Do you have a public engagement plan ready to be put into action? In the first part of this blog series, we covered some valuable steps to remember when planning your virtual public involvement. Now, let’s talk about the engagement phase!
Our Virtual Public Involvement Checklist for Success asks the right questions to ensure you know exactly what your team defines as successful public engagement. Often, it‘s measured in how diverse your participation is. This means gathering input from even the most difficult-to-reach audiences, zip codes representative of the area and data that tells a story. Continue reading as we discuss the best ways to get there…
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The Engagement Phase
1. Create a Promotional Plan
What can we leverage or need to avoid? Are there any elections, holidays or events we need to be aware of?
Decide which resources you can use to help promote participation. There are plenty of different ways to get started with your public engagement:
- Creating a project website or landing page is helpful to house information, announcements and results
- Take advantage of social media platforms and reach out to local media to promote your project survey
- QR codes are beneficial for print media so people can access the survey quickly and efficiently
Research which platforms are popular among your target audience and try to gain their attention by using current trends. Short-form videos have only gotten more popular as a means of spreading awareness; use that to your advantage!
Create messaging that will resonate with community members while keeping in mind that different groups may have different priorities.
2. Leverage Partnerships
What partnerships can help get the word out? How can we support them?
Consider who your community trusts and values. Additionally, getting help from a second party to endorse your project is a great way to spread a hand to community members, especially if you needed help connecting with them in the past.
Empower your partnerships to shape a call-to-action that will resonate with people in your community. Everyone is willing to spread the word on an important community project if you make it as easy as possible to spread the word. And this way, you can ensure consistent messaging and branding across the board. Create a toolkit with pre-written copy and pre-made graphics for social media and other means of communication!
3. Monitor & Retarget
Are we receiving the desired level of participation? Are there geographical or demographic gaps in participation? Should we extend the engagement period or budget to meet our goals?
Knowing your goals before starting your outreach is important so you know exactly what you should prioritize. Do what’s best for the project to get the most diverse results possible. As we mentioned in the first part of this blog series, it’s best to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. This means being aware of the range of results you would like to see and which communities you need to hear from. Moreover, there are a few barriers to targeting under-represented audiences, so think of the advertising that needs to be done to reach them. Maximize your public engagement by reaching people virtually and physically.
Read our Virtual Public Involvement Checklist for Success, vetted by experts from 30+ DOTs and MPOs!
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