Is your Section or Branch releasing an Infrastructure Report Card in the future? As you debate the grades, have you developed your publicity plan? As Dan Agramonte, P.E., Co-Chair of the Georgia Infrastructure Report Card Committee said, “Writing the Report Card is only half the effort. If you don’t promote it well, you’ve lost a valuable opportunity.”
For Georgia, the public relations challenge was how to raise infrastructure awareness among elected officials, the media and the public. The 2014 Report Card for Georgia’s Infrastructure awarded the state an overall grade of “C” which remained unchanged from their 2009 Report Card. Their challenge was to generate excitement over the same grade outcome.
Dan said he incorporated many of the lessons he learned from his previous experience working on the 2009 Georgia Report Card. The key to their effort was to “plan the work and work the plan.”
And the committee’s hard work paid off. Media coverage of the Georgia Report Card release has been very successful. As of January 24, 2014, it’s been covered in 14 media outlets including print, online, TV and radio. Stories have appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Gainesville Times, Access North Georgia, CBS Atlanta, and Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Here are five tips Dan shared.
1) Strategic staffing and planning by the committee are essential. Reflecting their personality strengths, Dan handled the promotion and Rebecca Shelton, his co-chair, managed the Report Card development. Dan is more of an extrovert and feels comfortable speaking in public and dealing with the media. Rebecca is great at managing the development of a written report and the contributors. Planning by a committee of 60 people began a year in advance.
2) Break the project into manageable chunks with accountability. The committee divided the entire project into a series of tasks with specific deadlines and everyone contributed. The committee regularly discussed what was important and what next steps would be needed.
3) Take advantage of other resources. The committee talked to members in other ASCE Sections early on to get their best practices advice about the Report Card release. They also worked closely with ASCE’s Government Relations staff to get ideas.
4) Tie the release into the state lawmakers’ schedule. In Georgia, the legislature met for 40 days last fall. Instead of having a one day splash release, the Report Card committee decided to keep the momentum up for all 40 days. The release on the steps of the Georgia capitol occurred on the first day of the 2014 legislative session.
5) Include Public Relations University training in the mix. Dan said the committee came together for an ASCE PR University training session three months before the actual release. That helped the committee better understand the role of the public relations effort and learn about additional ideas they could incorporate.
And finally, while the 2009 Report Card covered 12 sections of infrastructure, the 2014 Report Card added two more sections which became a new angle for promotion.
For more about the Georgia Report Card release, see the related post on our sister blog, Save America’s Infrastructure. What best practices tips can you add?