Communicating with the PublicEnvironmental Training Resource
October 10, 2012 — 1,155 views
Communicating with the Public
When you're communicating information to the public about an ongoing project, it's most important to be transparent and clear with the language. It's very easy to simply share the technical terms that describe the actual work being done, but this is not going to be clear to a layman who is not part of that field.
Instead, break it down into very clear terms describing exactly what is going to happen and what the objective is. In the process, describe why this is happening and share any benefits they are going to receive because of it. Project communication is not just about staying on a master’s degree level all the time. If you want to engage your audience, you need to use everyday terms as much as possible.
In terms of environmental communication, this kind of communication is only helpful if you explain the cause for the work and what will change afterward. It's easy for the public to see what is going on when they drive by a job site, but they may not understand what the goal is. By putting this in written terms, it's simpler for the public to stay on track with the project and know what to expect during the upcoming months.
Keep in mind that bringing the language down to a level everyone can understand doesn't mean you have to use a third grade vocabulary. Those terms that are unfamiliar to them can be described using an index and glossary at the end of the document. If you give the public the tools they need to follow a project, they will likely put in more effort to stay informed.
If you are also putting this information on the web, then make sure you include the website on any documentation that is actually printed. This will give them access to two resources at the same time and you don't have to print up separate documents for each one. They can access it during reports or research projects just as easily, and it will be the same exact information. However, the online reports can easily be linked to other related documents, such as explanatory terms and project schedules.
The more secrecy surrounding a project, the more curiosity is built. If you need to get a project done without a lot of interruption, make sure the public is fully aware of what is happening from the beginning.