Karen Raucher is a policy analyst and risk communication specialist with expertise identifying how to gather, develop, and effectively share complex, uncertain information with a wide diversity of audiences. Ms. Raucher played a leading role in recent strategic climate change communication and policy-focused research for the Water Research Foundation, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA), and the WateReuse Research Foundation, as well as for a broad range of individual water utilities. She brings cutting-edge insights to the understanding and application of effective communication and long-term decision-making strategies to address large future uncertainty as well as complex regulatory challenges.
- Most Americans don’t understand the difference between weather and climate so always begin the conversation with that assumption. “Weather is the clothes you wear today. Climate is the clothes you have in the closet.”
- Consider conducting audience segmentation analysis on your customers in order to communicate more effectively. Not all audiences think the same way. People respond to information based on their attitudes, actions, beliefs, and values.
- You can say the “c” word aka climate change. Don’t skirt around using it. More people will be upset with you if you don’t use the word versus if you do.
- Start small. Begin the conversation internally and reach out to your trusted subject matter experts.
- Climate change is only one of the many uncertainties facing water utilities today. Water utilities need to be saying more to their customers about these challenges and uncertainties versus springing information on them at the last minute. Customers need to be engaged and aware of what’s happening in their water system.
- Two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more today in order for their water utility to be prepared for the impacts of climate change in the future.
- Pessimists only makeup 8% of the population but get the most attention because they are the loudest. Don’t pander to the naysayers. Keep them on your radar and prepare leadership with talking points to respond to this segment.
- Keep the conversations and solutions surrounding climate change focused on mitigating local impacts. The regions that report the highest concern for potential impacts are regions currently experiencing extreme weather events such as severe drought or hurricanes.
The Educated by Tara Westover
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