Anna grutzner pr ttc publicparticipation_fPublic engagement in infrastructure planning & delivery
Public engagement in infrastructure
planning & delivery
Presented by Anna Grutzner, Fenton Communications | Trenchless Australasia | 4 March 2008
Winning public confidence for infrastructure
1. Media relations: the double-edged sword
2. What is public participation?
3. Who is this stakeholder “the public” or “the community”?
4. How public participation can lead to public engagement and
5. Your role at the frontline.
6. Models, tools and tips.
The power of the media
1. Shapes public opinion
2. Provides 3rd party endorsement
3. Can build + or - community views
4. Bad news sells papers & lifts ratings
5. A “miracle cure” occurs every day
6. Media loves the ‘battler’
7. The nature of their business makes some organisations sitting
What is public participation?
What it is
• A process that involves the public in problem solving or decision
making…and uses public input to make better decisions.
• May include disciplines such as public relations, conflict resolution &
• A spectrum of levels of participation.
• A range of tools, including consultation.
What it’s not
• Corporate or government-speak for a consultative gesture
• An alternative term for engagement - may be the result.
Why should infrastructure projects plan for
1. Differing perspectives and priorities
2. Alternative ideas
3. Previously unknown data
4. Better relationships with stakeholders
5. Broader ownership of project
6. Facilitate council approval processes
7. Minimise risk
8. Minimise delays & cost overruns
9. Make your job easier!
Why is locking out the public risky business?
1. Inadequate information for sound decision-making
2. Stakeholder alienation, confrontation or conflict
3. Lack of community co-operation
4. Expensive solutions to public issues
5. Reputational damage
6. Lack of government support for project
Thinking about ‘the community’
1. Does ‘the community’ really exist?
2. What dangers are there in oversimplifying the concept?
3. Which are the community differentiators we need to consider in our
4. Are our customers community members?
5. How do we know what ‘the community’ thinks?
What ‘the community’ thinks: home truths
1. Does not like change
2. Under urban consolidation pressure
3. Does not worship technology
4. Overloaded with information
5. Yearning for respect
6. Not motivated by compensation.
Ways of inviting public participation
Degree of Influence of Promise
involvement in community on
COLLABORATE Jointly agreeing to a We’ll incorporate your advice
decision and recommendations into our
decisions to the maximum
INTERACT Having an influence on a We’ll work with you to ensure
decision your concerns and issues are
publicly acknowledged and
reflected in our planning
LISTEN TO AND Being heard before a We’ll keep you informed and
ADVISE decision is made provide feedback on the
influence of your input
INFORM Knowledge about a We’ll keep you informed
Tools facilitating public participation
Level of public participation Examples of tools
COLLABORATE Working parties, consultative
INTERACT Community Reference Groups,
Community Forums, workshops
LISTEN TO AND ADVISE Community Information Sessions,
doorknocks, information booths, focus
INFORM Website, newsletters, advertorials,
Choosing the right participatory tools
1. All project team members must share the same commitment to the
2. Are you trying to enhance stakeholder understanding, educate your
stakeholders, elicit useful feedback or encourage them to do
3. Participatory promises must be able to be kept
4. Tools must be adequately resourced
5. The greater the risk the more personal the participatory tool
6. Tools must be able to be evaluated (measurable)
7. Tools must allow for clear and public recognition of stakeholder
Helpful hints for public participation
1. Anticipate issues – don’t let them fester
2. Know when and how to escalate or respond
3. Use clear, non-jargon, culturally-sensitive and demonstrably true
4. Value the input of others
5. Accept responsibility/don’t hide behind consultants
6. Involve public affairs/communications branch sooner not later
7. Rely on a range of engagement tools
8. Don’t flick pass difficult or inconvenient issues.
• ‘We don’t expect there will be much disruption’ (So there will be
disruption will there?)
• ‘We are committed to excellent customer service’ (But do you
• ‘Our technology is cutting edge’ (So it isn’t tested yet?)
• ‘The works will only take a few days’ (You will be held to the
minimum interpretation of a ‘few days’)
• ‘We are consulting with the community’ (No-one’s spoken with me)
• ‘As you are aware…’ (Assumes the letter you sent has been read)
• ‘Noise will be kept to a minimum’ (Sorry I can’t hear you)
People power is a fact of life. Community expectations have
changed and there is a widely held view that people have
the right to participate in the projects, issues and changes
that impact on them.
The participation of community members is not be feared or
Rather, it is to be welcomed as one of the most important
ways of ensuring we deliver better outcomes.