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Case Studies in Airport/Stakeholder Communication 63 A good public involvement program essentially incorporates dynamic two-way communica- tion, which promotes public feedback, and uses that feedback to transform the decision process and outcome. Be inclusive, involving decision makers and all interested stakeholders, and also as many groups and individuals in the community as is practicable. Put a heavy emphasis on partnering--achieving mutual understanding of the problem and formal or informal agreements to work together to find and implement a solution. Make communication with participants respectful. Perfect the art of listening to constituents. Always give all opinions serious consideration, and respond promptly and respectfully to input. Begin early and be proactive and ongoing with public involvement activities throughout the plan or project development. Make the decision process defined, structured, transparent, and clearly delineated at the start of each project. Structure decision processes so that outcomes reflect public input. Provide appropriate leadership to public outreach efforts. "An agency spokesperson or `champion' must be available to articulate agency policy, perspec- tives, and operating procedures throughout the process." (13, p. 4) Every public involvement effort should begin with an assessment that answers the following questions, which can be used to formulate a strategic public involvement plan. Strategic questions to be addressed: What are the objectives of the plan or project? Who is the likely audience? What will be the level of impact on the community? Are there any special barriers to communication? Challenges to Practitioners: Areas for Development Every organization that seeks to modify its on-going processes will be faced with challenges to that effort. The following paragraphs discuss the Committee's thoughts about the most visible of these challenges. Removing Institutional Barriers "For many organizations this will involve a dramatic culture change as agency employees from the top down adopt a new policy development and implementation paradigm." (13, p. 5) The White Paper says that public involvement must be given more than lip service. Agencies must make a serious commitment to include the public when making decisions and change their organizations and practices to reflect that commitment. At a minimum, this means developing con- sistent policies that validate the legitimacy of public involvement, dedicating budget and staff to public involvement. They also must commit to partnering with the public and other agencies to improve deci- sion making. (13, p. 5) Ensuring a Broad-Based Audience and Improving Communication Tools As more and more government organizations require public involvement, the public's ability to respond may become overloaded. Organizations must find improved techniques to reach the public while respecting their time constraints, helping them to correctly evaluate which issues are most critical to them. Organizations must find techniques to attract and communicate with a broader audience. Techniques to consider include electronic tools, mass communication tech- niques, public opinion surveys, and baseline research.