‘CommunicationStrategiesCommunication StrategiesDescriptionRequired ActivityCommunication strategies are plans for communicating information related to a specific issue, event,situation, or audience. They serve as the blueprintsfor communicating with the public, stakeholders, oreven colleagues.No.Communication strategies should: outline the objective/goals of the communication,identify stakeholders,define key messages,pinpoint potential communication methods andvehicles for communicating information for aspecific purpose, andspecify the mechanisms that will be used toobtain feedback on the strategy.Communication strategies do not have to beformal written documents. They can simplyinvolve taking the time to think about a communication problem or issue and determining the bestapproach for communicating the message orinformation. Such an approach is especially truefor simple issues that need to be conveyed aboutlow-risk sites that have not generated a high levelof public concern. However, at sites with highlevels of public concern or site cleanup issues thatare expected to be controversial, a more formalwritten strategy may be needed to ensure that allstakeholders are reached and all key messagesare communicated effectively.Communication strategies are different fromCommunity Involvement Plans (CIPs), which arerequired under the National Contingency Plan. ACIP is a site-specific overall plan to enable meaningful community involvement throughout theSuperfund cleanup process. A communicationstrategy can be one component of a CIP, but itaddresses a specific event, issue, or concern, suchas an emergency response to a release, or communicating risk at a site. The CIP, on the other hand,describes an overall strategy for conveying andreceiving information throughout the cleanupprocess at a site.Making it WorkWhen significant events or issues arise, a communication strategy can help organize the informationthat needs to be communicated, identify concernsthat may be raised, and ensure the proper audiences are reached.WhyThe first step toward developing a communicationstrategy is to determine the reason why the communication is necessary and defining the desiredobjectives. You, as the Community InvolvementCoordinator (CIC), should ask yourself, “What isthe issue to which EPA is responding?” or “What isthe action that EPA is taking that warrants development of a communication strategy?” before determining the need for the communication. CICsshould then ask themselves, “What do we want toaccomplish by communicating this information?”Objectives may include: providing information;increasing awareness;encouraging action;building consensus;changing behavior;promoting community participation;resolving conflict, orasking for input.WhoOnce your reason for communicating is determined,you can focus on defining the audiences you needto reach and how you want to reach them. Askyourself the following questions: Who is involved, affected, interested?Is there an obvious audience?Are there others who may be affected?Are there traditionally underrepresented groupsthat need to be reached?1
Communication Strategies What information does each stakeholder alreadyhave?What information does each stakeholder need?What are their concerns?How is each stakeholder likely to react?”Keep in mind that the demographics, knowledge,and concerns of your audiences play an importantrole in determining the key messages.message will increase if the same message isdistributed several times and via multiple methods.Keep in mind you may have different communication goals and therefore may need to use differentcommunication tools for different groups of people.Delivery methods can include: What Once the previous steps are complete, you mayschedule a meeting with the site RPM or OSC andother members of the site team to discuss thecommunication challenges facing them. Thisdiscussion could involve coordinating with all SiteTeam members about community involvement goalsand objectives and might involve brainstorming andprioritizing potential messages. Focus on two orthree key messages and rank them by importance,timeliness, or other factors. It is possible that youhave key messages that are only constructed forone or two of your identified audiences.HowOnce you have identified your key messages, youneed to determine the vehicle for delivering yourmessages. Keep in mind that you may choosedifferent mechanisms to meet different stakeholderneeds. Here are a few options: Availability session/open houseCelebrations/special eventsElectronic media, including email, e.g., list servesor websiteFace-to-face meetings with key stakeholdersFocus groupsMedia, including cable TV, display ads, newsreleases, and press conferenceOn-scene activitiesPublic hearingsPublic meetingsPublic or private schoolsSocial media tools, e.g., YouTube, Facebook,TwitterWorkshopsAs a CIC, you should be able to determine how youwant to deliver your message to produce the bestresults. Note that the reach and impact of your2 BriefingsExhibitsFact SheetsInternetMailingsPresentationsPublic noticesResponsiveness summariesTelephoneTranslation of documents into other languagesspoken by community membersVideosExample 1: Opportunity for Public Reviewand Comment of Proposed PlanOne CIC faced the challenge of informingstakeholders about an opportunity toreview and comment on the proposedcleanup plan. After identifying the message and the audience, the CIC decided tohold a public meeting to announce theopportunity and to invite interested partiesto a public participation workshop. Byholding the public meeting at a library ona Saturday afternoon, he captured a wideraudience than if he had held it during aweeknight. He then identified participantsto attend a workshop for the followingSaturday. The workshop included information about: 1) requirements for publicreview of and comment on site activities; 2)documents supporting the proposed plan,and how the proposed plan is organized;and 3) how citizens can maximize theircontributions. A workshop handoutoffered step-by-step instructions forreviewing the site information (includingwhat to look for) and for filing comments.The result: more than half of the workshopattendees submitted comments on theproposed cleanup plan.
Communication StrategiesDelivering Your MessageIn assessing your total communication strategy, askyourself, “What resources are readily available tome to communicate my message?” Once you haveidentified your needs and resources, review potential constraints you might face and develop strategies for overcoming these challenges. Determinewhen the communication will be best received.Determining the best timing involves thinking aboutwhether your audiences prefer to be reached onweekdays or weekends, mornings or evenings, atwork, or at home. Keep in mind that communitydemographics play an important role in determiningthe best methods for message delivery. Olderpopulations or communities in remote locations maynot be comfortable with or have access to theInternet, and some ethnic groups may prefer radioor a community newspaper to television as a newssource. Build in time for producing materials andadvance notice of events.MediaThe media can play an important role in the communication process. Therefore, if your communication strategy includes use of the media to conveyyour message, you should work closely with yourregional site press officer to ensure that the localmedia has the most important and accurate information about the issue or event that you want tocommunicate to your audience. Know the mediadeadlines in advance and take these into consideration when timing your communication.Budget ConsiderationsMany of the best communication strategies also arethe most cost-effective, but sometimes a communication strategy will require communication methodsthat take considerable resources. Therefore, it isimportant for CICs to know the resources that areavailable to them and to take possible resourcelimitations into consideration when developing thecommunication strategy. While simple word-ofmouth information exchanges can be free andeffective for communicating some messages, youmay determine that your message will be moreeffectively delivered via a vehicle that will requireresources. For example, while holding a televisedpress event or a press conference may be muchmore resource-intensive, it may end up being theExample 2: Deletion of the site from the NPLAt a Superfund site where the cleanup wascompleted, enabling site deletion from theNPL, the CIC crafted one final communication strategy. First, she recognized thather challenge was to reach a broadaudience. The CIC also realized thatcommunicating a deletion from the NPLshould include both State and regionalofficials who could give the cleanupsuccess the attention it deserved by holding news conferences or communicatingwith their elected representatives. Thesuccessful site cleanup was primarily dueto community partnerships and an important technological advancement developedat the site that cut cleanup time by 50%—these became the focus of her message.Once she had considered her audienceand framed the message, she reviewed themany delivery vehicles available to her.She decided that delivering the messagevia network/cable television or a frontpage newspaper article would garner thehigh visibility communication that the storywarranted. By pushing the technologicalangle, her messages got front-page coverage in the major city newspaper, and werepicked up by the local television station.more effective strategy if television coverage is thepreferred medium for conveying your message.Similarly, you may determine that you cannot relyon e-mail to notify stakeholders of an upcomingevent, and will have to mail notices.FeedbackWhen delivering your key messages, ensure yourmessages are clearly communicated and haveintegrity. Encourage your audience to providefeedback after the message is delivered. Thisfeedback will help you to evaluate the implementationof your strategy, its strengths and weaknesses, how itcan be improved, and how your strategy should berevised to ensure continued effectiveness. Somesimple feedback methods include taking note of howmany people attended a public meeting; televisionstation viewership numbers during the time your story3
Communication Strategiesran; or how many “hits” there were on your websitenews posting. Finally, review the feedback andcontinue to refine your communication strategy inresponse to the feedback you receive. Considerfollowing up, in a one-to-one fashion, with a fewmembers of the audience for their feedback.Remember, you will develop several communication strategies during the Superfund cleanupprocess. You may be able to develop some communication strategies in advance for milestonesand events that are known in advance, such asannouncing the public comment period for theROD or a construction completion. In other cases,you may develop a more involved communicationstrategy, such as for communicating risk, or youmay develop a communication strategy for unforeseen events, such as an unexpected release at thesite. In any case, the basic approach is similar:outlining the issue and associated key messages,defining the key stakeholders, pinpointing potentialcommunications vehicles or methods, consideringthe resources available, and specifying feedbackmechanisms that allow you to monitor responsesto the messages,. Refine your strategy, if appropriate, and evaluate the effort. Keep in mind that theSite Team should form a strong collaborativerelationship with people both inside and outside theAgency to help the community identify contactswho may be able to address community concernsoutside the scope of the Superfund program.Tips 4Your communication strategy should define themost important ideas to communicate.Consult with the site’s Community InvolvementPlan (CIP) to help characterize the community,including their needs, concerns, interests, andexpectations.Work with your press office to develop andimplement the communication strategy, particularly at milestone events in the Superfund process.Document successes and shortcomings to learnhow your strategy might be improved.Revise your communication strategy if it is notproducing results.Consult your communication strategy often toremind yourself of your goals, messages, andaudiencesConsider adding formal communication strategiesas addendums to the site’s CIP.Attachments Attachment 1–Sample CommunicationStrategies WorksheetYou may find it helpful to refer to this sampleworksheet when drafting your communicationstrategy. We have used the information given inExample 1: Opportunity for Public Reviewand Comment of Proposed Plan (on page 2) tofill in the sample worksheet.Attachment 2–Blank CommunicationStrategies WorksheetOther Resources Communicating Understanding of ContaminatedLand Risks–Final Report, May 2010, Chapters3, 4 and 5. Sniffer Project This report is guidance for local authorities inthe UK in the development of site-specific riskcommunication strategies in accordance with UKenvironmental regulations. Topics exploredinclude timing of messages, media interaction,perceptions of risk and contamination, simplifying science for citizens, and identifying stakeholders. Provided in the report are specificrecommendations for developing effectivecommunication strategies and practical guidanceon communicating about land contamination.Sniffer Risk Communication Booklet: Communicating understanding of contaminated land risks, 2010.This practical handbook was written for useby Scottish and Northern Irish local authorityofficers, environment agencies, consultants,communication and health professionals,developers, landowners, and other stakeholders. It was designed to be a convenient andeasy-to-use reference that complements theCommunicating Understanding of Contaminated L