Public affairs as a strategic management function

Posted January 2006

By Patricia A. Tennyson and Karen P. Snyder

Most water utility managers don’t classify public outreach as an integral part of utility management. But, as reported in Pubic Affairs as a Strategic Management Function (December 2005, AWWA Journal), that’s an “unfortunate attitude because experience clearly demonstrates the value of devoting public outreach resources on major issues and projects early on instead of after the fact.”

The article notes that, “Those who have been part of the water profession for any substantial period can quickly point to experiences of failed or delayed rate increases, halted construction projects, quashed management proposals, and general misunderstandings among utility stakeholders because the utility did not provide, timely, accurate, and understandable information. These challenges become more frequent and magnified as the water industry faces costly infrastructure improvements, competition with other utilities for resources, double-digit rate increases, a national focus on security, and ongoing water quality concerns.”

For more information on the whys and wherefores of developing an effective public outreach program, click here