My name is Blythe Payne, and I have been a Communications Specialist for a little over a year at Hollaway Environmental + Communications.
What does a Communications Specialist do, exactly? The day-to-day for a Communications Specialist can vary; so let me walk you through what a week leading up to a public meeting can look like!
A week out from the public meeting, we will be coordinating any last-minute changes or edits to meeting collateral, such as handouts, FAQs, or digital presentations. We also make sure to order the exhibit boards or other printed materials for the meeting from a local print shop. We create and check the name tags for the project team for the upcoming meeting.
The day before the meeting, our team will send out a coordination email to the project team, detailing what to expect, directions to the venue, what time to arrive, and other pertinent pieces of information.
Our team also stages the equipment needed for the public meeting. To make sure we don’t miss anything, we create a packing list, based on the specific meeting. Items on our list can include computer/tv monitors, projectors, easels, tablecloths, cameras, boxes for the documents and name tags, sanitation equipment, snacks and water for the staff, and of course the many extension cords, pens, tape, and anything else needed to make a public meeting run smoothly. We will always double-check our lists and confirm essential items with each other to ensure that we don’t miss critical materials, like the flash drive with the client presentation.
The day of the public meeting, our team gathers at our office very early to pack the van with all the equipment we staged the day before. We will do one last check, and then head to the venue. The team plans to arrive at the meeting venue at least five hours before event start time to allow set-up time.
Our team puts a lot of thought into how we set up the room for a public meeting. For example, the room should feel open, and the flow and direction of the exhibits should make sense for members of the public to navigate, allowing all information and materials to be accessed. We also need to make sure technology is correctly configured for presentations. These are behind-the-scenes aspects our team considers carefully for each meeting.
During the meeting, our team will complete tasks such as running the registration table, ensuring technology is working at the venue, taking photographs to document the meeting, or even running the PowerPoint presentation.
Conducting a public meeting requires thinking on your feet and being able to swiftly and deftly navigate interactions with members of the public and the project team. We know that planning a public meeting can seem daunting, but our team is adept in preparing for and handling all the details so both the project team and the public are free to focus on the project information they are there to discuss.
Once the meeting has wrapped up and we are done for the day, we pack everything up, load it into our vehicles, drive back to the office, unload, and log the comments and attendee list from the meeting.
After the actual meeting is complete, our team ensures the meeting is documented correctly, including creating a summary report. The summary report is an important meeting element that may be overlooked, but this document is vital to finalizing a successful public meeting by providing post-meeting evaluation and recordkeeping.
Another successful public meeting on the books!