OCT 28, 2013

5 tips for more successful community engagement

Community engagement is all about developing (and maintaining!) successful working relationships with community groups. It’s about opening up a dialogue with your neighbours so that you can identify their needs, understand their concerns and address any problems.

And in terms of securing a sustainable planning agreement, engagement has never been so important.

So let’s look at 5 great ways to have a positive impact and better engage your community.

1.       Engage with local groups

What groups already exist in your community – and how can you reach out to them?

What better way to start your engagement by finding out what’s already out there and arranging to speak with them?

They’ll appreciate the fact that you sought them out and approached them, and their existing connections can be invaluable when it comes to getting your voice heard and your message across.

2.       Organise for accessibility

Are you trying to engage with a younger or an older audience? Will they be working during the day or will they be free? Will they have prior commitments that mean they’re unable to attend?

You need to understand your community and organise an activity at a time when they’re most likely able to attend and in a suitable location (i.e. a regular meet-up location, or a place that’s not too far away).

3.       Be visual

Don’t rely on the written word to get your message across. Images are powerful tools – so make sure you include them.

They’re a great way to show your community what your exact intentions are, but they’re also vital when it comes to having an emotional impact. And if you aren’t able to appeal to your community’s emotions, you won’t be successful.

4.       Keep the lines of communication open

Organising a meeting is one thing. Facilitating discussion is another.

Be aware that some members of your community may feel uncomfortable airing their views publicly, so it’s important that you allow them to contact you in other ways.

Make sure that you have an email address and a telephone line available, and promote these heavily both before and after your event.

5.       Pass on feedback

How has your thinking changed? What issues do you feel may need further research? Is there anything that might need further explanation?

These are all things that you’ll find out though community engagement. They’re so important to know – but it’s important that you also let your community know.

They’ll be keen to learn what you gained from the experience and how their opinions may have influenced thinking.

Created on 28th October 2013
Back to list