When the company reached out to Look East, we recognized the need for a comprehensive communication plan and community outreach. The company had historically maintained a low profile, so we started from the ground up to build a consistent and sustained outreach program to strengthen their relationship with the community.
A critical first step was to establish and engage a Community Advisory Panel (CAP) which is a structured process for building relationships, sharing information and resolving concerns that help align community expectations with company performance. Anytime there is a gap between expectations and performance, there is a greater opportunity for conflict. This is true between parents and children, employers and employees, and communities and businesses that operate in the community.
Twelve individuals from the community were invited to take part in the CAP. They were carefully selected to represent diverse groups within the community and a variety of viewpoints regarding the project. Each month, the group met at a community center. They shared a meal, then Look East facilitated a discussion to share information and address concerns.
Through the process, relationships are fostered. Look East’s approach for establishing and facilitating a CAP is to create an environment where candid conversations are encouraged and everyone feels comfortable expressing their views. The structured process includes both relationship building and information sharing that closes the gap between performance and expectations and results in increased trust.
Meetings have included guest speakers, updates from company leaders, and tours of the plant and the construction site. Through the CAP process, the company has shared information about its business and transparently addressed questions of concern. CAP participants have also shared feedback they have heard in the community.