The Board of Supervisors
voted, 3-2, on August 12, 1997, to award a $325,000 contract, for the El
Toro Airport project,
to the Nelson Communications Group.
The following is a section of Nelson's proposal package to the County.
A proposal to the Board of Supervisors by Nelson Communications Group
Motto: "One County... One Future... El Toro"
DIGITAL (INTERNET) PR
El Toro On-line. An analysis of World Wide Web information about the El Toro re-use issue reveals a 50-1 ratio of anti-airport to pro-airport material.
The El Toro airport Info Site, <<www.eltoroairport.org>>, is an almost limitless resource of anti-airport information. The vast majority of the information contained on this site is openly hostile towards the commercial aviation re-use option. Other information is less partisan but very provocative in sowing seeds of reasonable doubt pertaining to both the feasibility and/or desirability of a commercial airport at El Toro.
The site and related links are effective at casting aspersions on the wisdom and rationale for a commercial airport at El Toro. The site also suggests alternatives to commercial aviation at El Toro and links to evidence that supports those positions. This evidence is sometimes taken out of context. However, the approach is so open and thorough that the organization does not appear to be an advocate.
Overall, the site effectively positions itself and functions as a clearinghouse of information. However, the information presented is carefully edited to present a very powerful and persuasive case against the airport.
Conversely, the on-line presence of the pro-airport forces is minimal, ineffective and insufficient. The LRA site on the County homepage (www.oc.ca.gov/eltoro) contains a brief overview of the issue; a summary of the reuse planning process; two fact sheets; a schedule of public meetings; a reuse planning timeline; general information about MCAS El Toro; and a short list of contact names.
That is the extent of the site. There are no links to experts who support an airport. There is no e-mail area that asks for comments or otherwise seeks to identify supporters or issues. There is nothing interactive or remotely engaging about it. On a scale of one to ten, this site barely registers a score in its utilization of the on-line medium to present information. It does even less in terms of presenting a compelling case in favor of a commercial airport at El Toro.
If we have learned anything from political campaigns, it is that unchallenged allegations become fact very quickly. Presently, the on-line environment is dominated by anti-airport forces. Opposition groups have taken an aggressive lead in making the case against a commercial airport.
Recommendations. One of the first objectives of the public information program is to take control. The Web site is a critical tool for bringing this about.
We recommend a Web site that operates as a balanced clearinghouse of information concerning a commercial airport re-use for El Toro. The Web site should work to encourage the free and open exchange of facts, ideas, opinions, and other legitimate information that is pertinent to questions surrounding the re-use of El Toro.
Nelson Group will make renovation of the existing LRA site one of our highest priorities. A complete graphic redesign and content overhaul are necessary to insure that the site performs in a manner consistent with overall program objectives.
The tone of the LRA site, in its language and graphic appearance, needs to be more inviting, friendly and engaging. There are a myriad of strategies and tactics that can be employed to accomplish this. Due to space limitations these cannot be covered here in a comprehensive way. Other strategic elements to our approach would likely involve phrasing links as questions instead of statements to maximize site interactivity (what we call the Jeopardy Principle).
Infinitely more important than the look and feel of the site, however,
is its substance. On the Web, content is king. We recommend a dramatic
expansion of the LRA site's content and capabilities. Some top-line
content recommendations include:
*Background and history
* Location and maps
* Aerial photographs
* Summary of the commercial airport reuse plan
* Reuse planning process and timeline
* Relevant fact sheets and backgrounders (SIC)
* Issue summaries with pro/con positions, including:
Take-off and landing directions
Commercial airport needsóexisting capacity and future demand
Other Southern California airports
Projected impact on real estate values
The buffer zone
Legal restrictions and requirements
How much will it cost and whoís paying?
* Massive links library (a link to any and every related and relevant
site should be providedóthis is, after all, an information clearinghouse.
Our job is to empower people to make up their own minds. We also should
ask these sites to link back to us to help drive traffic and increase awareness).
* E-mail feedback system
* List of contacts
* Upcoming meetings
* TV listings
* News archives
* Forum for hosted, moderated discussions (may include guest speakers, experts, etc.)
* Unmoderated discussion area for visitors to post comments and exchange ideas
We believe strongly that a strategic on-line presence is a critical component of any contemporary public awareness campaign. Indeed, understanding how to effectively leverage digital media, particularly the Internet and the World Wide Web, is an increasingly important component of successful communications programming.
Nelson Group was the first public relations firm in Orange County to establish a Web site. Years earlier, the firm was among the first to use other leading edge technologies including satellite media tours, video news releases and leadership databases. We recognize that, by itself, technology isn't enough. But we are also committed to exploring new ideas and new techniques in a relentless pursuit of results for our clients. We may not use the same tools to tackle each client engagement, but our approach is always the same: Understand the problem and solve it.
El Toro Airport Web Site Editor's
From the first day, our site has had a link to the County of Orange web site. We look forward to the County upgrading the information which it provides via Internet, and will continue to link to that site. We hope that the County will have the courage and openess to link to our site.