How to Change Public Behaviors Through Communications

Using the California Drought as a Case Study

Open to All PRSA Members | Hosted by the Public Affairs and Government Section

This section webinar is not currently available. Email the Sections Department to inquire about future availability of this program.

Category: Communication Strategy

The U.S. Government Accountability Office indicates that 40 states expect to see water shortages over the next decade. Are you prepared for the communications challenges?

California is in the midst of the worst drought in the state’s recorded history. How are communications professionals there effectively changing public behaviors and perceptions around this topic? How does past experience inform current practice?

Join this discussion on how to manage behaviors toward challenging solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Using California’s water crisis as a case study, you will learn how to better:

  • Communicate and manage the rollout of potentially challenging policies.
  • Develop robust and sustained public outreach.
  • Engage strategic stakeholders and educate surrogates.


Patricia Tennyson, executive vice president, Katz & Associates

Photo of Patricia Tennyson

Tennyson has developed and managed communications, government/community relations and public affairs/media strategies for water, recycled water, potable reuse and wastewater projects for agencies including the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, Fort Worth Water, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Honolulu Board of Water Supply, San Diego County Water Authority, West Basin Municipal Water District, El Paso Water Utilities and many more.  She has a B.A. from Southern Methodist University, an M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University and an M.P.A. from San Diego State University. 

Ruth Bernstein, senior principal, EMC Research

Photo of Ruth Bernstein

Bernstein is recognized as one of the top pollsters in the field for her ability to keep research focused on her clients’ goals. A guest lecturer at UC Berkeley and University of San Francisco, Bernstein trains women interested in seeking elective office in partnership with Emerge California, the regional arm of a national network working in 14 states to promote women in politics. She received her B.A. in Economics from Smith College. Previous to her role with EMC Research, she staffed and managed campaigns for candidates in Arizona and California, with duties including budgeting, fund raising, field program management and scheduling communications.


Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, owner, CAT 5 Communications, Inc.

Photo of Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR

With 30 years of experience in public relations, Smith has spent her career framing and communicating issues, managing communications during crises and lobbying for policy changes at the state and national levels. She advocates for all public relations professionals to know the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and recognize its relevance in most any event, planned or unplanned.



Participants with the APR credential earn 1.0 APR Maintenance Credit for a webinar. Learn more about Accreditation maintenance.