CWMTF 2010 Communications Plan


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Overview of the 2010 communications strategy for the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, by Lisa Schell.

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  • The communications plan for 2010 has three main objectives –three specific goals we are looking to accomplish via the tools I will outline in just a few moments.In this first one, we seek to make the connection with the public that North Carolina cannot have a healthy economy without water supplies that are protected and open space that is conserved.Our program has ALWAYS been connected to the economy, but its focus from creation was on its environmental impact; after all CWMTF’s roots are in the environmental disasters and issues that plagued our state some 15 years ago. Unfortunately, right now, in the wake of the greatest recession this nation has felt since the Great Depression, the public focus is no longer on those issues, but the economic ones. Major fish kills in the Neuse River basin that would have been front page news in the News and Observer 15 years ago hardly get any ink now, whereas unemployment, bank failures, and program cuts, as well as governmental scandal are what the headlines are all about now.
  • The plan also seeks to make the link in the public’s eye between the CWMTF program and economic recovery….
  • Thirdly, the plan’s goal is to communicate that the dollars spent via CWTMT’s grants are a luxury our state can do without as our economy gets back on track, and that our appropriation and the projects it supports is part of economic recovery and stimulus in its own right.
  • Any communication plan must consider the barriers standing in the way of meeting those objectives, in order to craft the best strategies to overcome them.There are two primary ones facing CWMTF in 2010: the state’s economic situation and the way the traditional news media has changed and is continuing to change.
  • Richard has/will discuss the fiscal outlook for the state in more detail….however as long as there is uncertainty about the state’s budget situation, and as long as there is uncertainty over whether state agencies will be forced to take even more cuts, making the case that funding for grant programs like ours will be difficult. We continue to fight the perception, despite recent editorials to the contrary, that land acquisition is a luxury at a time when jobs are being lost, people cannot afford health care and education is being compromised.
  • The fiscal challenge is largely about perception and priorities.The second challenge deals with impediments to actually getting CWMTF’s messages out the public in order to counter those perceptions.The economy and other factors –including the rise and prominence of non-traditional online information sources - have created massive changes in news rooms all across the state’s media outlets. Nowhere has that impact been felt more dramatically than in newspapers. Staff cutbacks have left fewer reporters to cover all beats. That means the “hotter” issues are driving decisions on what gets covered, especially where government is concerned.
  • Business decisions and the downturn in the economy, combined with major changes in the way consumers get their news has resulted in massive layoffs all across the country in news rooms and North Carolina is no exception.That means there are fewer reporters to cover all the issues….Rise of Web-based informationLayoffs = fewer reporters to cover moreExtreme controversy driving decisions
  • Changes in the way consumers get their information is a significant factor all across the country, but here in North Carolina, according to the Rural Internet Access Authority, internet usage in all sectors of the state have risen dramatically.The figures you see in front of you are from 2004, so there is a six year lag in this data; it is reasonable to assume these numbers have only gone up. 2004- 66% of rural residents were net users, up from only 15% in 2002…..Location no Longer a Significant Barrier to getting on the internet…..Nationally: 74% of American Adults use the Net60% use it on a Broadband Connection at Home55% Connect Wirelessly with a Laptop or Smartphone
  • And more people on the net means more people are getting their news that way. A 2008 Pew Research Center Study showed for the first time that the Internet has SURPASSED all other media except TV as an outlet for news.40% of all adult Americans get their information from the net – up from 24% in 2007For first time in a Pew study, more people say they rely on the Internet more than they do newspapersThis and the other economic factors I mentioned has lead to massive layoffs across the state in news operations….
  • This is a quick snap shot of what has happened at the larger papers in the state….and these these are the papers that cover us the most – they are the hardest hit.The buyout of Knight Ridder by the McClatchy company forced the consodation of N and O and the Charlottte Observer….both those papers just had another round of cuts this year totalling 46 people.The Ap had a 10% cutVA Pilot is only major source of coverage in NE NCOver all, there have been over 500 posistions lost in NEWSPAPERS alone last year…..not including layoffs at most tv stations and radio news operations which were already downsized.So….what does this mean?
  • There simply aren’t enough reporters to cover CWMTF they way they used to in the past; and it means govt. coverage in general is suffering, And it’s decisions on what to cover are being driven by controversy.
  • But, we obviously still have messages we need to get out….messages that communicate the objectives of this plan, and what we want to say about CWMTF.There are four key messages that this communication plan will articulate……
  • The action items I will explain in just a moment will drive these messages home….first that our grants are just as important to our economy as they are to our state’s natural resources….
  • Second, that it would be farsighted to neglect the water quality needs of this state during this challenging time.
  • ALL of our grant program areas benefit the state’s economy and its recovery – not just our infrastructure projects.
  • And finally, Once the economic crisis is over,CWMTF must be able to continue to do this important work.
  • The plan and its delivery components will aim these messages at four major groups:
  • This is the nuts and bolts part of the communications plan-we will meet our objects and deliver our messages through these avenues – in much the same way our communication plans have in the past, with some new and renewed emphasis in a couple of places.
  • Let’s take a look at what we have been doing over the course of the last few months. With regard to the traditional media, which the help of an ad hoc committee of several trustees, including Ms. Rash, Mr. Vaughn, Mr. Wright, Ms. Cragnolin and others….we launched a campaign to place op-eds or guest columns in several newspapers across the state….
  • we were successful in getting them in the largest paper in North Carolina, and two of the largest. Currently, we are working with Chairman Baddour and Mr. Henderson and Mr. Beane on getting the pieces in their regional papers.
  • we were successful in getting them in the largest paper in North Carolina, and two of the largest. Currently, we are working with Chairman Baddour and Mr. Henderson and Mr. Beane on getting the pieces in their regional papers.
  • We did a limited amount of public events in 2009, largely because of the economy – specifically the state-imposed travel restrictions combined with the impact on our funding. Most of what we did last year was a shift from Public Information to Public Relations – aimed at keeping our stakeholders informed of everything that was happening with the frozen grants.We did that through routine email listserve communications, our Facebook page, which was launched during that time and through on the ground contact with our field reps who regularly interact with stakeholders and the public at several types of community meetings.
  • To help both the field reps and stakeholders and the executive director communicate our key message of connection to the economy, we produced a one-page fact sheet that was available on the web, and was easily reproduced. This was a tool for the field reps in their outreaches in the community as well as to Richard and others at the General Assembly.Numerous sets of talking points went along with the fact sheet.
  • While it has become harder to do public events, and harder to get the dwindling number of reporters out to cover them when we do, we have turned toward the New Media to get our own message out, both because it is a growing medium and an increasingly effective tool, but also because the Governor has given all state agencies a mandate to do so.This is not the only way to get our messages out – we are not abandoning the traditional media at all, just including this in our efforts. It is a great way to cross promote with our partners, and a way to communicate with stakeholders.Currently – 137 followers on Twitter, 108 fans on Facebook: DENR Twitter: 96, Museum, 114, DFR: 81, NC CAMA: 8, NCDOT Main site: 675, Sierra Club NC: 331, Riverlink: 379; CTNC 112We are also working to bring the CWMTF web page into the new and improved world of web design – it’s a lengthy process because of the amount of information on our page and the fact we are changing from an archaic format into a design platform that will in the long run make it easier to manage.
  • This is a very course mock up of a couple of pages of the new site….
  • I mentioned that we are NOT abandoning the traditional forms of promotion in this plan. A key component of it is to return to the regular promotion of our projects – with an emphasis not so much on new projects per se, as we have done in the past, but looking to our older projects, our iconographic projects where the news peg is how far they have come in water quality protection and economic impact. We will review our older projects that may have an anniversary coming up and work with the conservation partners involved to highlight them tours, news conferences designed to get traditional media coverage, and we can showcase them ourselves on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.Examples include: Bird Island, Sugar Creek, Troy, Needmore, Dupont State Forest, White Oak River, North River Farms, New Hanover, GoldsboroWe can also focus this same kind of attentionon program areas – stormwater, stewardship, etc.
  • Hand in hand with that is taking advantage of any collaboration opportunities that might come up with stakeholders.Again, these are tools we have used with great success in the past, and have been on hiatus because of the budget situation. It’s time to ramp them up again.
  • One element of this communication plan that has not been included in our previous plans is the idea of organizing stakeholder forums.These would allow for local publicity, as well as the opportunity to hear firsthand from folks who have come to depend on CWMTF. And it would be a way to engage local governmental leaders, and especially legislators.
  • Legislative outreach has always been important to the success of CWMTF and articulating its messages. This year that may be more important than ever before. The communication plan includes increasing face to face contact with legislators, both in Raleigh and in their home districts, where we can show them how important CWMTF project are to their constituents.Also, we need to increase participation in Lobby Day…..and reach them through the traditional vehicles of our reports to legislative committees and our annual report.One thing we are also doing is using their use of social media to our benefit – we are following all legislators using Twitter….in hopes that they will follow us in return. And that is working….
  • And a little more about how to use the new media to self-promote CWMTF:The communication plan includes turning our electronic newsletter into a blog: to increase effectiveness, distribution and ease of delivery and cross promote with Facebook page and Twitter updates;it can include info from field reps, stewardship, project managers, trustees and be more personable and people-friendly.The plan also calls for creation of a CWMTF page on YouTube for videos and slideshows of projects, and also using sites like Flickr and Picassa to easily create photo galleries.And as the technology changes, we need to make sure we are using the most accepted and well used of those tools to represent CWMTF and communicate our messages.
  • The timeline for implementation of the plan is already underway…..our new web page should be online by late spring.I would like to thank the trustees on our ad hoc committee for their input and their help with the guest columns, and the members of the communications team.Richard, if you have anything to add and then we’d be happy to answer any questions.
  • CWMTF 2010 Communications Plan

    1. 1. 2010 Communications Plan<br />CWMTF Board Retreat<br />February 14, 2010<br />
    2. 2. Presentation Overview<br />Goals and Objectives<br />Challenges<br />Messages<br />Targets<br />Plan Overview and Elements<br />Implementation<br />Communications Team:<br />Lisa Schell<br />Richard Rogers<br />Sarah King<br />Damon Tatem<br />Cherri Smith<br />Tom Jones<br />Christopher Fipps<br />
    3. 3. Plan Objectives<br />
    4. 4. Objectives<br />Increase awareness of the link between protected water supplies, land conservation and the economy<br />
    5. 5. Objectives<br /> Increase understanding of how critical clean water and grants made by CWMTF are to the economy of North Carolina and its recovery.<br />
    6. 6. Objectives<br />Increase awareness of the importance and need for CWMTF and its continued funding during economically challenging times.<br />
    7. 7. Challenges<br />Unstable Fiscal Climate<br />Changing Traditional News Industry<br />
    8. 8. Early revenue projections mixed at best<br /> Clearer picture of the state’s revenue situation will likely not be available until after February <br />Perception: land acquisition is a luxury in this economy<br />Challenge #1:Fiscal Climate<br />
    9. 9. Challenge #2: Changing News Industry<br />Traditional media is NOT the same<br />
    10. 10. Economic Impacts on News Industry<br />Or…Why Things Aren’t Getting Covered the way They used to<br />Massive mergers leading to heavy debt loads<br />Decrease in revenues because of the recession<br />Changes in the way consumers get their information<br />
    11. 11. Rise of the Net:The Digital Divide Narrows<br />By the end of 2007, 83.3% of all households in NC have access to high speed internet service<br />Nearly 80% of all rural households now have access<br />North Carolinians are using the net in record numbers<br />2004: 71% of NC adults reported using the net at home<br />Source: N.C. Rural Internet Access Authority<br />
    12. 12. Rise of the Net: Impact on Traditional News Media<br />Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press<br />
    13. 13. NC Papers Hit Hard<br />Charlotte Observer – 82 Jobs<br />News and Observer – 41 Jobs<br />Asheville Citizen – 60 Jobs<br />Winston Salem Journal – 23 Jobs<br />Va Pilot – 70<br />Fayetteville Observer – 18<br />Wilmington Star - 36<br />Over 500 Jobs Lost in 2009 in Newspapers Alone<br />Sources: “Paper Cuts-Newspaper Buyouts and Layoffs,”; News-Cycle; The AP Layoff List –; The N&O; WRAL<br />
    14. 14. End Result:<br />More Difficult to get positive attention the “Old Fashioned Way”<br />
    15. 15. CWMTF’s Messages<br />What we want to say to the public about our program<br />The Communications Plan is a strategy to communicate these key points <br />
    16. 16. Messages<br />Clean water investments are just as critical to protecting our economy as they are to our environment.<br />
    17. 17. Messages<br /><ul><li>There is still more to be done to protect NC’s water quality. Despite the economic challenges the state still faces, we cannot lose sight of that.</li></li></ul><li>Messages<br /><ul><li>All of CWMTF’s projects play important roles in protecting North Carolina’s economy.</li></li></ul><li>Messages<br /><ul><li>CWMTF must be in a position to resume its legislatively mandated goals for protecting the state’s water quality.</li></li></ul><li>Targets<br /><ul><li>NewsMedia
    18. 18. Legislators
    19. 19. Policy Makers
    20. 20. General Public</li></li></ul><li>Meeting the Plan Objectives<br />Traditional News Media<br />New Media<br />Events and other Collaborations<br />Legislative Outreach<br />
    21. 21. What We’re Doing Now<br />Trustee Op-Eds<br />Charlotte Observer<br />Winston-Salem Journal<br />Asheville Citizen Times<br />Tri-County Area/Foothills<br />Goldsboro<br />
    22. 22. Op Eds<br />
    23. 23. Op Eds<br />
    24. 24. Op Eds<br />
    25. 25. What We’re Doing Now<br />Field Rep Community Outreach<br />Local planning meetings environmental organizations<br />County Commission meetings<br />Workshops<br />Regular contact with local leaders, engineering firms, consultants<br />RC&D functions, Soil and Water meetings <br />
    26. 26. What We’re Doing Now<br />
    27. 27. What We’re Doing Now<br />New Media<br />Web Site redesign<br />1 in 5 adult net users use Twitter, Facebook or other social networking service to keep tabs on friends and interests.*<br />*Pew Research Center, Internet and American Life Project, 12/27/09<br />
    28. 28. Web Site Re-design<br />
    29. 29. Web Site Re-design<br />
    30. 30. Project Promotion<br />Target projects with regional significance and or anniversaries.Promote their successes via:<br />Traditional news releases<br />Stories in stakeholder newsletters<br />Public Events/Tours<br />Use of New Media<br />
    31. 31. Collaboration Opportunities<br />Promote completed projects <br />Reinstate practice of holding public celebratory events<br />Investigate and take advantage of other publicity opportunities where CWMTF has an association<br />
    32. 32. Stakeholder Forums<br />Plan and hold regional meetings to:<br /> discuss needs, challenges, etc. in face of current conditions<br />Grantees, environmental community, local leaders, public<br />INVITE LOCAL LEGISLATORS.<br />
    33. 33. Legislative Outreach<br />Meetings with legislative leadership in Raleigh<br />Meet with local legislators in their home counties to discuss projects and impact of CWMTF<br />Lobby Day<br />ERC Report<br />Annual Report<br />
    34. 34. New Media<br />Create a CWMTF blog<br />YouTube and Flickr Sites for Project Photos, etc.<br />Take advantage of other FREE online promotional opportunities<br />
    35. 35. Timeline for Plan Implementation<br /><ul><li>Web/New Media –Ongoing
    36. 36. Events/Outreach – Spring
    37. 37. Annual Report –In progress
    38. 38. Legislative Outreach –Now through session</li>