Tips and information for effective public relations - Fall 2016  

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Name Dropping

Here's a sampling of what's going on with our clients and staff:

Congrats to our very own Cole Buergi. He recently joined the Greater Green Bay Chamber board of directors.

Congratulations to the
Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help which has been designated as a National Shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Shrine, which is located in Champion, Wisconsin. is the only Marian Shrine in the U.S. and attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year.   
Wisconsin Plastics Inc. highlighted their new PROvider line of towel dispensers at the ISSA INTERCLEAN show in Chicago, Illinois in October. 
Congratulations to Grande for being the cover story in the October edition of Insight on Business. The story focused on the tremendous growth of the firm, the leadership of CEO Wayne Matzke and offered a look at the firm's new home office in
Fond du Lac.

Berlin Area Public School District's innovative and highly successful Middle School math lab was the focus of an in-depth, front page story in a recent edition of the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Welcome Fritz! Fritz, the therapy dog, and his handler John Behrendt, were introduced at a news conference at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport. Fritz and JB will be making the rounds of GRB's concourses several days a week, providing some stress relief for busy travelers.

Congratulations to Parelli Foundation Board President Lori Northrup! Northrup has been named New York State Horse Council's 2016 Horseperson of the Year. Lori was recognized for her service to the equine community and for encouraging horsemen and women to be lifelong learners when working with horses.

Congrats! The state's first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) was officially opened for use near Janesville, Wisconsin. A ribbon cutting ceremony led by Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb marked the occasion. The DDI directs motorists to the opposite side of road to allow for free-flowing left hand turns onto the interstate. The DDI is part of the I-39/90 Expansion project between Madison and Illinois border.

Quick Quote
"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."   
It's you know where your 2017 communication plan is?
Now those are words that can strike fear in a communicator's heart! What? What do you mean 2017? Well, if you haven't yet started planning for 2017, the time to do so is right now! All too often we find that companies manage by crisis; only taking care of things that pop up to the surface and need immediate attention. It is the world we live in. Everyone seems to be short staffed and under a deadline.

But, if you want to be successful in your communications efforts, you need to at least have a plan framework in place. What are your focus areas in 2017 and how can you communicate them in a way that helps you reach your goals? You need to know what you'll be doing on a month to month, week to week basis. Start by identifying the big projects you have coming up in 2017 as well as initiatives that will continue from this year into next. Prioritize them and identify messaging, strategy and tactics for each. Don't' forget to identify how you are going to measure the outcomes. Yes, it takes a little time, but if you block out an hour or two every week from now until the end of the year, you'll have a great plan in place by the time the calendar reads 2017.

Don't worry about what might happen that will change your plan. Plans can always be changed and adapted as the year goes on. In fact, you can count on that, but at least you have a plan to guide your way. It can best be summed up with the old saying, "failing to plan is planning to fail."
Public meeting success or disaster?
It's all in the planning.
Public meetings are often held by governmental entities on projects that impact the public such as road construction or replacing water or sewer lines. Private businesses may also feel the need to host public meetings if something they are proposing impacts the public (i.e. power transmission lines, pipelines for gas or oil, or the construction of a new facility).

How you plan in advance of these meetings will, more often than not, determine the meeting's outcome. Here are 11 key things to keep in mind:
  1. Most people attend public meetings because they have a concern or oppose what you are proposing. Prepare a list of questions that you may be asked, including the most difficult questions, and develop responses to them. Sometimes, there isn't a clear answer at that time, but that in itself is an answer.
  2. Location is important. Choose a site that is convenient for the public. Schools, libraries and government buildings are generally good locations. (Tip: Avoid locations that serve alcohol.)
  3. Be sure the location meets all of your needs. This may include audio and visual equipment for formal presentations, plus open space for displays and ample room for the public to move from display to display comfortably, without feeling crowded. A site visit is recommended to get a feel for the room.
  4. Be sure to choose a meeting date far enough out that you have plenty of time to prepare your materials.
  5. Equally important, understand your audience and plan the meeting date and time that accommodates their schedules, not yours. Send out meeting invites a minimum of two weeks in advance of the meeting. Three weeks is even better. If someone is directly impacted, meet with them one-on-one in advance of the public meeting.
  6. Rehearse with your presentation team. This ensures everyone is conveying the same message. It also provides opportunity for the team to discuss difficult questions they are likely to be asked and develop responses.
  7. The day of the meeting, arrive early to set up the room. It's not unusual for the public to arrive 15 to 20 minutes prior to the official start of the meeting. Make sure you're ready for them.
  8. During the meeting, be polite and friendly. Understand the attendees are there to share their point of view and can be very emotional. Understand that your facts will never outweigh their emotion.
  9. If there is a formal presentation, followed by a Q&A session, consider setting time limits for comments and the number of questions that can be asked.
  10. Take copious notes of the comments and feedback provided and truly listen to what is said. You never know when you may hear a good idea.
  11. Finally, complete a debrief with the team immediately after the meeting while conversations are still fresh in their minds. Discuss what concerns were shared, the good things that happened at the meeting and, equally important, what could be improved on next time.

Depending upon the project being proposed, you may or may not develop public support. However, how well you prepare and manage the meeting will determine its success.

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