Using Community Engagement to Keep Critical Information Flowing.

For any organization, effective communication requires the right mix of people, strategies and processes. The stakes were especially high for the Harris County Flood Control District as it found itself more in the public eye than ever.

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in 2017, public sentiment changed overnight. Residents across Harris County experienced the need for large-scale flood risk reduction firsthand. The Harris County Flood Control District, which is responsible for designing and implementing flood risk reduction projects across the county’s 23 watersheds, found itself in the spotlight.

After voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 billion flood mitigation bond, the Flood Control District and the work it performs rapidly evolved, accelerating at an unprecedented pace. This funding meant hundreds of new construction and engineering projects would begin to roll out across the region over the course of a decade, placing extraordinary demands on staff and generating increased interest from local, county, regional and state public officials, residents and community groups.

Public Relations & Community Engagement Strategy:

Our challenge has been not only to identify compelling key messages for more than a dozen target audiences and stakeholder groups, but also to create and implement distinct public relations plans and community engagement initiatives across 12 of the county’s largest watersheds. Each watershed is unique, so we dove deeply into the details to develop tailored strategies and reach stakeholders in new and innovative ways.

Communications & Stakeholder Strategy:

We were also tasked with developing a global communications strategy for the organization to help educate residents on flood risk mitigation projects managed by the Flood Control District and engage stakeholders across the region. We worked with the Flood Control District and other county departments to meet with leading entities across the country and key stakeholders across the county to gather insights and best practices for the organization.

The Effects of COVID-19 & Crisis Management:

Then, as COVID-19 complicated public engagement across the world, we continued to work closely with the Flood Control District team to keep communities engaged and informed. In a region as large and diverse as Harris County, successful public outreach hinges on a thorough understanding of our key audiences and what moves them. We uncovered insights through quantitative and qualitative research to build communications strategies, messages and tactics tailored for each region and its specific issues.


From our initial engagement to analyze the communications department and provide actionable recommendations, to our continued work supporting outreach and community engagement efforts for the Flood Control District across the Houston and Harris County region, we are proud to work with an organization that not only shares our commitment to our community, but also works day in and day out to save lives.