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Module 1: Communicating 3Ts

Developing a Communication Plan
Have a Plan
At the heart of an effective communication plan is preparation and coordination to deliver information swiftly,
professionally, and consistently. Telling parents and staff about your 3Ts Program will demonstrate your
commitment to protecting children and staff health. Communicating early and often about your testing plans,
results, and next steps will build confidence in your ability to provide a safe environment.
When developing your communication plan:
	Take the initiative to communicate with your community
	Make sure your information is honest, accurate, and comprehensive
	Speak with one consistent voice
	Anticipate questions and concerns and address them proactively
	Be positive and forthcoming
	Keep your audiences up-to-date as new information becomes available
Follow these steps and utilize the templates in Module 1 to developing a
successful and proactive communication plan.
STEP 1: Get Your Team Together
Assemble a team with technical and communications expertise. Draw from internal resources as well as
professionals and leaders in your community. Designate a spokesperson to make announcements, respond to
questions, and conduct interviews in order to ensure the accuracy and consistency of public information.
You can learn more about other roles in your 3Ts Program in the Assigning Roles factsheet under Module 3:
Planning a 3Ts Program.
Helpful Tip...
To support engagement
with the community and
build trust, it is important
to begin communication
before testing starts and
be open and transparent
throughout the process.
Office of Water
EPA 815-F-18-005
October 2018

Fill out the chart below to get started building your team. Note, some people may have more than one role.
3Ts Program Communication Contact: This person will act as
the point of contact for your 3Ts Program and help
coordinate the communication efforts.

Partner Liaison Contact: This person will communicate with
partners as the 3Ts Program progresses to ensure everyone is
kept in the loop.

Website and Social Media Contact: This person will make
sure websites and social media stay up to date with the latest

Public Hotline: Will you have a website or hotline for people
to use to get more information? This person can monitor this
to ensure questions and concerns are being responded to.

Communication of Lead Health Risks: You should work with
your health department to communicate lead health risks
and information about blood lead testing for children.

STEP 2: Create a Contact List
Having names, phone numbers, and email addresses at your fingertips is vital, especially when a quick
response is necessary. Create a contact list and update it regularly. It should include task force members as
well as fact-finding and communications contacts, including:
State Department of Health
State Drinking Water Program
EPA Regional Office
Utility/Water Supplier
Media (Newspaper, TV, Radio, Web, and
Newswire Outlets)
School Superintendent
School Board Members
Civic Leaders
Local Public Health Officials
Head of Building
Maintenance/Custodial Services
State Department of Education
STEP 3: Identify Your Target Audiences
Generally, there are six primary audiences or interested parties involved in the control of lead in drinking
1.	School or Child Care Facility Community: Employees, students, and parents should be informed and
involved from the beginning of the process.
2.	Building Community: The building community includes people other than those included in the school
or child care facility community who may use the building for other functions (e.g., local community
groups, school board members). Members of the building community probably do not utilize the
building as frequently as the members of the school or child care facilities community, but they should
still be kept informed and up-to-date regarding lead in the drinking water.

3.	Larger Community: The larger community may consist of local residents and businesses in the school
or child care facility's district or town. The local and regional media can serve as a conduit for
information for the larger local community. It is important that you be prepared to generate accurate
news releases. The spokesperson or task force should be prepared to respond to interview requests
with accurate and consistent information.
4.	Local Community Organizations: Local health officials, such as health officers, environmental health
specialists, doctors, and nurses, can help you and your community understand health risks associated
with elevated lead levels in drinking water. Local environmental community organizations may have an
interest and potential assistance or resources for schools and child care facilities. The same may apply
for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
5.	State Drinking Water Programs: State drinking water programs are responsible for ensuring that public
water systems comply with the state and federal regulations regarding lead in drinking water. States
may be able to provide guidance on or technical assistance with communication plan, health risks, and
identifying other lead sources.
6.	Drinking Water Community: Public water systems comprise the regulated drinking water community,
and they are responsible for complying with all national and state drinking water standards. The public
water system that serves your facility can provide technical information to support your program and
can provide information to the community about what the system is doing to minimize lead in drinking
STEP 4: Know Your Methods of Communication
The public notification methods described below can be applied independently or in combination to
communicate about drinking water issues and the meaning of sampling program results.
Important note: You should also plan how you will provide information in other languages, as appropriate, or
provide a contact name for non-English speakers to get more information.
	Methods of Communication	
Press Release: A press release in the local newspaper or on local TV and radio stations can potentially reach
a broad range of people. It is important that the release inform readers of how to obtain the sampling
results and other lead information (as it pertains to drinking water) and include the phone number of the
point(s) of contact.
Letters/Fliers: Letters or fliers represent a direct and effective method of communicating 3Ts Program
activities to parents/guardians and other members of a school, child care facility, or building community.
Mailbox or Paycheck Stuffers: Mailbox and paycheck stuffers represent a direct and effective method of
communicating 3Ts Program activities to your employees. Stuffers would contain information similar to that
contained in a press release or letter/flier.
Staff Newsletter: A notice contained in a staff newsletter is another option for directly and effectively
communicating information about the 3Ts Program to employees.
Presentations: Providing presentations at facility-related meetings can also serve as an effective means of
communication. Relevant events include meetings of PTAs, faculty, and the school board.

Email and Websites: Electronic communications are convenient for many parents. Websites can be updated
frequently to quickly convey new information. Consider creating a separate email address for the 3Ts
Program and providing it on the website and outreach materials. Email provides a quick, easy method for
parents to ask questions, but responses must be timely to be effective.
Social Media: Updates on the status of the 3Ts Program and information on regular activities can be
provided to the public with ease via official social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter).
STEP 5: Identify Times for Communicating
Timely dissemination of communication materials is of the utmost importance. Public communication efforts
are less complicated and generate less conflict if those potentially affected are notified in advance of
important issues and events.
At a minimum, EPA recommends that schools and child care facilities provide information to members of the
local community, building community, and the larger community (if appropriate) at the following times:
	Before the lead in drinking water sampling program begins
	After obtaining the results of testing:
o As soon as the results are available
o When/if corrective measures are decided upon
o If no corrective measures are appropriate because the lead levels are
	In response to periodic interest in the program
STEP 6: Start Communicating!
Remember to communicate throughout your 3Ts Program, and work with partners and your communication
team to be proactive and transparent. Recommended steps to help make your program a success:
	Launch an ongoing campaign of education and awareness, capitalizing on a variety of communication
	Prepare a fact sheet so that your spokesperson has accurate, up-to-date information about the status
of your plumbing system and program.
	Post information on your website in a central location.
	Make sure your communication materials include:
o Details about the nature of the 3Ts Program
o The results of the sampling program and plans for correcting any identified problems
o Information on the public health effects and risks posed by lead in drinking water and the
significance of lead other sources of lead such as food, air, dust, and soil
o How and where individuals may seek blood-lead level testing if they are concerned
o How families can increase their awareness of potential lead exposure in their homes and
o The availability of general resources on lead in drinking water

Don't Forget to Maintain a Record!
It is important to keep an ongoing record of public outreach and communication activities. By
documenting outreach and the public's response, you can learn how to improve upon your public
communication plan. For example, it might be helpful to keep a running log of questions received
from the community that could be addressed in future communications.
Keep copies of past communication materials and dates they were sent out.
Strong recordkeeping can prove to be helpful in illustrating what steps you have
taken to notify the public of testing efforts and results.
Additional Resources
View the 3Ts toolkit page for more resource to help you:
	Get your team together
	Create a contact list
	Identify your target area
	Know your methods of communication
	Identify timing for communication
	Start communicating!
All materials can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/3Ts.