Will People Actually Read Your Water Quality Report This Year?

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Or toss it in the trash…

This short quiz will help you figure out whether your water quality report will actually get read or if it’s more likely to be tossed it in the trash (real or digital). Use the insights to improve your report and take it to the next level.

1. Which of these best describes your feelings about your water quality report?

A. A necessary evil
B. A report card
C. A regulatory requirement
D. A relationship-building opportunity

Answer: If you selected B or D, you’re on the right track. (An A or C answer pretty much guarantees it will end up in the recycling bin.)

Think of your report as an opportunity, not a necessary regulatory burden. Treat your results as a report card that clearly communicates the great work you do. A report card is the perfect model because it’s a simple and scannable document that doesn’t take much effort to read and comprehend. Your water quality report should communicate at-a-glance whether your performance is stellar, making the grade or failing, and that you’re taking corrective action.

While you’re at it, take your water quality report the next level and use it to connect with your water utility users. Share stories about the people who work at your water department to demonstrate the impact they have on the lives of local residents.

Tip: If the people who live in your community feel good about your water utility service and the people who work for it, they’ll be:

  • more patient and respectful during service calls
  • less likely to complain about rate increases
  • more likely to approve infrastructure projects.

Your report is one of the few opportunities you have to connect with the people you serve. Don’t miss out!

2. How much of the content in your water quality report (outside of all the required “legalese”) is about the work you do? How much is about the people in your community?

A. Your work: 100%. Your community: 0%
B. Your work: 80%. Your community: 20%
C. Your work: 20%. Your community: 80%
D. Your work: 0%. Your community: 100%

Answer: The best answer to this question is B.

Most water suppliers think it’s good enough to present information about themselves and the results of the work they do. (Legal requirements force a lot of this thinking.) But why stop there? Why not take take the added step of explaining how these efforts benefit the people in your community?

Aim to expand upon the information you present about your agency with insights about how it improves the lives of end-users. This can include health, lifestyle, environmental and other benefits. (If you run into space issues, take a creative approach to limit the amount of space the “legal” takes up so you can find room for more community-focused content.)

Remember: You don’t want readers to put down your report and think: “So what?”

3. How would you describe the cover or online opening screen of your water quality report?

A. More compelling than a meme gone viral
B. Attractive
C. Meets requirements
D. Dishwater is less dull

Answer: The best answer to this one is A.

Your consumer confidence report, whether it’s printed or delivered online, is competing against a lot of attractive and compelling content these days. If you want it to be read, your report has to be equal to or better than all the other things your users could be looking at. (That includes everything from super hero videos to news and gossip blogs.)

The good news: There’s a lot of great (and affordable) water- and community-related imagery available today. It’s worth the time to find options your user base will find interesting. If you use your own images, take a little extra time to treat them in an unusual way. Crop or filter them so viewers take a second look.

Don’t be afraid to be bold with your imagery and headlines. It’s what people expect these days. (Remember: There’s a difference between bold and inaccurate. Make sure you keep your boldness factual.)

4. How many charts, graphs, illustrations, infographics and maps do you use in your report?

A. None
B. One
C. Three
D. Five

Answer: The WRONG answer is A. (The RIGHT one depends on the information you’re conveying.)

We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when it comes to presenting data. Why force people to read (something fewer and fewer want to do in the smartphone era) when you can package-up your stats so they can be understood at-a-glance?

5. Be honest. Where should your agency’s consumer confidence report ultimately end up?

A. Immediately tossed in the trash
B. On the refrigerator
C. Read and shared in the household
D. In the internet ether

Answer: The best answer is C.

You definitely want your CCR to get read. Why waste your time creating something no one pays attention to? Challenge yourself to create a report that gets immediate attention and is shared within the household. Aspire to have families use it to learn about the water you supply to their homes and the important service you provide to the community.

So how did you do? If you found that your report is more trash-worthy than read-able, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. If you need some new, innovative ideas, check out Goldstreet Designs. We’ll review your current report and provide you with fresh insights on how to take it to the next level.

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