NACWA’s Communications & Public Affairs Committee held a teleconference presentation, Crisis Communications Strategy for PFAS: The Emerging Public Issue, on May 1, with guest speaker, Stephanie York, a Vice President of the crisis communications firm, Hennes Communications—one of the top crisis management firms in the country. An audio recording of the session is now available on NACWA Engage Forum, as well as a PFAS one-page primer/fact sheet that was used during Water Week. The teleconference saw more than 100 callers participate, emphasizing that the PFAS issue is a growing communications concern nationwide—with clean water utilities increasingly faced with the challenge of communicating potential risk, or lack thereof, to the public.
The PFAS issue has been appearing in various news media and community townhalls throughout the country, and as a growing news story is directly impacting several NACWA member utilities to varying degrees—with potential to impact many more. The May 1 teleconference was part of the Association’s efforts to help clean water leaders, stewards and communicators, to “get out in front” of the PFAS issue, especially if, and when, it becomes an even larger discussion in regional/national media. During the presentation, Ms. York outlined the need to be prepared with a detailed, comprehensive crisis communications plan, which included everything from prepared talking points to a list of partners with which to collaboratively address the public; media relations strategy; specifics on the use of strategic language when addressing media and the general public; and more.
Many of the practical issues that emerged during the Committee presentation and Q&A will be addressed at NACWA’s Communications Conference, Strategic Communications: H20, June 3-4, Cleveland, OH—where Hennes Communications will be one of the presenting firms. View the StratComm speaker agenda.
NACWA’s Communications Committee thanks all participants in the teleconference and has announced that more issue-based teleconferences and webinars will be forthcoming. For more information, please contact Tony Viardo, NACWA’s Director of Communications and Marketing.