Effective stakeholder communication and engagement was critical to the success of SCIRT's rebuild programme. In a post-disaster environment, the community was already under considerable stress. About 150 SCIRT construction projects at any one time within a relatively small city (population approx. 360,000) could be highly disruptive to residents, businesses and commuters.
SCIRT rebuild work created noise, dust, vibrations, road closures and detours, often over many months. Recognising the importance of community well-being, and the need for public support to enable SCIRT to do its work, the SCIRT Board (see Governance) set specific objectives for communications:
- Maintain an open and honest dialogue with all residents over the rebuild effort
- Maintain high levels of customer service in the rebuild effort
The Board selected Community and Stakeholder Engagement as a Key Result Area (KRA) and set KPIs for communications that factored into SCIRT's overall performance scorecard and the Delivery Team work allocation process. Performance was measured through a rigorous research programme.
The SCIRT Communication Team was structured to be accountable for two key areas of responsibility:
- A team of five communication people in the Integrated Services Team (IST) who were responsible for overarching communication strategy, media management, escalated issues management, key stakeholder liaison and monitoring and reporting on performance.
- A team of up to ten communication people in each of the five delivery teams who carried out day-to-day communication with communities on their specific projects.
The Communication Team was committed to being highly responsive with an empathetic approach. The shared vision was "setting a new benchmark for post-disaster communication". The overall purpose of the team was "to collaborate and share as both one team and as smaller teams to provide coordinated, best practice communication and community engagement about the infrastructure rebuild for and with the people of Christchurch".
Feedback from the community and formal market research endorsed the success of the Communication Team structure and strategy.