Public meetings or open hearings present a serious challenge for any company seeking approval for a proposed development, construction or expansion project. While failure to win public support is certainly an undesirable outcome, it's far worse to emerge from a governmental hearing or "Town Hall" meeting in which the participants have become enraged and energized to actively fight against your plans.
"It doesn't matter if it's a local zoning board meeting or a public service commission hearing, a company in the spotlight has to know how to prepare," said John Lacey, management supervisor, EMA Public Affairs. "I've seen too many `simple little meetings' go very wrong when people representing a company said or did things that alienated or angered the local citizens."
The EMA Managing Public Meetings workshop covers:
- The best physical setup for meeting rooms to maximize constructive input
- How to prepare your messages for maximum public understanding
- How to manage the media
- Why the most productive meetings can be boring
- Why it's critical to "Qualify Yourself"
- How to speak in public
- How to answer questions in public, especially the tough, negative ones
- Strategies and tips to minimize counterproductive disruption
- When to use PowerPoint . and when not to
- How to "work the room" and conduct follow-up
- Ways to honestly, openly and constructively react to disruptions
"Once you grasp the ways proponents, opponents and interested bystanders interact in a public meeting, then you will be able to use strategies to honestly, openly and effectively handle tough situations," said Peter Kapcio, head of EMA's crisis communications practice. "The number of attendees is not important. What really matters is how you treat both sides of the debate while the rest of the community is watching."
Added Kapcio: "Public meetings that lead to a public vote are especially critical. What happens at a public meeting shapes community word-of-mouth discussion of the proposal or issue. And that's often the ultimate determinant of public opinion."
EMA's Public Relations and Public Affairs Group has a long-established practice in managing communications for high visibility and controversial situations and proposals, including the siting of conventional and alternative energy projects, ranging from nuclear, conventional and biomass fueled power plants to hydropower and wind energy developments; factory and retail expansions; public works projects and public project bond issues.
EMA's Public Relations and Public Affairs Group offers a variety of training programs including Media Training, Crisis Communications Training, Governmental Advocacy Training and Executive Presentation Coaching. Like the new "Managing Public Meetings" workshop, these programs incorporate `How to speak properly in a public setting' as a core teaching component, enhanced by the latest research in the field and EMA's own extensive experience in controversial and crisis situations.
To learn more about this workshop, visit www.mower.com/crisisready, or contact John Lacey at 315.413.4294 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter Kapcio at 315.413.4292 (email@example.com).
About EMA Public Relations and Public Affairs
Ranked among the top 30 PR firms in the country by PRWeek, EMA knows how to harness the power of public relations and public affairs to manage reputations, move products and services, survive crises and achieve public policy victories. EMA's team is well balanced in both consumer and business-to-business public relations, and has specialized expertise in public affairs, crisis and reputation management, executive training and cause-related marketing. EMA also has extensive experience in developing and managing PR campaigns that leverage the power of online social media and special event marketing. Visit www.mower.com/crisisready for more information.
About Eric Mower and Associates
EMA is an integrated marketing communications agency with specialized expertise in business-to-business marketing, public relations and public affairs, consumer advertising, brand promotion and digital/direct/relationship marketing. With offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga., plus a service office in Los Angeles, EMA serves clients throughout the United States. EMA also serves many of its clients through IN, a worldwide network of leading independent advertising agencies in more than 90 countries. EMA belongs to the American Association of Advertising Agencies and IPREX, a worldwide partnership of independent public relations firms. EMA has 250 professionals and estimated 2010 capitalized billings of $220 million. Visit www.mower.com for more information.
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