In 2014, FH began working with Columbia Pipeline Group, now TransCanada, on the Leach XPress (LXP) — a proposed, 160-mile pipeline project to transport natural gas from Marcellus and Utica production areas in Ohio and West Virginia to regional markets.
Our task was to pave the way for the LXP through the development and execution of a community outreach program to educate and inform landowners, stakeholders and communities along the proposed route about the project.
Learning the Landscape
We began our work with extensive discovery and research, including in-depth discussions with project team members representing various facets of the project. We also conducted an analysis of the communities along the proposed route to better understand and pinpoint potential areas of contention toward the project. This included coordinating and attending meetings with media outlets along the LXP path.
Armed with these insights, we developed a community relations strategy and identified tactics to support CPG’s goals of ongoing, transparent communications with landowners, stakeholders and communities, and achieving final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct the LXP.
Strategy For Success
To accomplish CPG’s goals, our community relations strategy was to Introduce CPG and the LXP to key audiences through targeted messaging, consistent communications, educational events and media relations.
Key elements of our community relations plan included:
- LXP Brochure: We set the tone and look for the $1.6 billion LXP project with the development of a four-page brochure that highlighted the benefits of the project, including economic and employment impact.
- Landowner Newsletter: We developed a quarterly newsletter to keep important audiences informed about the LXP project. The publication included contact information for CPG project management and how landowners and stakeholders could comment on the project to FERC.
- Open House Informational Meetings: We provided communications support for seven open houses hosted to educate the public about the project and to address any concerns or issues. Our efforts included designing everything from printed invitations to newspaper ads to large displays.
- Media Relations: We maintained regular contact with media across the LXP footprint by sharing updates about the project and CPG’s donations to important causes and organizations in communities along the route.
Impact and Results
Our communications on behalf of the LXP were lauded by our client and FERC as being the gold standard for pipeline project community relations. The FH program was awarded a PRism by the central Ohio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in 2015.
The real reward, however, was achieving CPG’s goals of consistent, transparent and effective communications to key audiences and FERC approval to build the LXP, which is currently under construction and slated to go into service by the end of 2017.
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