The Missing Essential in Public Communication
While the following are anecdotal, three incidents prompted and inspired the research and analysis reported in this book. Unfortunately for organizations and citizens, such incidents are all too often typical of organization-public communication today.
In 2010 I wrote to my local council about what a number of residents in the street where I live considered to be mismanagement of an environmental reserve adjacent to our houses. There had been a long history of politics between the local government body and the federal government over the land and who was responsible for the cost of maintenance of the reserve as well as the verge.1 Noxious weeds were growing in the reserve, undergrowth was creating a fire hazard, and plants and grass on the verge were dying. The local council’s Web site stated that the contact point for residents’ inquiries was the general manager and gave an e-mail address. So I wrote to the council as advised. But no response was received in the following three weeks. So I wrote again. Still no acknowledgement or action followed. Exasperated after writing two letters and leaving a phone message to no avail, I contacted the local newspaper and also wrote a story for an online community news site, with photos of the overgrown reserve and verge. Suddenly, within a day of media reports appearing, the council sprang into action. Council members and officials contacted me and maintenance workers were on the case within a few days. But until bad publicity...
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