Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tips to developers on how to handle public meetings

From the major pr/communications firm Hill & Knowlton, "Commentary: Tips for Handling NIMBY Town Hall Meetings," in the National Real Estate Investor. From the article:

If so many town hall meetings are high-risk, low-return forums that empower vocal opponents, then why do so many applicants roll the dice and risk their multi-million dollar projects? There are two reasons why town hall meetings are so frequent and the rate of failure so high.

First, the majority of public outreach efforts are launched by announcing a town hall meeting. Second, elected officials direct the applicant to host a town hall meeting, which enables the official to tell activists that they took action.

An elected official’s request that you present your project at a town hall meeting is often code for “You have my private support, but I need more political cover before I support the project publicly.” The scenario is a symptom of ineffective outreach that hasn’t successfully secured social equity for the project.

The article goes on list three tips:

Tip One: The public outreach campaign must have a communications strategy that politically protects your path. And the strategy should have a PLAN — social diligence comprised of Political, Location, Allies, and NIMBY elements — that affects the approval process. ...

Tip Two: Schedule presentations before such groups as Rotary, Kiwanis, and the Board of Realtors. The majority of local opinion leaders are active in these groups and the sessions qualify as public participation. These venues are receptive to development ideas and vocal special interests are unable to crash the gatherings. I’ve had several activists attempt to crash the gates, in some cases with news crews, and it always backfired on them.

Tip Three: Build a coalition of surrogates advocating the merits of your sustainable project. By following the first two tips, you may be able to avoid town hall meetings.

and forgets a fourth, hire professionals...

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