Intro | Examples | PR Concept | The Plan | Effectiveness | Philosophy
Issues & Concerns | Implementation | Communication | Conclusion


As noted in the introduction, the purpose of the paper is to present a model PR program or Communication Plan for application on future projects. The eight steps identified in developing the Plan, the suggested program philosophy and possible audiences all point the way towards gaining approval for its implementation. The overall objective should be to create the most favorable climate in which the project can be implemented efficiently.

Often the internal need to make sure that the corporate view is clear to all those on the job, particularly one which covers a large area such as a transit project, is paramount. Non-conformers can be dangerous as they are perceived as having inside information and can considerably lower the credibility of the project. A very positive effort is necessary to avoid confrontation with the public. The media is a fact of life in forming public opinion, they can be an enemy or an ally. The key is to know them, be familiar with them and get them to trust you. On a large project it is necessary to talk to them all the time.

The specific Plan Objectives, and the extensive list of items for developing a work breakdown make it clear that there are a large number of items which will conceivably need attention. That all the items listed could be beneficial will be self evident. However, as with project management itself, the difficulty lies in quantifying the potential results at the outset in order to justify the expense of the program.

Perhaps the most telling justification for instituting some sort of plan, is that no matter what the project, there will always be some criticism. The cries of the critics will only be assuaged by someone who has had the time and forethought to be ready with the answers before the outcry gets out of hand. The cost of even a short delay during the height of construction can be out of all proportion to the cost of a little foresight and "oil on troubled waters".

The mark of a successful project is one in which those directly involved complete it with a sense of a job well done, and those only indirectly involved are left with an aura of pride and satisfaction.

The assistance of the Rapid Transit and Expo staffs and others in contributing to this paper is gratefully acknowledged.


In this year 2001, with its high-tech advances and changes in public attitudes and demands, one cannot help but reflect on those projects of some fifteen years ago. In my view they provided very valuable lessons in how to handle large infrastructure projects. Which, of course, is why I have reproduced this paper on this web site! For those who are not familiar with Vancouver, here are some observations on each of the three projects.

Project #1: LNG

The proposal for this project was duly submitted. However, shortly thereafter, the expected increases in energy prices did not materialize (at least not then) and the provincial government abandoned its proposal invitation. In fact, the Japanese, who then were very concerned about their energy supplies to maintain their booming economy, found that their needs were either over secured or otherwise did not rise to the levels expected. Under these circumstances the project would not have been viable.

Project #2: ALRT

The official opening of the Advanced Light Rapid Transit system, or "Sky Train" as it is now called, was designed to provide much needed transit service within Greater Vancouver as well as additional access to the Expo 86 world-class exhibition. The system was completed very successfully slightly under budget and ahead of schedule. So much so, that the system survived a full scale trial providing free public rides one weekend before the official opening of the exhibition. In fact the system was tested at overload capacity.

Since then, considering the technological innovation involved in this project, the system has performed remarkably well, especially compared to similar systems built elsewhere then and since. In spite of the high initial cost, in my view, it has been a considerable asset to the area and a worthwhile return on investment. The line has been extended and is currently being extended again.

Project #3: Expo 86

Expo 86 was a wonderfully fun time for all the visitors that it brought from all over the world. It too was "within budget" and opened as it must, on the due date. Bearing in mind the number of exhibitors involving many different organizations and their respective contractors, the project was a real challenge for the organizers and required very determined project management. A few exhibitors did fall by the way side, being unable to meet their committed dates. The exhibition introduced Vancouver to the world and established it as a world-class city. Unlike other exhibitions that have lost money, there can be no doubt that it was a good return on investment.

Since then, of course, the temporary platforms over the water on which some of the exhibits pavilions sat have long since been cleared away and the original land is now the site of a large and expensive high-rise downtown residential development.

© 2001

Communication Plan Objectives  Communication Plan Objectives

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