Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
38 Community outreach is the practice of conducting local public awareness activities through targeted community interaction. The community outreach process involves engaging individuals and groups to involve them in planning, delivering, and participating in projects for themselves and the general public. SIPs use community outreach efforts to create program interest, facilitate program participation, and raise program awareness. A successful sound insulation community outreach campaign consists of six major components: 1. An understanding of the 14 CFR Part 150 noise compatibility study and how it pertains to sound insulation programs. 2. An understanding of the demographics of the target population. 3. The creation of effective collateral materials that communicate appropriate messages to the target population. 4. A detailed communication plan that identifies strategies and activities to deliver program messages to potential participants. 5. A commitment to maintaining high homeowner satisfaction and a plan to gauge participant satisfaction rates. 6. An awareness of the local media and the role it plays in public perception and the dissemina- tion of program information. This chapter provides a detailed overview of the six major components of a successful SIP community outreach campaign. This chapter also highlights key items discussed in ACRP Report 15: Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations1 and outlines the dif- ferences between community outreach for residential property owners versus nonresidential property owners. This information is important because sound insulation programs are becom- ing more community outreach intensive as expectations on the part of the public have increased. 3.1 Planning Efforts Prior to SIP Successful sound insulation programs begin with the development of an accurate and detailed Part 150 study or environmental impact statement, which is conducted by an airport sponsor. A Part 150 study is a plan initiated by airports to develop and recommend actions to help reduce the impact of aircraft noise in neighborhoods surrounding airports. Although airports are not required to conduct Part 150 studies, voluntary participation in the study qualifies airports C H A P T E R 3 Community Outreach 1 Jon M. Woodward, ACRP Report 15: Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2009.
Community Outreach 39 to receive federal funding to implement FAA-approved airport noise programs. In addition, airports are required to prepare EISs when planning construction; SIPs that are based on the findings of an EIS are also eligible for federal funding. 3.1.1 Airport Planning and the Community The Part 150 study and EIS processes are interactive and seek input from both aviation inter- ests and community representatives to develop recommended actions to resolve noise issues. As noted in 14 CFR Part 150, development of the recommended actions must include public participation in the form of public hearings, workshops, and/or community meetings, which are held âin consideration of the local community interest.â2 Public hearings and community meetings provide a formal setting for citizens to provide comments to decision-making bodies. Typically, hearing and meeting minutes are public docu- ments and are available for residents to review. Public workshops are generally more informal, with program team members interacting with the public on a one-on-one basis. Short presenta- tions may be given at these meetings. Their intent is to relay program information to the public and to solicit public comment. Public participation in the Part 150 study, whether it is in the form of hearings, workshops, or meetings, should be held at different times during the week and weekend to ensure that a broad cross section of the community has the ability to attend. Based on airport size, funding, and the needs of the program, the hearings, workshops, and community meetings should be advertised in local newspapers, community newsletters, magazines, televi- sion, and/or radio. Some programs take community involvement in the Part 150 study a step further and estab- lish advisory panels consisting of local officials, concerned citizens, and community groups. The advisory panels serve as sounding boards for recommendations, provide assistance and guidance in soliciting community feedback, and ensure that the views of the community are adequately addressed. 3.1.2 The Beginning of Community Expectations A shared sense of ownership is formed when citizens are encouraged to participate in the development of policy. Because the Part 150 study and EIS processes are designed to encourage public comment and participation, the community is able to take an active role in the develop- ment of recommendations. When this occurs, the community becomes engaged, takes owner- ship, and ultimately forms expectations. The final published documents are available to the public. Thereafter, the recommended actions become the basis of the communityâs expectations for the sound insulation program. It is important to note that the community may form expectations before the planning results are published. Expectations can be based on perceptions of the city, the airport, the consultant team, and so forth. These expectations can be positive or negative and may be formed through word of mouth or personal experience. A. Deconstructing Mistrust and Managing Community Expectations There is considerable evidence that many Americans possess a broad-based distrust of gov- ernment and government programs, including sound insulation programs. According to the 2 U.S. DOT, FAA, 14 CFR Part 150, Amendment 150-4, Airport Noise Compatibility Planning; Final Rule, September 24, 2004.
40 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs Pew Research Center, a dismal economy, an unhappy public, partisan-based backlash, and discontent with Congress and elected officials have created what Pew calls âa perfect storm of conditionsâ associated with government distrust.3 The Pew survey, which was published in April 2010, reports that just 22% of Americans say they can trust the federal government almost always or most of the time. A proactive approach to sound insulation programs, one that educates the community and establishes shared expectations, may help reduce trust issues that exist among residential and nonresidential property owners. Openness to engaging the community in a way that builds trust and creates a positive working relationship can define success and is essential to managing com- munity expectations. Part of openness is being candid and realistic about what the sponsor can or cannot do to change the noise environment around the airport. At the onset of sound insulation programs, it is critical to portray the program in a positive manner. Sound insulation is one of the most tangible and effective means of providing relief for those affected by airport noise. Professional and responsive community outreach efforts set the tone for the program as a whole and can go a long way toward providing successful sound insulation. 3.1.3 ACRP Report 15 In light of trust issues that exist with government programs, there is an increased desire among the public to participate in decisions that will affect them. There is also a demand for the policy development process to incorporate input from diverse sources, especially from those involved or affected by the proposed decisions. ACRP Report 15: Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations clearly articulates the importance of engaging the public in the policy development process. Engagement creates opportunities to deliver improved recommendations. It establishes a more consis- tent framework for both airport staff and policy makers to make more informed decisions about impor- tant issues. It fosters enthusiasm and excitement about best planning practices, and involves the public in important policy considerations. Engagement advances the airport staff âs credibility and contributes to an atmosphere of trust. The public feels more like they are part of the solution, rather than pawns being manipulated through a jaded set of procedures. As airport planners and managers engage a community, their capacities for brainstorming and knowledge are extended, and they grow as public servants. Public engagement is not enough. As ACRP Report 15 outlines, public mistrust of the air- port and its motives are at the foundation of most airport conflicts. Therefore, consistent two- way communication that is open and transparent needs to take place in order to establish trust among program participants and community groups. Trust and respect are the keys to a long-term relationship between the airport and community groups. They require proactive involvement with the public and other interest groups using interactive techniques. Although the relationship may at times shift from collaborative to adversarial, efforts toward building trust and respect through engaged communications will ultimately result in an understanding of each partyâs position. To get ideas for successful ways to build trust and approach community engagement, it might be helpful to read Chapter 4 of ACRP Report 15, Community Engagement Strategies and Tech- niques. Additionally, Chapter 5 of that report provides case studies of airport/stakeholder com- munication. It may prove beneficial for airport sponsors or program consultants to compare the communications approach in the case studies with their own communications plan. 3 Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor: The People and Their Government, Pew Research Center, April 18, 2010, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1569/trust-in-government-distrust-discontent-anger-partisan-rancor.
Community Outreach 41 3.2 Participation Sound insulation programs are offered to the public on a voluntary basis. Without willing, eligible participants, sound insulation programs would not exist. To attract participants, a demographic analysis should be performed. 3.2.1 Demographics and Why They Matter Demographics are data that describe individuals by age, race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, income, education, social class, and so forth. In order to understand their communi- tiesâ demographics, sponsors should research the noise-affected neighborhoods to identify the particulars of the target population. This can be accomplished through door-to-door campaigns, mailings, surveys, reviewing census reports, and so forth. Information concern- ing the structure and dynamics of the target population is key to identifying and anticipating community needs, establishing program goals, developing action plans, and measuring the success of the program. It is important to understand how demographics may affect a personâs willingness to par- ticipate in a sound insulation program. The demographic makeup of a community dictates the types of community outreach methods that will be most effective in building trust, creating program buy-in, and attracting and retaining participants. 3.2.2 Residential Versus Nonresidential Property Owners When conducting community outreach to residential property owners, sponsors should con- sider age, gender, marital status, education level, occupation, household income, ethnic back- ground, and geographic location. The more specific the group, the easier it is to identify their collective wants and needs. Community outreach efforts to nonresidential property owners should take into consideration the type of facility and organization, number of staff, demo- graphics of facility users, and geographic location. Leaders of public institutions are interested in how a program will affect their ability to provide service and how it will affect residents who rely on their facility for service. 3.2.3 Ethnic Makeup Many sound insulation programs exist in ethnic neighborhoods, and often the ethnic makeup of these neighborhoods varies in relation to geographic area. Generally, neighborhoods surround- ing airports in the South and Southwest region have a higher Hispanic or African-American con- centration. In comparison, neighborhoods surrounding Midwest and Northeast airports consist of a majority Caucasian population. The ethnic makeup of noise-affected neighborhoods plays an important role in determining what types of community outreach efforts to employ. Community outreach to a predominately Hispanic or non-Caucasian population involves understanding the cultural and social characteristics of the population in general, in addition to the specific target community. Depending on the ethnic background of the targeted demo- graphic, it may be necessary to adapt the culture and language of collateral materials. Some programs with a large Hispanic target population provide Spanish translations for all collateral materials. Additionally, in order to increase program comprehension, it may be necessary to use qualified interpreters to transform idioms, colloquialisms, and other culturally specific refer- ences into analogous statements that individuals will understand.
42 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs 3.2.4 Economic Makeup The economic makeup of noise-affected neighborhoods plays an important role in determin- ing what types of community outreach efforts to employ. Depending on the education level, occupation, and household income of the targeted demo- graphic, it may be necessary to adapt the message of collateral materials to increase program understanding. The message should be clear, sharp, and above all, understandable. Program sponsors should choose the language and content to which their audience relates and that it expects. The economic makeup of the noise-affected neighborhoods may also affect how spon- sors attempt to contact participants. For example, some property owners may not own a com- puter or phone; therefore, electronic communication or phone calls will prove futile. In this case, sponsors should employ outreach techniques such as mailings, face-to-face interaction, community events, or public workshops and meetings. 3.2.5 Other Demographic Considerations The age of an individual may affect the outreach approach. If a homeowner is elderly, more face-to-face meetings may be necessary in order to explain the program, obtain required docu- ments, and so forth. An elderly person may ask that the sponsor deal directly with a family member because the process is otherwise too difficult or time consuming. Gender may also be a factor. A female homeowner, for instance, may feel more comfortable dealing with a female program representative. Since the outreach process includes many meetings that take place in the home, some female homeowners may not want to meet alone in their home with a male program representative. 3.2.6 Best Practice Recommendations: Participation 1. Determine the demographic composition of the noise-affected neighborhoods. 2. Employ a local person on the outreach team who is familiar with the noise-affected neighborhoods in question, knows the people and neighborhoods within the noise boundary, and is aware of the issues that the community feels are important. 3.3 Collateral Materials One of the best ways to increase visibility, deliver information, and strengthen program iden- tity is through the use of collateral materials. Effective collateral materials communicate the right messages in the most efficient manner possible. They are consistent in message, style, and tone, and are produced with sensitivity to the ethnic diversity of the noise-affected neighborhoods. Collateral materials can be printed or developed for online formats, and they vary based on air- port size, funding, and the needs of the program. Collateral materials for sound insulation programs are divided into two general types: required documents and informational materials. 3.3.1 Required Documents Because most sound insulation programs are jointly funded by the FAA and an airport spon- sor, certain legal documents may be required for program participation. It is recommended that
Community Outreach 43 sponsors consult with the FAA to determine the required documents necessary for program participation. Required documents vary based on airport size, funding, and the needs of the program. Required documents for sound insulation programs typically include a program application, participation agreement, avigation easement, and homeowner acknowledgement of work to be performed. See Section 2.4.3 of these guidelines for more information about these documents. All signed required documents must be in English. However, some sound insulation programs provide translated documents to residential and nonresidential property owners to increase comprehension. If there is a need to integrate translations into required documents, sponsors should pay special attention to the translation of legal documents. To ensure that the intended meaning of all legal documents is presented accurately, it is important to hire a qualified, profes- sional translator with experience translating legal documents. 3.3.2 Informational Materials Collateral materials for sound insulation programs can be internal and external in nature. Internal collateral materials serve as education tools for team members. It is essential that team members understand the program and its benefits and are able to communicate that under- standing to the public. External collateral materials are designed for noise-affected neighbor- hoods and communicate a clear, consistent program message. The better they are designed and targeted, the more effective they will be. A. Internal Materials Internal informational materials educate team members with respect to the programâs goals and expectations, define their individual roles and responsibilities, dictate appropriate standards of conduct and dress when they are representing the program in the community, and provide team members with a consistent message to enable them to speak with one voice about the program. Consistent messaging creates team cohesion and builds trust, which is essential to empower team members to speak with authority about the program. As noted in The Leadership Experi- ence by Richard L. Daft and Patricia G. Lane, âTrust is an essential element in the effective leader- follower relationships because it inspires collaboration and commitment to common goals.â4 Examples of internal informational materials produced for sound insulation programs are policy and procedures manuals, codes of conduct, partnering session handouts, and FAQ sheets. B. External Materials External informational materials are designed to increase program comprehension, raise awareness, and drive participation. If shared with someone prior to a face-to-face or in-home meeting, external informational materials create the first impression of the program. If used as a leave-behind after a presentation or event, the materials become the calling card by which the program is remembered. External informational materials should vary in nature and type, depending on airport size, funding, and the needs of the program. Examples of external informational materials produced for sound insulation programs are informational letters, legal documents, handouts, quarterly newsletters, customer satisfaction surveys, pamphlets, press releases, booklets, badges, binders, brochures, videos, and logoed T-shirts and hats. 4 Richard L. Daft and Patricia G. Lane, The Leadership Experience, 2nd ed. Cincinnati: South-Western Pub, 2001, p. 264.
44 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs Regardless of format or type, effective external informational materials are designed with four basic elements in mind: brand identity, cultural diversity, language, and audience. Brand Identity: Consistent Message, Style, and Tone. Strong brand awareness within noise- affected neighborhoods helps sound insulation programs establish a positive connection with the community as trusted resources to residents. Successful sound insulation programs pay close attention to branding efforts. In an effort to connect with the community, some programs select bright colors and create an easily identifiable logo. Informational materials should demonstrate a consistent message, layout, and tone: 1. Message: Consistent and transparent messaging helps to build trust, create program buy-in, and maintain satisfaction throughout the duration of the program. 2. Layout: A good layout can capture the attention of the audience. Informational materials with appealing graphics are often the determining factor for whether items are actually read. Graphics also serve as guides to take the reader through the materials in the order they are designed to be read. 3. Tone: Sometimes written materials are stiff and formal in tone. Other times the tone may be too informal or unprofessional. A neutral tone that is clear, engaging, and understandable is usually very effective; however, consider the target audience. A collateral piece aimed at nonresidential property owners might be most effective with a tone that is more formal. On the other hand, residential property owners might respond better to a collateral piece that is more conversational in tone. Cultural Diversity. Collateral materials should be produced with sensitivity to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the noise-affected neighborhoods. It is important to determine if there is a need to integrate translations into informational materials. If necessary, employ a translation team with knowledge of program documents and experience translating text to and from the relevant languages. Clear and Concise Language. Collateral materials should contain clear, concise writing and be easily understood. Technical language may bore an audience or make it difficult for them to understand the overall message of the informational materials. It is important to use straight- forward language so that the information is easily understood by the average person. Research has shown that readers faced with big words, long sentences, and large paragraphs are very likely to stop reading; this is not the desired outcome of informational materials. To avoid this, create text that is easy to read. Where appropriate, use subheadings and bullets to break up text. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and manageable. Targeted Audience. Collateral materials should be created with a specific audience in mind. The more targeted a piece is for an audience, the more effective it will be at getting that audience to take action. For example, instead of choosing to create one general fact sheet to be provided to several audiences, consider creating tailored versions of the fact sheet for each of the programâs target audiences. Successful sound insulation programs create specific informational materials tai- lored to residential and nonresidential property owners. Examples of informational materials created specifically for residential property owners are general informational brochures, bind- ers with program information that also serve as storage compartments for program informa- tion, DVDs that break down each stage of the sound insulation process, and appointment reminder cards. Examples of informational materials created specifically for nonresidential property owners are handouts and presentations for boards of directors, parish councils, and parent and teacher associations, as well as brochures tailored for each nonresidential property being sound insulated.
Community Outreach 45 3.3.3 Sound Insulation Program Information Online Providing information online increases awareness and exposure because it offers an opportu- nity to provide complete program information to a large audience in one venue. Online formats are convenient and cost-effective, can increase program credibility and awareness, and can pro- vide general or targeted information, depending on the audience. A. Convenient and Cost-Effective Providing program information online is immediate and allows for easy access by the public and a quicker response time for team members. At their convenience, individuals can access program information or contact team members with questions at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online formats give sound insulation programs the ability to post required documents such as a program application, which can be downloaded and completed by potential participants. Programs can also post samples of legal documents to give residential and nonresidential property owners a chance to view what is required to participate. Participants can quickly and easily give feedback on the program and its benefits. Addition- ally, program representatives can respond to questions more quickly and more cost-effectively than relying on the telephone or mail, which is especially important when dealing with property owners who live out of state. A website is also a cost-effective means to promote the program. It can prove less costly to put program information on a website, where it is easily accessible by everyone, than to advertise using more traditional means. B. Trustworthy and Credible Providing information online increases program transparency, which helps break down barri- ers. Sound insulation programs that demonstrate transparent communication are seen as cred- ible and trustworthy, and are more likely to build successful relationships with individuals and community groups. The creation of a professional and informative website increases program credibility. A web- site affords a sound insulation program the opportunity to tell the public what the program is about and why it deserves their trust and confidence. C. General and Targeted General. A program website has become an expected delivery tool for program information. Websites afford sound insulation programs the ability to provide both public, open-access pages, and private, password-protected pages. Public pages can be viewed by everyone and should include program information that is general in nature. Some components that may be included in a pub- lic, online format are program information overviews, program boundary maps, program-related photographs, contact information, abatement procedures, and program updates. Targeted. There are times when sound insulation programs may want to restrict public access. Some sound insulation programs have created password-protected areas on a website where participants can log in and access phase assignments, program updates specific to their property, and dates and times for appointments. It is important to note that a sound insulation program cannot rely on online formats as the sole source of information to the public. Not every potential participant has access to a computer or the Internet. Information that is listed in an online format should be replicated in printed informational materials. This ensures that the program is doing its due diligence with respect to reaching out to all individuals living within noise-affected neighborhoods.
46 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs 3.4 Communication Successful public engagement leads to public support and smoother program implementation. How a team communicates or engages the public is an important element in the community outreach process. A successful communication plan includes strategies on how to notify the public of a pro- gramâs existence, how to communicate consistently with program participants, and how to provide excellent customer service to keep pace with rising community expectations. Despite some variation, the vast majority of sound insulation programs employ similar strat- egies to notify the public of a programâs existence. This is not particularly surprising since the means by which team members can approach residents are limited. The central issue aviation planners and program consultants face when deciding on communication strategies is deciding which available tactics are appropriate for the target populations and when those tactics should be used. 3.4.1 Notifying the Public Sound insulation programs employ a variety of techniques to notify the public of their existence. Notification techniques should vary in nature and type, depending on the demographic of the noise-affected neighborhoods, airport size, funding, and the needs of the program. Typical techniques employed by sound insulation programs are written correspondence, tele- phone calls, one-on-one home/property visits, canvassing the neighborhood through knock- and-talk campaigns, advertisements in newspapers and other publications, videos, public service announcements, public meetings, community meetings, open houses, workshops, community events, training seminars, and group presentations to boards of directors, school boards, par- ents, community groups, neighborhood associations, local nonprofit organizations, and parish councils. Once a sound insulation program begins, it is a good idea to establish a policy that outlines how to address property owners who are ineligible to participate because their homes are outside of the designated boundaries. Some programs send letters to property owners that are adjacent to the noise exposure contour explaining the program and include a current boundary map, illustrating where their property falls in relation to the set boundary. 3.3.4 Best Practice Recommendations: Collateral Material 1. Determine the program documents that are required for participation in an FAA- sponsored sound insulation program. 2. Determine the collateral materials that program staff need to create to increase program awareness and comprehension. 3. With sensitivity to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the noise-affected neighbor- hoods, determine if there is a need to integrate translations into program materials. 4. Determine the need for a program website to promote awareness and understanding of the sound insulation program; determine which components will be included on the website.
Community Outreach 47 3.4.2 Communication with Program Participants Communication with program participants should be consistent, individualized, and frequent. A. Consistent Communication Consistent communication, like effective collateral materials, increases program comprehen- sion, awareness, and participation. Consistent communication that is tailored to a target audi- ence is vital to build trust with participating owners. B. Individualized Communication Some methods of communication resonate more based on individual preference. Each prop- erty owner is unique and may respond better to certain forms of communication. One person may prefer face-to-face communication and request an in-home visit. Another person may like the immediacy of a phone call or e-mail. When dealing with nonresidential properties, it may be necessary to meet with boards that govern the facility. It is up to the program to provide different communication options from which program participants can choose. It is more effective to communicate with people in their native language. For example, when dealing with a community that mostly speaks Spanish, in addition to providing written materials in Spanish, it may be necessary to employ an interpretation team with experience interpret- ing in both directions on the spot, without using dictionaries or other supplemental reference materials. It is helpful if the team is able to transform idioms, colloquialisms, and other culturally specific references into analogous statements that audiences will understand. This provides the option of face-to-face meetings for all program participants. C. Frequent Communication Frequent communication and follow-through increase program satisfaction rates among par- ticipants. It is a good idea to develop a communication plan among team members that outlines how to properly address property owners and establishes reasonable time frames for responding to property ownersâ questions and concerns. Successful sound insulation programs assign one contact to every residential and nonresidential property owner. That contact is involved with the property owner, explaining the program and answering questions from the very beginning of the process through program completion. The contact arranges and attends all appointments with participants and addresses special needs as they arise. Listening. It is important to remember that listening is a part of communication. A key part of listening is the ability to respond appropriately to what is being said. This means listening to the problem and responding in an empathetic tone using nonverbal behavior that demonstrates concern and attentiveness. Effective listening means getting at the heart of the issue. Effective listening makes the property owner feel valued. When in doubt, treat the property owner like a family member. 3.4.3 Customer Service Expectations A. Changing Expectations The Internet has increased the publicâs need for immediate information and communication, which has resulted in changing customer service expectations. There are more than 2.4 billion Internet users throughout the world.5,6 Successful sound insulation programs realize that these 5 http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm pulled, accessed April 2012. 6 Consumer Expectations are Changing, Forcing Contact Center Change, Interactive Intelligence, Susan J. Campbell, December 04, 2007, http://callcenterinfo.tmcnet.com/analysis/articles/15769-consumer-expectations-changing-forcing-contact- center-change.htm.
48 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs numbers indicate the public is online and on-the-go. To keep pace with technology, sound insulation programs use electronic communication as a means to communicate with partici- pants on a much more frequent basis. Electronic communication increases the immediacy with which team members can respond to participants. It also allows immediate community response, allowing team members to gauge, in real-time, how well they are responding to the needs of participants. Even as technological advances continue, participants still value the basic elements of excellent customer service: be available, be attentive, be resourceful, and be honest. Be Available. Make sure team members are available to address issues or answer questions. If a property owner inquires in person or via e-mail, it is important that team members respond in a timely manner. Be Attentive. The public wants to be recognized quickly, politely, and with respect. Make customer service a program priority among team members and sub-consultants. Be Resourceful. Inevitably, a sound insulation program will encounter unexpected issues. It is important to take a fast, flexible approach when this occurs. Prompt and creative problem solving can be the difference between a property owner who is upset and one who appreciates the extra attention to detail. Be Honest. Keep it simple; do not make promises that cannot be kept. Avoid unrealistic expectations by providing consistent, transparent communication and by educating the com- munity about what is feasible and what constraints to action are imposed by regulation. 3.4.4 Best Practice Recommendations: Communication 1. Determine the methods the program will employ to notify the public of the pro- gramâs existence. 2. Determine the method (e.g., phone calls, face-to-face communication, e-mail) and frequency of communication with program participants. 3. With sensitivity to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the noise-affected neighbor- hoods, determine if there is a need to use translators to achieve greater program understanding and awareness. 4. Employ a local person on the outreach team who is familiar with the noise-affected neighborhoods in question. 3.5 Satisfaction Rates Success comes in many forms and is defined in different ways. In sound insulation terms, program success is typically achieved if participants remain happy and involved throughout the duration of a program, from the initial community outreach efforts through construction completion. Often, public opinion plays a large role in determining the success or failure of a program. Successful sound insulation programs identify ways to create positive public percep- tion and combat negative opposition. Sound insulation programs frequently monitor and measure their program processes. Satis- faction surveys serve as an effective tool in the community outreach arsenal to gauge program performance.
Community Outreach 49 3.5.1 Public Perception Public perception goes a long way in attracting and maintaining program participants and in validating the success of the program as a whole. A. Creating a Positive Public Perception One way to create positive public perception is to engage active community groups or non- profit organizations. Discussions with these groups may shed light on certain community needs that are not being met. This engagement can also provide an opportunity for a sound insula- tion program to work in collaboration with existing groups to provide additional services. This creates an open atmosphere and makes these groups feel vested in the process, thus promoting program understanding and satisfaction. B. Combating Opposition If a sound insulation program faces opposition, a negative public perception can be formed. Opposition often stems from misinformation or misunderstanding. The first step in dealing with community opposition is to listen to the concerns of the community. Listening to the other side of the issue and understanding what causes another person to disagree demonstrates respect for his or her beliefs and permits an effective response. Some people object to sound insulation programs because they feel they have been left out of the process. To avoid this, team members should make every effort possible to involve represen- tatives of all areas of the community from the earliest discussions about the program. Some peo- ple may oppose a policy because they have questions about its necessity, what is being proposed, or how the plan will be implemented. Team members who listen to their concerns and provide consistent, transparent information can transform some of these critics into supporters. Other times, people may be unsupportive because their property is not eligible to participate. In this instance, it is important to clearly articulate the program eligibility requirements and restraints. Honest communication goes a long way in dispelling myths and building trust. 3.5.2 Satisfaction Survey Successful sound insulation programs recognize the need to continually improve their proce- dures in order to maintain high customer satisfaction. One direct way of determining whether property owners are satisfied is to simply ask them. Satisfaction surveys are an important community outreach tool employed by many sound insulation programs to gauge overall program performance. A satisfaction survey should be detailed and should ask property owners to rate or comment on each step of the sound insulation process. This ensures that team members will be able to evaluate the services provided and identify specific areas that work well and those that can be improved. It also helps staff understand and eliminate barriers and obstacles that may affect satisfaction levels among program participants. A. Timing The best time to conduct a satisfaction survey is when the experience is fresh in participantsâ minds. Waiting too long to administer a survey may result in less accurate responses. Time can play tricks on peoplesâ memories; a participant may forget certain items or confuse a sound insulation program with something else. It is important to conduct the survey as soon as con- struction is completed. B. Delivery Method The preferred delivery method for a satisfaction survey varies from program to program. Some sound insulation programs prefer hand delivery because it is more personal. Other programs send
50 Guidelines for Airport Sound Insulation Programs property owners satisfaction surveys by U.S. mail or e-mail. Still others post a satisfaction survey on a web page, allowing participants the option to download and complete it. To obtain the most accurate, honest information, it is widely agreed among consultants and sponsors that property owners should be able to complete the survey anonymously. 3.5.3 Best Practice Recommendations: Satisfaction Rates 1. Identify the active community groups and nonprofit organizations within the pro- gram boundary. 2. Determine which methods will be employed to reach out to those active community groups and nonprofit groups. 3. Determine which methods will be employed to administer a satisfaction survey to program participants. 3.6 Media The media is an essential vehicle for disseminating information to the community. The media is typically viewed as an impartial source of information. If used properly, it can provide pro- gram information, promote credibility, and develop community buy-in. 3.6.1 Exposure The power of the media is a tremendous asset when it comes to getting a message out to the public. Gaining exposure through the media is free and often helps boost credibility and increase program legitimacy. 3.6.2 Media Strategies Some sound insulation programs actively seek out the media, while others do not. Before spending time and energy developing media strategies, the program sponsor and consultants should meet to determine if the airport wants or needs media attention for the program. Effective media strategies deliver a consistent, transparent message to increase program aware- ness and alleviate the spread of misinformation that often becomes a barrier to understanding or implementation. Strategies can be styled to meet varying levels of interest. Depending on the program, its budget, and the complexity of the message, media strategies may include hosting a community event or the preparation and placement of news articles or press releases in independent pub- lications (e.g., community newsletters, city council reports, local newspapers, and magazines). These strategies can occur at major project milestones to convey program awareness, education, and success. A. Community Events Hosting community events is another avenue to attract media attention. Community events not only provide a resource to residents living within noise-affected neighborhoods, they also help sound insulation programs increase visibility and participation. Community events vary in nature and type, depending on the needs of the neighborhoods and communities. Some
Community Outreach 51 examples of community activities hosted by sound insulation programs include paint-a-home events where team members paint homes needing refurbishing, neighborhood and park clean- ups where team members remove trash and vegetation to help beautify areas, carnivals and fairs where team members provide free games and food to local residents, and adopt-a-class/family events where team members purchase gifts and goodies for needy children during the holidays. Other community events that may attract media attention include informational meetings and presentations to homeowners, community groups, and agencies. Additionally, milestone events that highlight a specific program achievement, such as the sound mitigation of a programâs 100th home or closeout events that celebrate the completion of a program, may garner media attention as well. B. News Articles/Press Releases Sound insulation programs are at a great advantage when deciding to pitch articles or press releases to the local news because local news networks often tell stories that have a human inter- est angle. Many sound insulation programs have access to hundreds of participants with interest- ing and compelling stories. Sound insulation programs can help bring attention to these stories while playing a secondary role in the news piece as part of providing sound insulation service. 3.6.3 Best Practice Recommendations: Media 1. The program sponsor and consultant should work together to identify and develop media strategies to provide program information, promote credibility, and develop community buy-in. 2. The program sponsor and consultant should work together to develop community events or projects in an effort to garner positive publicity and build relationships within the community.