Social Ecology vs. Public Relations

Social Ecology
CSEPP engages citizens to be problem solvers to optimize project design and benefits
CSEPP crafts messages tailored to the interests of the citizens
CSEPP encourages linking its issue management program directly to the decision making structure of the sponsoring company
CSEPP fosters two-way communication and mutual education through face-to-face network channels in the community.
Public meetings are never the first point of citizen contact and are only used strategically for a defined purpose.
Citizens get to be problem-solvers with responsibility to optimize project design and benefits, creating local ownership of the project.
CSEPP facilitates the company responsible for the project in training its own representative to serve as the face of the company, responsible for direct citizen contact and coordinating issue responses.
Public Relations
Public relations relies on one-way, top-down communication with citizens
The importance of “staying on message” drives the approach
Upper management does not always support community engagement
One way, top-down communication driven by the faulty assumption that resistance would diminish “if people just had more facts”
Public meetings happen without proper preparation often become polarizing events
Often driven by the “last man standing” rule: survive in the face of opposition through lengthy and daunting approval process.
“Everybody’s a subcontractor.” In this era of subcontracting, the result from a citizen’s standpoint is that communication is fragmented and no one is responsible. “I never get a call back,” becomes the local language.