Selling IVM to the Public: PR 101

Something went wrong. Please try again later...
Roadside weeds

Home and property owners may be slow to accept the selective herbicides and application methods associated with integrated vegetation management (IVM). Here are basic public relations tactics you can use to help educate the public on the environmental and economic benefits of IVM.


Reduced carbon emissions, expanded pollinator and wildlife habitat, increased native vegetation populations, reduced labor, equipment and fuel requirements – the environmental and economic benefits of an integrated vegetation management (IVM) program are well-researched, well-documented and well-known to vegetation management professionals.

But acknowledging those benefits within the industry and having them accepted by the public are two different things. A public more accustomed to seeing the word “herbicides” as part of a headline may be uneasy at the prospect of applications being made near or next to homes, shopping centers or other populated areas. So how can vegetation managers and their employers begin to shift opinions? By embracing opportunities to educate the public on the value of selective herbicides and selective application methods as part of an IVM program.


If you have the chance to speak with a resident or homeowner, remember that you’re not the vegetation manager … you’re the face of your utility or DOT, and the person you’re speaking with is looking to you for answers about what you’re doing and why. Use the opportunity to educate concerned citizens, and to offer a friendly, knowledgeable and understanding ear.

  • Introduce yourself and identify the company or department you work for. Offer to show a company ID or business card. Be clear, confident and respectful.
  • State the facts and be clear on your objectives. Explain what you’re doing and why it’s necessary. Talk about the expertise of the team performing the applications, and if the opportunity arises, mention the environmental benefits of IVM as opposed to a mowing-only VM strategy.
  • Acknowledge questions or concerns politely. Give the answer if you have it and promise to get back with the homeowner if you don’t. Make a good last impression by leaving contact information for yourself, a crew chief, or other supervisor or manager. 

In the Office

As the VM expert within your organization, you’re in a unique position to help “spread the word” about IVM and the benefits it offers, even when you’re not in the field. How?

  • Work with your employer’s communications or public affairs group to develop IVM-specific language. Offer to help the people within your organization who are responsible for communicating with the public by assisting with the development of IVM-specific language for use in annual reports, environmental statements or other public-facing messages.
  • Offer to be interviewed by local or trade journalists. Is treatment season about to begin in your part of the country? Work with your communications or public affairs group to arrange an interview with a local print or broadcast journalist; these media outlets are frequently in need of local content, and may respond well to a pitch for a story detailing the environmental benefits of IVM. Similarly, trade publications and websites are often looking for relevant content from industry professionals; reach out and offer to serve as a source or provide background for any upcoming vegetation management stories that may be in the works.
  • Get active. Industry groups like the Utility Arborist Association and the National Roadside Vegetation Management Association play a critical role in bringing VM professionals together to share success stories. Become a member, stay current, and volunteer to speak or lead workshops on topics relevant to your experience.

Alongside the numerous environmental and economic benefits IVM offers, a sound IVM program can help polish your employer’s reputation as a concerned, responsible member of the community it serves. Whether one-on-one, through the media, or at industry events, take every opportunity to deliver that message, and work with the communications professionals within your organization to create opportunities when and where it’s appropriate to do so.

Looking for information you can use to help promote the benefits of IVM? Need to help bring new employees up to speed on application safety or landowner communications? Visit for IVM success stories, digital training modules and more.


Connect with Vegetation Management:



Find Your Local VM Specialist


For over 30 years, Vistas® has covered strategies, trends and stories from across the Vegetation Management industry.

Explore Vistas®

Subscribe to Vistas®