formation products and tools through multiple media, varying technical detail, and appealing graphics. Products are tailored to each targeted audience and structured around answering NAWQA’s three core questions related to the status of the water resource, changes in quality and related conditions over time and space, and understanding of the factors influencing status and trends. The program’s communication strategy follows a tiered approach, ranging from detailed scientific reports for technically trained audiences to one-page fact sheets for lay audiences. Thus, the program attempts to match the level of technical detail in its various information products to the needs of decision-makers and stakeholders who are trying to understand and make informed choices about policy, management, and investments related to water quality.
NAWQA typically employs an aggressive communications strategy in its release of a major report, which employs written products, briefings, and Internet-based formats. These reports are typically released with fact and briefing sheets, a press release, a dedicated web page linked to the main NAWQA program website, an email “blast” to stakeholders and decision-makers,1 and stakeholder and congressional briefings. The dedicated web-page includes not only the main product but also a variety of other products including a Frequently Asked Questions document, downloadable graphics and tables with the raw and supporting data, and a podcast of key findings. The selection of products used depends on the scale and content of the report. The communication strategy is flexible and will expand or contract depending upon the attention received during release. It also ensures that NAWQA studies are communicated at both the local and national level. The release of the NAWQA pesticide circular in 2006 (Gilliom et al., 2006), which was a “major release,” had a 10-part communication strategy and included a variety of derivative products and activities (Box C-1).
NAWQA’s written publications are the foundation of the program’s communications strategy. NAWQA publishes a variety of written publications that have no political agenda, target various audiences, and contain no specific policy recommendations. These publications come in a variety of formats targeting various audiences and subjects:
1 NAWQA’s Contacts Database includes approximately 1,700 relevant stakeholders who are prioritized according to their interest in the program judged by attendance at briefings, requests for NAWQA publications, etc. NAWQA uses this list and prioritization to distribute its publications and tailors outreach accordingly.