Is it really two-way communication? Listen, feed back and move forward together.
We talk a lot about public engagement being, in essence, about two-way communication. But is there a genuine to and fro of contribued ideas, shared experiences and imparted knowledge? Are you really taking on board what those involved have to say? And, if so, are you responding? It means more than just giving people a channel to input.
You may have set up the mechanisms and opportunities for people to contribute or collaborate, but these need to be part of a bigger communication cycle rather than an end point. Whether it’s about moving things forward or feeding back on why something isn’t feasible, it’s important show that participants voices are heard and their input is valued. You might be the expert in your field, but everyone you involve is an expert in their own way.
Beyond their actual input, whatever that might look like, keep participants in the loop as your project or work progresses. There might or might not be further options for them to influence or be involved, but, in either case, it shows that you respect the time they’ve invested and their contribution.
Effective public engagement is about fostering a positive working relationship, building trust and giving participants confidence in you and the process. Show them that you really do see them as a partner in what you want to achieve.
To find out more, read our new book: Public Engagement Made Easy.
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