Water professionals can attract support, funding, and engagement by understanding how to use public communications strategically. WEFTEC 2019 includes many sessions and workshops to help you make better use of this powerful tool.

As water professionals, you understand the value of clean water; you’ve dedicated your career to it. But sometimes, making sure the public sees it the same way can be a challenge.

“For a long time, the water sector has been content to stay out of the public eye,” said WEF Senior Communications Director Travis Loop. “But in the past few years, there’s been a real emphasis on communicating with the public about the importance of water, the importance of infrastructure, the need to invest more, and the work utilities do to provide clean water. People are talking about how important communications is and how we need to do more of it.”

To help improve water sector communications, WEFTEC 2019 include a full-day workshop and several technical sessions focused on public communications and outreach for water professionals.


A Day-Long Head Start

Workshop No. 25, Communications Camp: Tools to Engage, Motivate, and Reassure Your Community, will be a day-long training that will focus on understanding public opinion and public perception, branding, storytelling, crisis communications, and social media skills.

“We have an incredible lineup of speakers and presentations from across the country,” Loop said. “I’m hoping it’s something we can do on a regular basis at WEFTEC, because we have so many professionals there. We’re very excited.”

Workshop No. 25 begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 22 and lasts until 5:00 p.m.

“You have some of the absolute top experts in communications doing a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of the subject,” Loop said. “If there’s room for people still to register for that workshop, I encourage them to take that opportunity.”


The Crash Course

For those who want a refresher session or don’t have the time for the full day workshop, Loop recommends Technical Session 615, Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Why Public Outreach and Communications Matter! on Sept. 25. That session will highlight several recent successes in water sector communications.

“The main thing that I hope attendees learn is how vital communications is to everyone in water,” said Loop. “And I hope they realize we have to get a lot more aggressive in creating our communications.”

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Public Outreach for a ‘Brave Blue World’

The WEF Public Communications and Outreach Committee also will meet at WEFTEC. They will discuss how to support the documentary, Brave Blue World, which is due for release in November. WEF is a major production partner of the documentary. The documentary’s trailer is scheduled to be shown at the WEFTEC 2019 Opening General Session.

“It’s a great example of this type of communication,” said Loop. “We have to catch up to other industries in how to communicate and market to our consumers,” Loop said. “We need to break the mold. We’ve got get out of the pipes, if you will, and push the envelope and get after it.”

An Innovation Pavilion reception on Monday, Sept. 23, will host communication-related discussions. Titled, Resource Recovery in a Brave Blue World, this event will be a discussion on how reuse beer can change public perceptions of water reuse as well as how WEF became involved with the Brave Blue World documentary.

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