Collaborative Services’ next blog topic will be on communications for the nation’s BIG projects. Creating big projects is in our human nature. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Greek Parthenon, the Roman Forum, the Empire State Building…The list is long and here’s proof of that. We think it’s fitting to kick it off right after Labor Day, which honors workers and their deeds, many of which are quite amazing.
We continue to be dazzled by these projects. Think of the millions of visitors who trek to see such wonders as the iconic sites in Balboa Park built for two world fairs or Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Who doesn’t want to walk, bike or drive across the San Francisco Bay Bridge and be in awe of its engineering wizardry?
In the coming weeks, our blog will explore communications for BIG projects that are either under construction or planned to be built in the near future.
Generally, the bigger the project, the bigger the public involvement and messaging strategy needs to be. By their very nature, these projects have BIG footprints and many, oh so many, people to inform and engage.
Think of the California High Speed Rail, for instance. In a state that performs economically like the 9th largest country in the world, that’s a lot of people to engage. The initial link alone is 130 miles in length from Madera to Bakersfield and includes all the communities and stakeholders in between. (Go to their website and it proclaims, Californians are Thinking Big Again.)
Across the country in New York City, an icon – the World Trade Center – is being rebuilt. Today marks the anniversary of its attack. It marks when rebuilding began – for the building, as well as for the families who lost loved ones and the country who lost its sense of safety from the world. For it, nearly 5000 people gathered for a town hall meeting about the project’s alternatives and design. That meeting was larger than many communities across the nation. And, since the attacks, millions of us have visited the rebuilding site.
And these projects come with BIG price tags. Take Boston’s notorious “Big Dig.” Costs for that transportation improvement project were initially estimated to be $2.8 billion. It grew to $14.6 billion and became the most expensive highway project in the nation at the time.
That’s why such initiatives need public vetting and input – and they need it BIG. Thinking BIG is a challenge not simply of construction and engineering, but generating public excitement and support, as well as answering criticism in a way that solves problems early.
Those challenges make some wonder if we have still the gumption to build big projects anymore. In this Forbes article, “Why Can’t We Do Big Things Anymore,” the author notes that we no longer have the tallest buildings in the world or undertake such enormous challenges such as landing on the moon.
But as you will see in the coming weeks in our blog, there are a number of BIG projects that are now being realized or are on the horizon. They include wind farms, solar plants, stadiums, bridges…Sorry, no pyramids.
We will explore some of these projects and how they came to be despite the obstacles they faced. BIG projects can be BIG gambles, no question. They are clearly opportunities for communications and communicating their benefits go on well after the construction is over. We look forward to this month with you and will be back next week with more.
Mike Stetz, Senior Writer
Collaborative Services, Inc.