Construction communications
According to some reports, the most common complaint about construction projects from the general public is the lack of information offered, such as where to park, what detours to take, how construction will impact local businesses and more. Improving communication to the public about construction conditions will not only allow drivers to make safer driving decisions, but support local businesses and residents who stand to be inconvenienced or confused by its impact.So, if you have a construction project coming up, consider the following communications tactics for success:

  • Use challenges to your advantage.
    Let’s be honest: Change is not always easy. In preparing to communicate construction information to area businesses and residents, take this knowledge to heart and build messaging around it—communicating not just the when and the where, but the WHY. Doing so will help get everyone on board with construction and leverage the sense of community in your town or city.
  • Rally the troops.
    Especially in the case of construction projects that shut down entire streets, and subsequently storefront entry, communicate plans as early as possible. Form a group or a coalition comprised of local business owners, property owners and residents in order to share the timeline while offering them the opportunity to voice concerns. The group can then work together to resolve potential obstacles, brainstorm communication tactics for customers, employees and vendors, or band together to offer joint discounts to promote business during construction. Hold regular meetings and offer giveaways at each one—fun, construction-themed items like Construction Cone Stress Relievers or Hard Hat Key Ring Lights are sure to be a hit and keep the conversations positive!
  • If the proper tools aren’t available, create them.
    From toolkits for business owners and fact sheets for residents to FacebookSM pages, maps and signage, seek to compile resources from the outlets like the DOT, the city and the chamber of commerce in order to make them centrally accessible. Package these in a way that is easy to read, easy to recognize and consistent with construction messaging.
  • Never underestimate the power of proper signage.
    Signage is often thought to fall into the category of customer service or customer experience design. But truth be told, it can also be an important part of public relations. Signage leading customers to parking lots, delivery personnel to proper entries and traffic to alternate routes help alleviate frustration while illustrating your town or city’s desire to ease the construction transition.
  • Have fun.
    Develop a construction mascot, host photo-tagging contests or scavenger hunts—anything that makes light of the negativity often associated with construction. Create T-shirts or baseball hats with the construction mascot, logo or tagline to give away at community events or ask city leadership to wear this playful sign of solidarity on polo shirts.
  • Everyone wants to be on a winning team.
    Remain unwavering in positivity and energy throughout the construction process—reminding everyone all along that the end result will be worth it, in between communicating the seemingly small milestones leading up to the reopening. This demonstrates that it’s important to recognize and communicate the wins, no matter how large or small they are.Letting people know that they are on a winning team perpetuates positivity, fosters goodwill and creates word of mouth.
  • Celebrate the project’s completion
    A great way to mark the end of a construction zone and bring the excitement for a new and improved road or city block full circle is to celebrate a job well-done. Ribbon cuttings, community block parties and local business open houses are all fun ways to bring people back to the construction zone to see the final product. Offer road-related prizes like Highway Companion Safety Kit or a Java Road Warrior Set to help celebrate the conclusion of a well-laid plan!

It’s all too easy for businesses and residents to get frustrated come construction time, but with a positive attitude, plenty of support and open communication, it doesn’t have to be.

Done, Ph.D., Robert S. “Improving Construction Communication.” Arizona Department of Transportation. June 2004. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

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