Installment #1 of the Effective Engagement Blog Series:
In this series, we will discuss the four elements of an effective engagement strategy (outreach, input, analysis, and feedback) and how practitioners may address the post-2020 resiliency and trust building challenges associated with the ongoing change in community expectations. In this installment we address inclusive outreach and how lowering barriers to engagement starts with understanding your community.
A willingness to listen is not the only ingredient needed for inclusivity. Understanding your audience and the environment are critical to lowering barriers and providing opportunities for education and engagement.
Public engagement strategies around policies, projects, and initiatives should seek to effectively inform the decision-making process using collected community insights and information. In this process of effective engagement, the inclusive and proactive work of outreach and education is critical to helping combat unexpected challenges that work to misalign community values from plans for the future.
The baseline understanding needed of a community to effectively begin the outreach and engagement process is extensive. The more you understand the better it will go! Let’s take a closer look at some practical ways intell can help make your outreach efforts more inclusive.
Before “engaging” can begin, every good public engagement strategy should start with a proactive effort that seeks to collect, organize, and analyze the issues and behaviors of the targeted community or project area.
This “social characterization” will help you develop an accurate picture of the area in the community most impacted by the anticipated decision-making. When you compile existing community insight with available data resources, like Census and local planning study data, you are able to establish a baseline understanding of a particular geographic area.
Establishing this baseline is critical to deploying a meaningful and sincere outreach strategy with the community.
Turning Insight into Action
The Public | CRM is a living dashboard that stores historical data over time and across projects. Designed to help governments move past data collection to actionable tactics, the Public | CRM module automatically synchronizes to develop a deeper understanding and segmentation after each interaction.
Inclusive outreach paves the way towards a mutual understanding between government and the community that is reliant on the management of expectations, development of trust, and the existence of transparency into government.
Before inclusive outreach can occur, governments must understand the context of the impacting policy, project, or initiative. This understanding involves evaluating the macro level trends and drivers impacting the state, local, and/or regional conditions.
A practical starting place for identifying these conditions may include using a PESTEL analysis to examine the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal conditions of a project area.
Understanding these conditions, trends, and drivers will be critical in developing relevant and effective outreach messaging.
Two-Way Communication Made Easy
The Public | Contact module makes outreach and engagement communications easy. Purpose built for governments with unlimited contacts, Public | Contact leverages the resource rich data of the Public | Engagement Hub to seamlessly open and close the communication loop between your agency and the community.
The most practical and straightforward use for compiling all of this data and understanding is stakeholder identification. This identification comprises both the understanding of who the stakeholders of a project area are and where they are physically located.
At this stage you are able to define your target population based on socio-economic and demographic characteristics. Refinement of the stakeholder groups (those who stand to be either positively or negatively impacted by project decision-making) will proactively illuminate potential equity and inclusion challenges and opportunities associated with the project.
Leveraging mapping technology, to overlay these characteristics will be critical to developing (and visualizing) the first iteration of an inclusive outreach strategy. Ideally, this outreach strategy will not only define a target population, but will include adaptations and accommodations for the geographic and demographic differences inherent in the project area.
Visualize Your Stakeholders
Learn how the Public | Equity Mapping feature helps visualize participant data overlaid with custom environmental and socio-economic data specific to your community or project area.
Opportunities for Equity & Inclusion
One of the most efficient ways to supercharge an effective outreach and engagement strategy is by leveraging technology that provides governments and public engagement practitioners with ways to reach beyond the usual voices and lowers the barriers to participation.
Unify Your Engagement
The Public | Engagement Hub powers a holistic set of solutions to help unify and supercharge the public input process. The Public | Engagement Hub includes three interconnected solutions;
- 1Public | Surveys is fully loaded with dozens of survey formats, visualizations, and publication ready result reports.
- 2Public | Comments makes comment coding a thing of the past by aggregating and transforming data into insight.
- 3Public | Meetings support virtual and/or in-person options from public notice to meeting minute automation and translation.
Want to learn more about how PublicInput can help your outreach efforts be more inclusive and equitable? Schedule a chat with one of our engagement experts today!