Oshkosh, Wisconsin implements a game-changing communication strategy to reach more residents from a wider demographic.
Leaders from Oshkosh, Wisconsin have been working hard for a long time to engage their residents. But, no matter their efforts, they kept noticing a decline in attendance at in-person meetings.
So, in 2019, Oshkosh tried a new way to collect community member input through Polco, an online civic engagement platform that uses surveys and polls to get feedback from residents.
“While in-person public engagement will never be replaced, we believe that Polco has been a game-changer in reaching more people from a wider demographic,” said Emily Springstroh, Oshkosh Communications Coordinator.
Oshkosh has found that online polling complements in-person engagement well. Different engagement methods reach different demographics.
“Oshkosh’s engagement strategy has been so successful because it strategically focuses on reaching many different types of people,” said Nick Mastronardi, founder and CEO of Polco.
For example, the first online poll Oshkosh published asked residents their opinions on what to do with recently-purchased lakeshore property. In addition to online polls, Oshkosh also held in-person meetings. The online poll reached more people than the in-person meeting and engaged a younger demographic.
Reaching More People
This first use of online polling was successful enough that more and more city departments and community members started to embrace online engagement.
Oshkosh also used online polling to ask residents about their preferred communications methods. Half noted that social media is their preferred method. This encourages Oshkosh to lean on online tools even more.
“Polco has become a part of Oshkosh’s public input and citizen engagement process.” Springstroh said. “It has been well-received and embraced by the City departments that utilize it.”
Looking Towards the Future
As Oshkosh looks into the future, City leaders will continue to use a variety of outreach methods to improve community engagement. Oshkosh’s leaders are currently thinking about how different communication tools they use can integrate even more seamlessly.
“We aren’t done looking for new and useful ways to communicate, and we never will be,” Springstroh said.