to try to defuse conflicts due to inevitable water rates increases.
o Promote the perception that Aquarion Water is a responsive entity that's concerned about providing the highest quality water service available for the most economical cost. Use examples of increased operations efficiency.
o Inform customers of Aquarion Water's actions and investments to ensure that it continues to mitigate future rate increases.
o Communicate the value of Aquarion Water Company of New Hampshire if taken by eminent domain and dispel the perception that the towns of Hampton, North Hampton and Rye could purchase the company and operate it at lower rates.
o Demonstrate through actions that Aquarion is a caring, community minded company that seeks to put something back in the towns where it operates through volunteerism, philanthropy, community service and sponsorships.
In general, all the strategies were designed to educate and keep Aquarion's New Hampshire North Hampton constituents informed of such pertinent matters as infrastructure investments, water quality, community involvement, land and other activities. Communications were targeted to specific audience groups based on areas of interest. The Aquarion Web site was promoted as a key communications vehicle in which articles and opinion papers were posted. A "Fire Chiefs Council" was created that enabled Aquarion to hear first hand from the fire chiefs of its three service towns water issues. And, employees were kept informed and provided an outlet for their concerns. The end result was a 60:40 defeat of the warrant article.
And what were the lessons learned?
Aquarion needed to identify all its constituents in order to tell the community about the company. These constituents include
o Government Officials,
o Town CEOs,
o Board of Selectmen,
o Water Supply Committees,
o Opinion Leaders,
Most Innovative Ranges of rugged monitor. Monitors in the Industry.
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2013 Howard Samuels Center