This Critical Process exercise is a case study for non-profit public relations; it involves the process of persuading citizens to make a minor personal investment of time and energy for the good of the community.
As the new environmental coordinator for the make-believe city of Murphystown (pop. 100,000), your duty is to get the citizens to reduce, reuse, and recycle their household garbage. More than six months ago, a citywide curbside recycling program went into effect. Each household received plastic bins for separating its paper, metal, glass, and plastic products. Pickup is every two weeks, on the same day as weekly garbage collections. But many citizens of Murphystown either are not recycling or are forgetting to put out their recycling bins on time and are then later overloading the containers. Others are incorrectly sorting their recyclables, while still others are putting nonrecyclable waste into their bins. Moreover, few citizens are composting yard waste such as leaves and grass clippings, and many are still putting those items into their garbage cans, a practice that is now illegal. So after six months, the new recycling program has been deemed a failure, and you have been hired with the unenviable task of fixing the situation. A survey indicates that Murphystowners are accustomed to a throwaway convenience culture, and they think recycling and composting are too time-consuming, with little benefit for them.
The recycling program needs to be a success. The program will extend the life of the city's landfill from twenty to seventy years, and it will also provide (through the sale of bulk recycled garbage) an important revenue source for the operation of the city's environmental management system. Your job success depends on your ability to turn the program around. The city's mayor has privately demanded that you dramatically improve the citizen participation rate in the program in a year, or you'll be fired.
1. Identify all of the public relations problems in this scenario. Who are all the "publics" you need to consider? How will you communicate with them?
2. Discuss your public relations strategy and campaign. Your solutions should shun top-down administrative edicts and, instead, encourage open, democratic communication and creative participation. How will you frame your strategies and messages to do this? How will you get all residents of the entire city of Murphystown to make a personal investment in energy and time for a long-term plan in which they may not see immediate tangible benefits?
3. Consider not only the message but the entire organizational process. Are there things you could do to change the entire recycling process that might create higher participation rates and improved performance? How will you find out which parts of the process to improve?
1. The case study here depicts the problem faced by non-profit public relations which is persuading the citizens of Murphy town to contribute some time and energy to reduce, reuse and recycle their household garbage. The problems as identified in the case are:
- People are not recycling the waste.
- Forgetting to put the recycling bins on time.
- Overloading the waste containers.
- Incorrect sorting of the waste.
- Many citizens are compositing yard waste and putting non-recyclable waste into bins.
These are some of the problems faced by the Public relation authority, which has deemed the recyclable programme as a big failure. The inability of the publics to understand the importance of recycling and shying away from their problems is the biggest reason for the failure of the programme.
The publics which have to be considering here is the citizen of Murphy town, they have to understand the importance of recycling for the economy of the town and also what good it would do to the environment of Murphy town.
The best way to communicate with them is through the use of Social media, big billboards in the localities or the highways and plea to the citizens of Murphy town by use of Newspaper articles.
2. It is certainly not an easy task to convince the public of such a state which has a culture of throwing away the waste and thinks that recycling and composting are time and energy consuming. Thus, to persuade such public a strong strategy has to be implemented which has to rely on the pillars of motivation, environmental sustainability and the spirit of doing good or joy for the future community. In order to do so, a 4 phased public relation strategy has to be created, which would look like:
- Creating awareness regarding waste recycling and the demerits of throwing away waste in the open. The awareness has to be driven on Social media platforms, Billboards, Newspaper articles and road show.
- Roping in a public celebrity or a public figure as a brand ambassador for the recycling program, and using his influence and fan base to drive awareness of the campaign and other deliverables.
- Demo-run of the program for duration of 2 month, the demo run would ensure that people drop their recyclable material on time and in a proper way. Thus, in two months people will develop this habit of waste management, which they can contain for life long.
- Penalties to the household, who do not follow the rules after 2 months. This will make them do things with fear, but would still benefit the environment and do good for the economy.
- Creation of a system wherein the people who did not miss throwing away their garbage for the last 6 months will be rewarded and appraised in a public ceremony. This would motivate them to throw their garbage in the bins.
I am certain that people do have a tendency of following people; it is also termed as the jungle rule. People seeing other people following their responsibilities will get in line and starting obeying the rules. Moreover, with time people will start appreciating the change in the air they breathe and the environment near their house, they would automatically be drawn towards the success of the program and start contributing. I am certain that initiative in promoting the recycling programme will push the public to contribute in a positive manner.
3. If given a chance to make a change or the entire organizational process, I do have a lot of innovative ideas which would help the process. For instance some of the ideas contributing to the change are:
- Creating machines which can be deployed at home and are portable, handy to use, cost efficient and helps in fast recycling of the waste. Such machines would contribute to the economy as well as the environment.
- The second change would be increasing the frequency of the waste collection programme, instead of picking up the waste every two weeks; I would ensure that the waste is picked after every single week.
- If I get enough volunteers, I would scout for some top 10 areas which have maximum waste, and are resistant to change their habit. I would along with my team, visit the locality and conduct a programme myself, emphasising on the importance of this coherent programme.
Finding out the Change
I have a strategy to find out the change, I would do a detailed analysis of where exactly the programme has failed. I would identify the critical parts or the elements responsible for the failure of the programme. After analysis the points, I would undertake a project management to solve the problem. The project management will be a function of the scope, time, cost and performance and find alternatives to the problem in the programme, thus implementing the change in the end.