Building Trust and Educating Communities—One Operator’s Approach

Entegra Blog Building Trust and Educating Communities—One Operator’s Approach


In the pipeline industry, the Department of Transportation mandates that pipeline operators provide public service communication to adjacent landowners. Typical compliance involves the operator sending a direct mail piece, providing landowners (and anyone else who may be affected by a pipeline passing through their neighborhood) with important pipeline awareness and safety information (e.g. “Call Before You Dig” instructions and emergency contact numbers).

In light of the recent politicization and negative publicity surrounding pipelines, one operator came to the realization that mere compliance wasn’t good enough. Since pipelines are a critical piece of the national infrastructure, they decided to truly engage their affected communities in frank and open communication and begin to build a relationship with the landowners affected by their pipelines.

Easier said than done. How does a company go about building real-life relationships with individual members of the public? Push out a bunch of social media posts, right? Buy some clever Super Bowl ads, maybe? Nope. This operator went old school.

About three years ago, this operator decided to invite all their landowners to a special social event at a Cleveland Indians game. The event was a success. The number of people in attendance far exceeded the reach of even the most productive of direct mail campaigns. However, the operator still felt they could do better. Their next step was to try an event at the Ohio State Fair. Engagement doubled from the Indians game.

Determined to still improve upon their outreach process, this operator decided to involve more of the Midwest. They committed to be the event sponsor for a weekend day at the Indiana State Fair. They rented a pavilion, provided a BBQ lunch, and set up a half dozen informational stations for the landowners to peruse.

In addition to a “Call Before You Dig” station and displays on cathodic protection technology, leak detection/prevention systems, how control centers work, as well as pipe and pipe fittings, the operator asked Entegra to display one of our “smart pigs.” The term smart pig is industry slang for an in-line inspection tool designed specifically to inspect underground pipelines. We were honored to be able to show landowners the robot-like tool we created to travel down the inside of pipelines to assess the current condition of the pipe on a pro-active basis and to identify any areas for possible maintenance.

Keith Bryant, one of Entegra’s National Account Managers, attended the Indiana State Fair event along with our President, Mark Olson. “As an engineer in this field for more than two decades, this event had a big impact on me. It was incredible to have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with so many of the more than 2,000 attendees—landowners that I’ve been working to protect for most of my adult life but had never met!” Olson remarked.

The connections made, and relationships built at these types of events help people in the affected community better understand how the pipeline operators work to efficiently supply the world with the safest possible energy. “Attendees of the event left with a more heightened awareness of the pipelines in their community, and the operator’s active role in daily maintaining their pipelines,” concluded Olson.