Full Circle & Cycle Community Engagement
Establishing a simple two-part communications program is easier than you think;
here's how one community achieved it.
Unfortunately, it’s often felt that restructuring a department’s approach to communications can be expensive and time-consuming. Community engagement is not one-sided and is not a start and stop, project-by-project activity. Community engagement requires a continuous cycle of communications to and from residents.
Kent Waugh - Managing Partner
Transitioning from a start-and-stop approach to community engagement to a continuous feed model that over time builds capacity and delivers higher value public trust.
Involving the public and municipal staff in full-circle communications can be difficult, especially when it requires stepping away from an established approach to community outreach. Building public trust requires showing residents proof their participation was valued and that their involvement made a difference.
Residents are eager to be informed and involved in
their community's decision-making processes.
Tapping into this eagerness is a huge challenge for most municipalities,
However it's not an impossible one. Once it is understood that creating a full circle community engagement program provides far more significant benefits to a municipality than the required investment, the path is quite straight forward.
Tying Up Ends:
Choose two channels, one for outbound and one for inbound communications, then invite residents to join in to create a continuous community engagement cycle.
But how do we decide which two to select? While technology has given all of us more ways to communicate with the world around us, the downside for communications managers is the splintering of communications channels. A good example is how many individual channels there are within the social media realm today versus even five years ago.
Realistically assessing the channels based on singular reach, effectiveness, proactivity and ability to leverage other uses will more often than not point to two unique channels; email-based newsletters (e-newsletters built from public consultation) and online surveys (as part of a Community Engagement Research Panel).
Developing or enhancing existing e-newsletter programs through a centrally coordinated process can engage a larger percent of residents more effectively and generate greater awareness of municipal activities than any other form of communications today.
92% of online adults use email (Pew Research)
61% of online adults use email daily or more often
22% (approx.) of emails are opened upon arrival (Fluent in Inbox Report)
Full analytics enables you to see who has opened emails, which links were clicked on and how many times, showing reader engagement and the ability to deliver reminders to subscribers who have not opened the sent e-newsletter.
Email provides full control of delivery timing, provides highest rates of singular-focused readers, and addresses needs of all news reader archetypes
De-centralized expert-sourced subject matter curation with centralized design and delivery
Here’s an example case study: A small municipality developed a single e-newsletter program that consisted of updates from across City Hall. While the subject matter experts and article writing was decentralized the creation and deployment of the e-newsletter was managed centrally to ensure consistency and timeliness (sent the same day every month regardless of any individuals' schedules).
It took a little time to find the right subject matter experts in each department and figure out an editorial calendar and submission schedule. Most of the staff were excited to contribute and gave them a unique lens on how their departments programs impacted residents.
The e-newsletter provided residents and business owners updates on current projects, outcomes of recent open houses and council meetings, as well as general information on upcoming programs and activities.
The e-newsletter was also used to provide residents a strong sense of how their participation in planning activities (surveys, open houses, etc.) were used by the municipality in its decision making process.
Driving higher resident awareness, interest, engagement and ultimately, public trust.
Open government isn't about being open to social media-based criticism. It is about building community engagement capacity for ongoing two-way communications. In order to build public trust.
Pairing a public consultation-based E-Newsletter with a small Community Engagement Research Panel provides the outbound and inbound communications streams to deliver a full circle community engagement program generating high- value public trust.
Public Consultation E-Newsletter +
Community Engagement Research Panel =
High-Value Public Trust Community Engagement
Combining these two, easy to manage tools establishes a robust continuous community engagement cycle that will drive higher resident awareness, interest, engagement and ultimately, public trust.
In many cases, depending upon the municipality's FOIPPA and CASL notification requirements in place, you can leverage the same subscription database of residents for both outbound (e-newsletters) and inbound (invites to online surveys) information delivery.
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online surveys, e-newsletters and evaluations for Canadian municipalities.
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