Establishing information contacts who are identified as the official liaison person(s) for the public and the media, can help members of the community find information quickly and effectively. The nature of some participation processes is extensive, therefore it can be worth ensuring central information contacts who have the skills they need, know the process of participation inside out; and are well versed in project information, that they know the key stakeholders and stakeholder groups and are able to answer questions quickly with a high level of accuracy and authority.
Information contacts provide a single, well-informed source from which the public can obtain information.
Information contacts should ensure good quality, correct and consistent information is given to all enquirers.
- Can link stakeholders with technical experts.
- Ensures people don’t get ‘the run around’ when they call.
- Controls information flow and promotes information consistency.
- Conveys image of accessibility.
- Useful when consultation process is intensive and widespread.
- Gives the contact person(s) a good sense of stakeholder opinion.
- Useful in making suggestions for future consultation activities given understanding of stakeholder concerns.
- Good for building up trust among all parties.
- Organising group must be committed to and prepared for prompt and accurate responses.
- May filter public message from technical staff and decision makers.
- Contact people require strong interpersonal skills.
- Contact people should be briefed first about major project issues.
- Contact people must be well briefed in what information is appropriate for release.
- All external contacts should be logged.
- Appropriately trained staff
- Electronic communications for checking details, logging contacts, etc.
- Comfortable workroom close to facilities with telephones, desks, chairs, etc.
Can be used for:
- Showcase product, plan, policy
- Discover community issues
- Communicate an issue
Number of people required to help organise:
- Medium (2-12 people)
- Large (> 30)
- Medium (6 weeks-6 months)
- Short (< 6 weeks)
Skill level/support required:
- High (Specialist skills)
- Low (< AUD$1,000)
- Low (Information only)
- Low (Traditional)
- Select and appoint person (s) with appropriate public relations skills and knowledge of public participation processes.
- Publicise person by name with relevant contact points: phone, in person and via email.
- Brief person on role and provide them with appropriate background information.
- Maintain a log of contacts.
- Regularly meet with central information contact to develop a sense of stakeholder concerns.
- Department of Transportation (1997) Public involvement and techniques for transportation decision-making, US Department of Transportation, Washington. Available online: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/pittd/cover.htm