“Improving engagement” is a goal we’ve often heard from local government staff, yet many struggle to know how to go about making it happen. This issue was top of mind as we met with staff from coast to coast over the last year in preparation for the launch of our community engagement tool, visionPulse.
Our conversations uncovered a lot of great advice from agencies who have been there and know how to get it right:
- It takes time to build the engagement habit– Being asked to provide input to their local government via a website is often a new concept for residents. Reinforce that you’re listening and encourage residents to make a habit of engaging with your local agency by always having a poll or a question for your users to answer instead only soliciting their opinion a couple of times per year.
- Keep multiple topics available to continually engage your community– In order to encourage participation from the widest audience, you should always have several topics open for resident input. Ideally, these topics should cover a variety of departments and issues as you never know what may draw new participants in.
- Have fun with engagement- Not every engagement topic has to be a controversial or an in-depth issue. It's ok to have a little fun with lighter topics that can be regularly updated to pique interest and encourage a quick comment. One of our favorite ideas is "what would you do if you were mayor for a day?".
To help you follow this advice, we have developed a list of 24 "evergreen" engagement topics that are perpetually relevant that can be used as starter topics by local government organizations of all sizes. Think about the audiences that would be interested in each topic in order to draw the widest participation and start planting the seeds of engagement.