Trust and reputation create the foundation for any public infrastructure project to succeed. Without these two cornerstones, positioning your current and future projects for success may become an upward battle with the odds stacked against you.

Building and operating an infrastructure project is a complex task that requires constant moving parts from subcontractors to stakeholders. With so many elements that need to be coordinated, there are extensive opportunities for things to go wrong and have your company’s reputation negatively impacted.

Therefore, it’s important to understand what you can do to maintain a strong public image throughout a large-scale infrastructure project.

Elements to consider which can easily create reputational damage are:

Traffic management

Infrastructure projects almost always disrupt the community. Largescale projects tend to take months or even years, so the disruption is ongoing and can be significant. Diversions or partial road closures will negatively impact the flow of traffic and the accessibility of streets and businesses. This can make it difficult for businesses to operate as normal and for people to go about their daily lives. However, traffic disruption is a foreseeable issue, so there is ample opportunity to conduct proper planning and care regarding traffic management. It’s essential to put measures in place to preserve traffic capacity and uphold safety. Frustrations can grow within communities and quickly impact your reputation without these measures.

Workplace health and safety

Workplace accidents can be catastrophic for an organisation’s reputation. This can be even more pronounced when organisations have failed to meet rigorous health and safety standards. Managing workplace health and safety is non-negotiable. However, workplace accidents can happen even under the best of circumstances and, although these accidents are never good news, it is how you respond that dictates the impact on your reputation. People need to know that they will be treated fairly, that the incident will be managed in a way that’s consistent with workplace health and safety policies, that you will be open about what has happened and how you’re responding, and that you will implement changes if appropriate to reduce the chance of a repeat event.

Contract disputes

Contract disputes can play a significant factor in damaging an organisation’s reputation throughout an infrastructure project. This is because disputes can be extremely time-consuming, which can cause delays to the overall project. Disputes can also significantly damage relationships with stakeholders and tarnish the reputations of all involved. Therefore, understanding the areas of risk and proactively managing disputes is a crucial skill needed for any project to keep a reputation intact.


It’s essential to carefully select and manage subcontractors to prevent damage to the project’s reputation. These smaller organisations have the potential to create significant issues that can adversely affect your reputation. For example, they may become non-compliant with requirements, procedures or health and safety regulations. The way a subcontractor conducts themselves can be seen as a reflection of the larger project and may impact both their reputations and that of the infrastructure project.

The reverse is also true. Larger organisations mistreating subcontractors, such as failing to pay on time, can cause these smaller businesses to lose money or even go out of business. Stakeholders tend to frown on what could be perceived as bullying behaviour by project owners, so it’s essential to maintain a level of care, fairness and financial transparency in the treatment of subcontractors.


Timing can be everything. Failing to manage public perceptions of timing by creating unrealistic deadlines or deadlines that do not consider the possibilities of delays can result in reputational damage. Large projects always come with the possibility of delays because there is so much complexity and so many moving pieces to manage. Delays can come from elements such as weather, labour or equipment availability, or shipping delays. It is essential to plan for these risks and prepare responses for issues rather than to appear unprepared and irresponsible.

Collateral impact

By definition, public infrastructure projects have a public impact, and any adverse perceptions by local or surrounding communities can easily sway collective thoughts and feelings towards your projects. Construction-related disruption can cause collateral impact to residents and businesses. It can often be seen as a nuisance or worse, resulting in campaigns for change or advocating against further developments in the future. These unfavourable perceptions can cause both immediate and long-lasting damage to both your project and organisation. To effectively manage the collateral impact, it’s essential to create channels of communication with stakeholders and communities through meetings, forums, discussions, or workshops as early in the planning process as possible.

Throughout the lifespan of an infrastructure project, many situations can arise that could potentially damage your reputation. However, with proper planning and the right communication strategies, it is possible to not only maintain your reputation but enhance it. Consulting with an experienced communication team can alleviate the risks and illuminate opportunities by proactively planning and positioning your public infrastructure project for success.