Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner
When the Seattle Solid Waste Utility, the department responsible for trash pick-up and disposal, moved during 1988-90 to introduce curbside recycling and other dramatic changes in garbage collection, director Diana Gale believed presentation of the utility's plans to the press would be crucial to their prospects for public acceptance. This case recounts the elaborate but successful strategies Gale employed, ranging from training sessions for utility employees run by former television news anchors, to the advent of the utility's own weekly newsletter to track problems and changes in the new garbage program. The case is designed both to allow for discussion of what makes for effective or ineffective relations between the public manager and the press, and to raise questions about the relative motivations of each party. In addition, the case can be used to pose the question of what methods are appropriate for a public agency to use in presenting its program initiatives to the public – and whether it is a necessary or proper use of funds when public agencies employ public relations and advertising tactics.