Whether it is an independent odor monitor or a credible publication, third-party validation of your facts can be a critical key in managing an issue or telling your story.
If you face a dispute over your claims, trying to talk louder than your critics won't cut it. Your opponents will win that game. However, you can claim the high ground by generating independent facts that substantiate what you say.
A good example is the decision by Washington County to retain an odor consultant to monitor emissions from Recology's controversial compost yard next to North Plains. Recology has routinely taken odor measurements on or around its composting facility, but those results get buried by waves of neighbor complaints — even if some of the complaints are part of a campaign to get rid of the composting yard.
Third-party data from an independent source doesn't guarantee success, but it can move the conversation to a different, more fact-based plane. The discussion is no longer about how many complaints have been filed but on what measurements say about the intensity and quality of the odors.
It is wrong to think of credible third parties as only technical consultants. Highly respected publications can provide third-party testimonials by covering your story.
Damaso Rodriguez, incoming artistic director at the Portland-based Artists Repertory Theatre, recalled for a group of supporters this week how his edgy theater startup in Chicago became a hot ticket because of a favorable review in the Chicago Tribune. “We were a new theater and this was our first play," Rodriguez said, "but after the review we never had to worry about filling all our seats."