The public involvement challenge many companies and governmental entities face is to put infrastructure that the public needs in places they don’t want and financing the effort with taxes and fees the public prefers not to pay.

While NIMBY attitudes are often disparaged, from the public perspective infrastructure efforts often look like an inappropriate display of government and corporate power that steps on private concerns and community values.

To solve the dilemma, one must earn a reputation for listening, responding creatively and then following through on promises made to the public in every detail.  This requires selecting the right public involvement processes, using robust communications to deliver key messages with discipline; and integrating public input processes with other opinion-leader communications such as intergovernmental relations, marketing, and media relations.

The keys to success when involving the public, I believe, are as follows:

  • Know with certainty whether you intend to educate the public, engage the public in decision-making, or mediate among differing points of view. Be clear about your goals with yourself, your staff, and the public.
  • Identify stakeholders dispassionately and seek great intellectual intimacy with them. You know you’re ready to make your own case when you can, with empathy, present the public’s concerns as they would.
  • Seek to understand the natural hierarchy of public groups; keep key people informed to the greatest degree possible. At the end of the day, the most bitterly opposed stakeholder should be able to say he or she was treated with respect.
  • Use the media pro-actively to get your message through to the public, but never hesitate to go directly to the public via social media, the Internet or through personal appearances.

I bring together knowledge of strategic planning, communications planning, journalism and public input processes utilized by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation ( My practical and grassroots approach is informed by 13 years of experience as a journalist for the Houston Chronicle (covering the Legislature) and Austin American-Statesman (where I covered regional growth) and 20 years experience as an executive manager for the Lower Colorado River Authority, where I was engaged in communications and strategic planning and responsible for public participation efforts. I can be your spokesman to the public and media and am equally comfortable standing before hostile audiences and sitting in a conference room promoting dialogue using facilitation skills learned at the Center for Dispute Resolution (CDR) of Boulder, Colorado.

Every kind of growth, except one, has winners and losers. The exception to that rule is growth in trust, which benefits all.

– Robert Cullick

Contact Us

Robert Cullick Communications
tel. 512.619.9192
fax 512.459.3990

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Robert Cullick in the News