Event Recap: Public Relations: Building Trust and Consensus
On Thursday May 5th, WTS Boston’s Professional Development Committee hosted Lydia Rivera, of LydRiv Communications, for a presentation on public relations and the vital importance of forming relationships and gaining stakeholder buy-in. This was the Professional Development Committee’s first in-person event since the beginning of COVID-19, and were thrilled to host 20 members of our WTS community!
Lydia Rivera is Principal of LydRiv Communications. She was the former Spokesperson and Deputy Director of Communications for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
Lydia offers decades of experience in public relations, community engagement, and crisis management. A woman-owned Public Relations firm certified as a DBE/WBE/MBE in Massachusetts, Lydia’s life-long roots in Boston and her career in the public sector inspire her passion to pursue projects that build community. She focuses on promoting public awareness and participation in public projects, which she views critical to sustaining the community. Lydia continues her public service through her work on various projects in the transportation and environmental sectors.
Lydia kicked-off her presentation stating the importance of building relationships and trust with key stakeholders, like local government, public officials, and community members. This work is achieved by going out into the community and sharing information about the project, including its goals and impact on the area, such as any economic benefits or environmental risks. The feedback and input of community members should be considered during the decision-making process. Any material on the project should be accessible and translated into the languages of community members, and distributed to people’s homes, community centers, libraries, etc. to reach as many residents as possible. Public outreach should ensure that the voices and perspectives of marginalized and low-income people are heard and included.
Lydia also emphasized being aware of the politics and systems of power in the community, as well as knowing the community’s history. Lydia described a rail facility project in Springfield, MA and through discussions with community members and educating herself on the municipality’s history, she learned that community members were interested in the project’s economic and educational benefits as pathways to mobility. Lydia emphasized that her style of public relations focuses on grassroots community outreach, while the current corporate style focuses more on technology such as social media.
Public outreach is about forming relationships and trust to gain stakeholder buy-in and commitment as vital components to a project’s success. Lydia ended her presentation with a question-and-answer period, with lots of engagement and questions from attendees.