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Communications Strategies for Water and Sewer Utilities Ruebman

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An overview of things to keep in mind in order to work successfully with the media and to make sure they tell your stories effectively and consider you a resource and a source of expertise on water and sewer issues.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Communications Strategies for Water and Sewer Utilities Ruebman

  1. 1. Making the Media Your Friend
  2. 2. Elizabeth Ruebman, Amplify, Inc. http://www.amplifyinc.org/ • Lobbied Congress on water issues, including infrastructure. • Communications for NY/NJ Baykeeper. Partnered with Hackensack Riverkeeper to work on Combine Sewer Overflow campaigns including a push for an NJ notification act and a campaign asking EPA to force NJ into action. • Tough to sell to media b/c not a lot of people swimming in the urban waters in our watershed.
  3. 3. A (Brief) Beginners’ Guide to Media Relations The first step to getting reporters to care is operationalizing media relations. Get ready! • Designate media contact(s) within your organization and establish protocol. • Create (and maintain) your media lists • Use your digital media. • Learn the basics and respect the deadline. • Create some basic messaging.
  4. 4. Working with Reporters • Reporters are people, too! (Busy, stressed people.) • Keep it real. You can be friendly without offering to wash someone’s car. • There may be an on-going dialogue before you get a story. • Reporters have bosses (and readers), too, and this means that sometime you will need to push back against yours if it’s not really a good story or the info you are providing is too technical.
  5. 5. How to Pitch Your Story • Make info simple and accessible. Don’t assume any knowledge. • Visuals. Send a video or pic, create an infographic, stage an event, give a tour. • Be ready with good, specific info, without a lot of spin. • Help with “homework.” Provide links, give a summary of a report, make it easy. Never make a reporter dig. • Use real language. For CSOs, we talked about “poop.” Don’t shy away from grossness or humor, in fact, look for it.
  6. 6. How to Pitch, Continued • Explain what it means in real terms and how it impacts human lives. “If we don’t replace this sewer main, we will have sewage in the elementary school.” • Think about how stories are currently presented and package accordingly. Top 5 lists are huge and human interest is always more likely to get ink. • In short, infrastructure—unless it involves a disaster—is a tough sell to media but one that’s made much easier if you have a designated person focused on making it accessible and interesting. • THANKS FOR LISTENING! elizabethr@amplify.org

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