The trick to building a useful community engagement strategy is not just about asking the right questions. It’s also about ensuring plenty of lead time so that the engagement plan neatly integrates with any project plans and communication plans that are also being developed for the project. It’s also important that all of these strategies are approved collectively, given the reliance that each has on the others.
The biggest limiting factors will be time and resources. Sometimes things have to happen quickly. Sometimes the necessary money and people time are also limited. But prioritisation can’t be done until there is a list of things that can be prioritised.
Here are a few questions that may be useful checklist for constructing a community engagement plan. There are probably some others that relate to special needs around the particularly project or set of circumstances that triggered the need for having an engagement strategy.
Start by clearly identifying:
- The issue and its objectives
- What success will look like
- What time constraints there may be
- What financial and people constraints there may be
- Any critical dates and times in the life of the plan
- Any related plans or strategies that need to be included or considered
- What barriers or hurdles there may be
- What behaviours may need to change
- Who the key participants are
- Who the target audiences are.
Doing this task is also a good opportunity for internal engagement within an organisation – particularly with senior managers and organisational governance bodies, but also across all of the various departments or project teams that will need to be involved in successful delivery. Commitment to success from everybody is essential.
Don’t rush this process. There’s an old saying about going slow to go fast. Murphy’s Law also warns about the things that haven’t been planned for being more likely to go wrong then those that have.
If additional expertise and resources to deliver a successful community engagement strategy are needed, then please give us a call. We can provide as much as you may need. If you just want an informal chat or somebody to bounce ideas off, we’re up for that too – possibly at no cost to you!