Your organization and community are constantly changing. And because of that, public engagement is critical—you need to share information while also seeking feedback on anything from a proposed street project to a new community program. To make it easier to keep the lines of communication open, try these tips—along with some thank-you giveaways—that will help ensure your citizens are getting the information they need.
Survey your citizens
Citizen surveys can be a powerful method for gathering feedback that you can put into action. To make the most of this valuable data:
- Explain the impact: Help stakeholders and citizens understand that the information provided should be used to make positive changes.
- Take steps to get a representative sample: Keep surveys short. This encourages people from all walks of life to participate. You might also consider hiring a surveying firm to ensure diverse representation.
- Ensure the results create conversation and change: Once the results are in, communicate them to your residents and discuss how the results will help bring about change.
Provide a thank-you giveaway to those participating in the survey. Offer a pen for in-person surveys. If your survey is online, try mailable themed gifts, like a bookmark for answering questions about an upcoming library renovation. Or send a seeded postcard when discussing community gardens.
Keep it interesting
Serving as a go-to source of information is just one way to ensure citizens are keeping up with your social media posts, emails and text messages. It’s also important to:
- Create visual information: Graphs, charts and interesting photos get more engagement on social media. And they’re easy to share.
- Talk to citizens: When someone asks a question or offers a comment, be sure to provide answers and thank them for engaging.
- Take advantage of hashtags: Social media hashtags can be a great way to discover what your community is discussing.
- Use multiple channels: If you need to catch the attention of different groups, you can turn a useful graphic into a postcard—or share time-sensitive information via text message, social media and phone calls.
Make it easy to interact
Of course, engagement isn’t just about what you need from citizens—it’s about what citizens need from you. Make it easy for citizens to get in touch by:
- Answering questions on your social media pages
- Providing a link to your contact form on every page of your website
- Including a link to data or surveys citizens need so they can make informed decisions and comments
You can also encourage people to share more comments, ideas and opinions by offering a thank-you giveaway. For example, if you pose a question about a construction project, conduct a prize drawing for those who take time to comment. A T-shirt or blanket makes a great prize.
Get your citizens engaged
Encouraging public engagement gives you the opportunity to learn how to better take care of your citizens’ needs. And that’s a win-win.