Public Outreach and Stakeholder Communications

ERT provides public outreach and communication support for environmental restoration efforts, compliance and sustainability, and installation-wide environmental support. ERT staff develop communication strategies and materials, facilitate stakeholder/public meetings, develop education and training products and exhibits, design and develop media projects and site profiles, and offer training lessons and seminars.

Our outreach specialists support DoD, NASA, and NOAA clients. ERT works closely with client staff to understand specific agency goals, primary messages, and the target audience to ensure that communication materials are uniquely designed. ERT's staff involved in public outreach and communications have environmental degrees as well as communications experience and training which assists staff in effectively bridging the communications gap between the engineers, chemists, biologists, geologists and other environmental scientists and the general public. ERT specializes in regulatory compliance in the environmental field to ensure our clients meet all regulatory requirements for public involvement. For DoD, ERT offers the specific skill of risk communication, as many of our projects involve cleanup of military munitions.

Regulatory Compliance: Communications in support of our environmental projects often center around meeting and exceeding public involvement regulatory requirements set forth in NEPA, CERCLA and RCRA. As such, our public outreach specialists are knowledgeable on the regulatory framework and ensure that public involvement activities meet the regulatory criteria. Regulatory compliance activities include producing Community Relations Plans, drafting public notices, developing presentation materials for and hosting public hearings/meetings, and managing public comment periods. ERT staff draft public notices and announcements; schedule meetings; draft presentations, posters, and handouts; provide meeting transcription services; and compile public comments for inclusion in follow-on documentation.

Risk Communication: ERT personnel involved in supporting our DoD clients employ the unique skill of risk communication. Our staff speak about munitions, chemical warfare materiel, and munitions constituents in the context of actual potential risk. To distill facts from fiction, in addition to regulatory compliance activities, our staff produce letters, fact sheets, and monthly and quarterly newsletters; meet individually; and organize small group meetings. As a result of ERT's multifaceted approach, our staff are helping to build community trust and understanding and are proactively addressing potential concerns arising from DoD investigation activities.

Success Stories:

ERT Supports Battle of the Atlantic Event: At NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, ERT’s Integrated Communications Team relies on strategic research and analysis to collaboratively plan and deliver communications and event support nationwide. Support includes videos, major field events, meetings with local stakeholders, and integrated campaigns involving media (newspapers, televisions), “talent” to draw attention, podcasts, Twitter and Facebook, RSS feeds, and posters. The ERT team executes field surveys to assess citizen knowledge and understanding before and after the campaign, e.g., shopping mall surveys, classroom pre- and post-testing, and Marine Sanctuary visitor pre- and post-visit surveys. For example, ERT supports the annual “Battle of the Atlantic” program during which multiple scuba dives are sponsored to World War II wrecks in support of the U.S. Monitor Marine Sanctuary archeological site in Hampton Roads, VA.:

ERT Helps Keep D.C. Residents Aware of Potential Hazards: As part of a remedial investigation/feasibility study and geophysical investigation in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), ERT helped develop and then implemented an educational program to the public about the site’s potential hazards and the Corps remediation efforts. Tactics used in the outreach program included door to door canvassing, weekly newsletter generation and distribution, and monthly public Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings. RAB meetings included stakeholders from the Environmental Protection Agency, the District of Columbia Department of Health, American University, USACE Baltimore, MD, USACE Huntsville, AL, and project team technical staff that included ERT geologists and geophysicists. As part of the larger awareness campaign, ERT developed and distributed three-step safety magnets containing critical information that targeted different audiences including pedestrians, drivers, Spanish speakers, and children. The magnets, easily attached to home refrigerators, contained a 24x7 hotline so that residents could contact project personnel in the event of an after-hours emergency. Part of ERT’s responsibility included the creation and manning of that safety hotline.