How our PR team applies creativity to road construction (with an assist from Work Zone Wally)

What is a PIC?

Before we can dive into the capabilities of a PR firm, let’s first test your alphabet soup knowledge. What does PIC mean? PIC stands for Public Information Coordinator.

Better yet, what does a PIC do? We effectively communicate with the public on complex, often controversial issues.

The work of the PIC requires intense planning; whether the goal is to persuade, reassure, maintain a friendly rapport or take a complex community topic and make the purpose easy to understand, our public relations team at Flint has been executing successful PIC projects for decades. As of late, we specialize in supporting the communication surrounding road reconstruction and infrastructure improvement projects in North Dakota.

Have you met Work Zone Wally?

If you live in Fargo, you may have crossed paths with Wally at various road construction zones or visited with him at the Downtown Fargo Street Fair. If you haven’t met him yet, he is a hardworking fellow that proudly serves FargoStreets.

Work Zone Wally was created to humanize road construction and infrastructure improvement happening with the City of Fargo Engineering Department. Melissa Reichert, our Public Relations Strategist, knew that Fargo’s road improvement projects needed to find a fresh tone – or maybe a friendly face. Our PIC team also includes Amy Acquard, Public Relations Specialist, and transportation experts across creative, media and web departments. When they put their heads together with local sculpture artist, Darrell Dodge, Wally was born.

Wally surely prospered on his own, but our team knew he needed companions to continue Fargo Streets’ community engagement efforts. It only took our own Jeff Reed three days to transport these pups from sketchbook to reality, and we were proud to officially welcome Hazard and Road Rash to the team in 2017.

All fun aside, these cone creatures served as a creative release for kiddos at the street fair and gave us extra of their parent’s or guardian’s time. We wanted to provide the City of Fargo Engineering Department with a baseline survey by asking how and where area residents prefer to receive updates on road work.

Melissa received an overload of positive feedback when speaking at a local first grade class on their Career Day (Junior Achievement is an awesome organization. Volunteer!) After explaining that her job is to inform everyone’s parents, grandparents or friends about construction projects, she asked the class if they knew Work Zone Wally. A majority of first grader’s hands quickly shot up and yelled, “WALLY!” Many were excited to share they visit him at the library or see him on the road.

 

We don’t enjoy road construction either, but let’s work together to ease frustrations

Here’s the truth: nobody enjoys road construction (not even us at times) when it’s part of their daily route. We feel just as strongly as you do that the rollout of orange cones could be called our fourth season in the Midwest, but after construction season ends, our transportation systems are better and safer for us all.

We believe the most important role of PIC services is to manage a time-consuming layer of road construction and the exchange of public information so that engineers can focus on all the other challenges associated with improving infrastructure for ND.

Our PIC team’s communication strategy is led by our public relations team to create the right toolbox to keep public input rolling throughout the project.

Our illustrator and map master Jeff Reed reminds us that being a PIC is all about putting yourself in your audiences’ shoes to produce updates that are not only timely written but also visually shows what they can expect when entering a zone.

 

 

The PR planning process – shifting from reactive to proactive

We’ve witnessed how public relations and community relations truly aid in the success of the public accepting short-term inconveniences and engineering support when we’re ahead of it.

By learning how to break down “engineer speak,” we can ask questions to think deeply about the effects a project or event will have on each stakeholder. This is at the core of our public relations strategy.

Below are PIC priorities and essential steps to take when “constructing” a PIC plan:

  • Identify stakeholders to pinpoint your audience
  • Research, and keep researching
  • Define the behaviors we want
  • Simplify engineering messages specific to each audience channel
  • Be boots on the ground – show the public what they can’t see
  • Monitor feedback

Construction does not follow an 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. schedule; therefore neither does its updates. The hours may be long, but we take pride in keeping drivers safe and aware – especially when it involves a smiling announcement from Wally.

 

Thank you for your patience, from Work Zone Wally and your friends at Flint Group.

 

Interested in utilizing a public relations firm to help with PIC services? Reach out to us today.

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