By Jesica Johnson Mackey
2020 is here, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to identify some New Year’s resolutions for your company or organization. If you need a suggestion, consider the ways you reach out to the community. In my previous work with state agencies, engaging with the public was a critical part of our communications strategy. At NP Strategy, we employ similar techniques when researching and engaging with key stakeholders. Whether you operate in a public or private sphere, these three tips will help you more effectively reach the public in 2020:
- Do more than the standard weekday, 5-7 pm meeting
Public involvement is a process, and it won’t be accomplished in a single event, postcard or meeting. When trying to connect with your community, think outside the box. Hosting one public meeting during the week to educate and receive feedback is a great start, but it is simply not enough. People have limited time after work, and it’s probably already filled with gym, afterschool sports, homework or church. Challenge your organization to do more than the status quo, and try hosting a public drop-in over lunch or on a Saturday morning. Follow them up with thank you cards to attendees and e-newsletters with additional information. Don’t stop there – make 2020 the year to get creative and enhance your public engagement efforts throughout your organization!
- Meet people where they are
This one is critical to building a relationship with your community members and educating them on issues. If you hold a scarcely attended event, it doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t care or lack interest. Considering people’s work schedules, family lives and social obligations when planning a meeting or event will increase attendance and participation. Challenge your organization to meet community members in their place of comfort, whether it’s a farmer’s market, sporting event, or even a shopping center kiosk. Delivering information to people where they are versus making them come to you can reduce the information barrier, and in return, create a receptive and informed community.
- Go digital
The best thing about digital communication is that it is a one-stop shop for people to ask questions and get informed about issues happening in their communities. With social media avenues getting bigger by the day, organizations should frequently look for ways to improve their strategy and adapt to new technology. Successful public engagement requires consistent and strategic information to be shared in “real-time” on websites, social media platforms, emails and videos. By sharing engaging, informative content, the public will feel more connected to your message and be more motivated to take action.
By following these three steps, your organization will create valuable relationships that will grow each and every year. Start the decade off right, and make improving public engagement a resolution your company keeps. Cheers to 2020!
Jesica Johnson Mackey is an experienced strategic communications professional working with government agencies, non-profits and public sector companies to deliver their message. She has built her career in South Carolina helping clients manage their social and political risks, improve their images, and gain public or political buy-in for their projects. Prior to joining NP Strategy, Jesica worked as a strategic communications consultant at a global engineering firm, advising public and private sector clients on communications strategies for large, complex projects.