Today, energy companies are faced with numerous challenges. Those can increase when they enter a new area of operations. In this blog, we’ve highlighted some of BRITT’s tips to helps clients strategize and implement a successful entry to a new area and be the new neighbour communities want to have.
The start is simple; begin with the end in mind. How do you want to be remembered when you leave? Your strategy needs to reflect this.
1: Focus on building a relationship with an emphasis on face-to-face communication where possible. Start with a solid foundation, creating trust is the base of it.
Get to know who is important in the community. It becomes easy to appeal to, and align with, common values and needs. Know what yours are and that of the community you are entering. And get to know who speaks on behalf of, or has authority, in the community. This includes the formal leaders and, even more importantly, the informal leaders or the loudest voices.
2: Get a feel for the area! Spend some time driving around. Stop to chat with a local resident when out and about or at a coffee shop. Know where the locals like to go and the area draws/landmarks.
3: Ask what it is missing to make the community flourish? This does not automatically mean giving money, it can be that, where appropriate. It can also mean providing job opportunities to the local workforce, contributing to local events by volunteering time, sharing knowledge at schools – at BRITT we have a toolbox of initiatives that can make a positive impact with a range of investment costs.
Challenges in the area, what are they? In developed areas, it might be cumulative effects, infrastructure impacts, legacy issues with former producers, bankruptcies, and abandonments. In new (greenfield) areas it might be lack of understanding of your operations and their impact within the community. Be prepared to address, and if possible or necessary, mitigate concerns.
4: Review existing land use. Who are the previous and current operators and what are they doing? Look at farming, ranching, residential/acreage community, and topography impacts. Know where critical existing infrastructure is including schools, hospitals, community Centers, etc. What recreational areas are around and important to the community?
5: Focus on how you can make a community’s past negative experiences better. What specifically will you do to avoid or mitigate it? Do not shy away from these conversations.
6: Tune in. Subscribe to the local media outlets. Look for opportunities to attend local sessions, town halls, markets.
Consider working with other operators/producers in the area. This can help to create consistent messages, share knowledge where it makes sense, discuss ways to mitigate cumulative impacts and work more collectively with communities.
7: Collaboration! Keep what you need to confidential and share the rest. What have other operators in the area learned, what are your shared interests… set up a local operator interest meeting or producers’ group.
Share as transparently as possible. Be clear about the projects and their impacts and do not focus on selling your project. Communities are becoming wary of sales pitches. If your project has undesirable impacts, focus on how those are managed.
For more information about how we can help you on your next project, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.