Drinking water

When facts move: the context

Suppose some people die after drinking water from their own tap in their own kitchen, drinking water that is supposed to be safe and drinkable that is. Who would be held responsible for the unfortunate victims? Probably the drinking water company. The company however states in its press release ‘that it has nothing to do with it’. That might cause massive damage to their reputation. Even if the company really has nothing to do with it.

In whatever manner the company formulates the answer, it will probably be too late. If an organization does have to endure the possible criticism, whilst not really having anything to do with the matter, the situation might get rather serious. This can be prevented though. But then, one has to be prepared well ahead of time and preferably before any victims are to be mourned after.

Our service: Moving factual complexes from the one context to the other in order to construe a ‘new reality’ demands a thorough insight into the tasks of the organization and the files on which the organization operates. These files know different stakeholders concerned with the work in question. One can approach these by way of a roadshow to discuss the problem at hand, and organize everyone in a platform to deal with spokespersonship and interviews with the press. Next to thorough research into different files that the company might be related to, this kind of stakeholder management has to be accompanied by well structured media policy.

Geothermy and legionella

Suppose a municipality decides to start to use geothermal power, a closed system of earth warmth, as a source of energy. It could provide for a CO2-neutral heating system. The tubes however can come too close to the tubes of the drinking water and hence heighten the risk of legionella infection from the taps of the households using that water. The context of the environment or CO2 is none of the business of a water company, but if people get infected with a dangerous disease because of drinking water at home, the company might be liable, either legally but at any rate probably socially. A water company is not to be expected to have anything sensible to say about health care so it is rather troublesome if it finds itself there. It does however, has a lot of expertise on the infrastructure of the world beneath the surface, the world of tubes, cables and pipes. We put the stakes of the stakeholder management on this file. The context moved from ‘environment’ to ‘industrial world underneath’. The stakeholders and the facts moved along, the platform took care of a position of the water company in the discussion about the infrastructure. The geothermical tubes were placed elsewhere and there were no victims. The reputation of the company stood as a problem solver, the so called ‘hero’ in the narrative of this frame, so different of the environmental frame.


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