The AWWA Public Affairs Council is responsible to publicly position the Association as an effective advocate for the water profession, and develops programs to carry out that mandate. The purpose of this program is to assist AWWA sections in developing and executing their own public affairs program. What follows is a model program designed for sections to modify to suit local conditions and needs. While there is more material included than any one section is likely to use, the intent is for each section to select those goals, programs and tasks that are suitable for their own needs, and then complete their own program design by adding material of their own. An organized joint public affairs effort from the AWWA Association level, sections, and local utilities will help unite the water profession on multiple issues, such as lobbying, media outreach, and public confidence in water.
Many sections already have some form of public affairs program, or are practicing various elements of public affairs. This Model Program presents ideas and action items that can be used by sections without a program, or to enhance existing programs. It is expected that each section will have first developed a section Public Affairs Council or Committee (depending on how the section is structured), in order to execute their program. The AWWA document “How to Develop a Section Public Information Program” is another useful reference for those endeavors.
However, it must be stressed, that every Section’s needs and capacities will differ, and therefore each Section’s program should be designed to suit their particular situation. For example, some sections may organize in a Public Affairs Council mode complete with committees. Others may simply form a Public Affairs Committee, using other established committees to assist in carrying out parts of the public affairs mandate. Still other sections may be organized to deliver their public affairs mandate through the use of a Public Information Committee. For purposes of simplicity, this document refers to all of these various organizational formats as PACs.
This Model Program includes actions for the section and their utility members. Therefore, it is expected that once the section modifies it to suit section needs, they will then, using the material herein, prepare a second document that is a generic public affairs program directed at individual utilities, suitable for each utility to then modify to suit local conditions.
The section PAC, working collaboratively with section leadership, will be the leader in communicating on public water supply issues for the section and the water profession by developing public affairs strategies, positions and programs that enable the respective section to achieve its stated goals and objectives.
Enhance the public water supply industry’s image with its various constituencies by creating and implementing creative, cost-effective communications programs in a timely manner.
PAC programs address the needs and requirements of the sections’ and the AWWA’s Strategic Plans.
Organize the section PAC to effectively reach section goals by:
Suggested task oriented committees, each of which would report to the PAC:
Many sections already have committees that provide these functions. In these cases, all that may be needed is for these established committees to have a liaison representative from the PAC to ensure progress on the PAC program.
It should be stressed, that it will take years to build an effective public communications program. The following therefore, represents a list of possible tasks to perform, and each Section should do what it can, even if it is only a little each year. Although organized by committee, each function can be assigned to any existing committees if that is more convenient for the section.
Media Relations Committee
Stakeholders Communications Committee (include liaison with the Section WUC)
Training CommitteePossible ideas for implementation:
The following lists represent proposed and/or existing tools to be used by the section and its utility members in delivering their messages. This toolkit may contain the following:
Media and stakeholder relations training