Many local governments struggle to start or maintain relationships with their residents. These jurisdictions are looking for the best ways to take advantage of modern tools for engagement. The truth is most people communicate online, so it’s no longer enough to simply reach out to residents in person. Community leaders need to establish a robust online presence as well.
This Coffee Break Webinar features Bang the Table Co-Founder and CEO Matthew Crozier. Bang the Table connects local governments with the people they represent to increase public participation online. Before starting Bang the Table 10 years ago, Crozier worked in government organizations in the UK and Australia, while also running his own stakeholder relationship business. Now he helps local governments engage residents digitally. Crozier describes the best methods for continuous engagement with your community.
After the Survey
Administering and gathering data from your citizen survey is an important point of engagement, indicating residents’ satisfaction in their local government’s performance and key issues to the community. To build upon that good will you will need to find a way to connect with residents all year long.
Why Would We Do This?
Reaching out is important. It can be difficult to be motivated to seek out more voices when those that volunteer themselves are often the most polarizing in a community. However, when reaching out it is common to find more moderate and considered opinions that help reflect the larger community sentiment.
The community knows what needs improvement, and having its buy-in from the start of any given project will save time and money. Conversely, if the public only hears about a project at a decision making phase, the project may stall or reset due to public opposition.
True online engagement creates a space for small engagements that builds a connection with the public. As these connections build, the online space becomes more valuable and the engagement often increases at public meetings as more residents find value in the interactions.
Additionally, trust is increased with engagement. The public has more trust in their government as they become more informed through the process of engagement.
Adopting a Platform
Rather than engaging the public on a project by project basis, focus on an online platform that can be used across multiple projects and that everyone (staff and public) can connect. You will have the control to curate or moderate within the community as needed and you can easily measure the growth of your community panel. Placing project reports in a similar hub will facilitate consistent reporting and comparison. Another benefit of adopting an organization-wide platform is the efficiency of time and cost associated with consistency and familiarity (training, reporting, etc.). Plus, the level of discourse tends to improve as the community builds the value of the platform with ever increasing engagement.
Necessary Platform Features
You need to accommodate your entire organization when choosing your platforms features.
Multiple engagement tools that can be deployed depending on project needs.
Information sharing capacity.
Participant management features that allow you to sort and reach out to interest groups and target demographics.