The construction of roads, power plants, dams, and others is aimed at improving the welfare of the community. Even so, infrastructure projects often get resistance from the community. Various issues, such as environmental and social issues, usually underlie the rejection of infrastructure projects. For this reason, an analysis of environmental impacts is mandatory, as is social impact.
In fact, cases of rejection of infrastructure projects are not only common in Indonesia. In developed countries such as the United States this also happens. For example, in the case of an infrastructure project in California, Sunrise Powerlink, a 117 miles or nearly 200 km long high-voltage power transmission network, connecting the San Diego area with renewable energy sources, with 1,000 megawatts of power in the Imperial Valley.
This renewable energy comes from solar power and wind power. This project will cost US$1.9 billion or equivalent to Rp28.5 trillion. Public challenges in the Sunrise Powerlink project come not only from land owners, but also from environmental activists. They argue that in addition to the animal and plant species being threatened by this grid, generating local electricity with solar panels in all homes is more efficient than delivering electricity from elsewhere.
The owner of the project, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) enlisted the help of a public affairs company called Southwest Strategies from San Diego. Southwest Strategies is a company with a history of 20 years. Their motto is “We drive successful public affairs campaigns through comprehensive, forward-thinking communication and unparalleled client dedication”.
Southwest Strategies conducts business based on the following values. First, cultivate leaders, or forming leaders by providing employees with ample opportunities to advance, develop and achieve success. Second, work hard and have fun, or work hard to meet client expectations by not forgetting life outside of work. Third, achieve excellence as a team. Namely, the company is committed to creating a meaningful workplace and dealing with clients based on mutual respect, inclusiveness, cooperation and having fun. Fourth, embrace diversity and inclusion. Namely, the company is committed to creating diversity and inclusive value both at work and in society. Fifth, trust and respect each other, or achieve the highest level of professionalism and integrity and respect each other.
To fulfill the duties assigned by SDGE, Southwest Strategy designed comprehensive relationships with the community. Design a campaign aimed at creating a coalition among the proponents of this high-voltage transmission network project. The implementation of this strategy was the formation of the Community Alliance for the Sunrise Powerlink (CASP), which develops into a network of 100,000 residents, elected officials, companies and labor leaders who support the project. Southwest Strategy supported the coalition’s activities through publishing fact sheets and newsletters, websites and brochures and advertising campaigns.
Specific activities include a series of open houses, individual briefings, sponsorship at key events and door-to-door campaigns and the creation of community councils to facilitate two-way dialogue. Southwest Strategies’ work was carried out in adherence to company values.
The strategy implemented by Southwest Strategy also contributed to the completion of projects that were six months earlier than the original plan. For its success, this company received four awards at the local and national levels from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Chairman & Chief Consultant, Kiroyan Partners
This article has been published in PR Indonesia magazine 55th Edition, issued on October 2019, page 58.
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