All posts tagged Community and Stakeholder Engagement

It’s a celebrity… get ME outta here!

When it comes to reality TV, celebrities sell. But when it comes to facilitation, sticking a celebrity out front won’t fool ‘em. And you might pay dearly for the mistake.

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Five things every community engagement person should stop doing

Every day and in every industry we are continually adding ideas or processes. But so often we forget to delete.

When we review or audit community and stakeholder engagement within organisations, we see how passionate our engagement colleagues are. Their passion for engagement means we’re adding innovations and improvements every day.

But what should we be deleting from our engagement practice?

  1. Outdated processes – legislation is being updated every year in different sectors and states. If your engagement policy or framework was completed more than 5 years ago, it may need updating. Since then, we’ve seen new legislation, policies and standards introduced at the national level, as well as the state level in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
  2. Newspaper notices – unless it’s required by legacy legislation, a newspaper notice is simply not enough to attract community attention. Very few people read newspapers and even fewer read the notices section.
  3. Burn out of great professionals – at the IAP2’s last engagement conference, I was moved to tears by tales of great engagement professionals who felt burnt out and traumatised by having to work with daily angry, aggressive or bullying behaviours. We need to make sure our colleagues are supported and encouraged on those tough projects.
  4. Jargon – yes, even engagement people can over-use jargon. So if you find you’re spending too much time talking about scope, deliberative, collaborative partnerships, levels of engagement, the DPM, honeycomb profiles and more … then stop and translate to your project teams.
  5. Engaging solely on problems – if you’re only engaging when things are contentious or there’s a risk, then you need to stop. We could spend an entire blog talking about this, but in essence it causes (a) a failure to engage on topics that the whole community wants to engage on (b) an engagement capacity gap – where we unintentionally build the skills of those who always turn up, and diminish the engagement skills of those who don’t (c) we don’t ask the right questions of community (d) our innovation is focused on problems rather than opportunity (e) it can create a false sense of what community really thinks

If you’d like to keep up with the latest in engagement strategies, why not enrol in the Strategies for Complex Engagement course.

Why staff, stakeholders and community are better at innovation: 5 Insights

The development of new app that will streamline compliance processes costs and save millions to an energy organisation, creation of a centralised system to map capability to automate HR processes, financial commitment by disparate parties to create a regional ecosystem to drive innovation on the ground. In working across innovation, digital economies and smart city work across the country, here are 5 key insights.

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Good presentation skills require us to challenge our preconceptions

What are the elements that make for a good communicator, or conversely, a poor one? Why is it that some have the gift of presenting and some do not? How do presenters stand out when most follow a very similar formula?

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Project E

Here at Articulous we have been working on a very exciting start up project which promises to be a game-changer in the world of engagement and evaluation.

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Why an Ethical Approach to Engagement is Critical

Ethics in engagement is vital. We need ethics to keep the process open, honest, inclusive, far-reaching, respectful, fair, collaborative, and informative. Without ethics, people lose faith in the engagement process, they don’t trust it, they feel used, marginalised, unheard and irrelevant.

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Why exploring digital trends and applying intuition works

To be noticed in today’s avalanche of information, businesses need to engage an audience within seconds. This means cutting through by being intuitive, innovative and truly understanding the audience. Finding fast ways to communicate and using engaging content is essential. Digital strategies are now a big part of this.

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Could non-verbal expressions add value to an engagement campaign?

Communication is so much more than the spoken word. While many of us like to verbalise how we feel or think, it’s often the expressions that go with our words that add meaning. The question begs then, could we analyse only those expressions to gather rich and meaningful data?

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Consultation does not necessarily mean that the community gets what it wants.

There have been a few projects in the media of late where community groups have lamented a lack of consultation on projects prior to delivery. Many of these projects have centred on construction and development but a few have involved policy development in areas as diverse as energy, water supply and even the definition of marriage. However diverse the topics, one thing stood out as being in common.

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Facing the Music can build Community Trust

I recently had the pleasure of travelling throughout the Surat Basin in south west Queensland with a client of Articulous for a week, facilitating community information sessions. There were a few key lessons that I took away from that week that I thought were worth sharing, purely from a practical perspective.

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Does Online Community Engagement just mean having a Facebook page?

It can, but it doesn’t have to. There are heaps of tools, here are just some and how they’re being used.

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If You’re Not At The Dinner Table You Might Be On The Menu

In IAP2 and community engagement land there is a great saying that goes along the lines of; if you’re not at the dinner table you might be on the menu.

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How to Create an Engagement Strategy that’s not a Door Stopper

On complex projects, it's really tempting to create a door stopper of an engagement strategy. The kind that's so thick it probably rivals the length of the technical studies for the project you're engaging on.

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Community Engagement Definition of the Month: Engagedy

Some community engagement programs are easy to predict. They're relatively routine. But others suddenly turn from routine to tragedy.

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Community Engagement Definition of the Month: Entourengage

If your engagement entourage outnumbers the public at an event, you have officially sent an entourengage. We've all seen it. There's 12 of us - engagement specialists, a welcome team, back up comms people, plus specialists from every technical team - and no one comes.

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Getting from Enraged to Engaged

Putting out Community Engagement FiresDuring one of my hostile community engagement projects, a man in his 70s raised his hand to backhand me across the face. Good sense stopped him. But it was terrifying.

His hand was shaking, his face was red, and he could no longer contain the rage that was consuming him.

I had been brought in after 12 months of my client saying nothing to the community. And in the absence of information, there was rage. So how do you get from enraged to engaged? It requires, and not necessarily always in this order:

  1. A willingness to admit past mistakes. This is the first step in moving forward.

  2. The ability to cop the anger. Sometimes people need to vent. Sometimes, like my man in his 70s, they have a right to feel angry. And as engagement professionals, we need to provide that space.

  3. Understanding what people are really upset about it. Are they really upset about traffic and dust, or are they really angry because of a past event. It could be as simple as a letter that your organization has sent. It could be that you’ve failed to deliver on promises. Or it could be you are talking about things that are important to you, like jobs, rather than the things that are important to them, like the legacy of their land for future generations.

  4. Time. People need time to get through the anger so they can sit down and talk.

  5. Getting to the masses. On a recent project, it was obvious that the community outrage was in fact outrage from a very small number of people, who were also enraging other members of the community. If you’re going to do community engagement properly, you have a responsibility to involve more than just the loudest voices.

  6. Deciding what you’re willing to negotiate on. Tell the public specifically what you want their input on. A telltale sign of poor engagement is to simply ask for feedback under the banner “have your say” without any indication of the negotiables and non-negotiables.

  7. And finally, a willingness to embrace anger. Accept that where there’s anger, there’s passion. And when there’s passion you can get interest and involvement.

For some of us, that might require a mental shift. But it’s a mental shift that means you won’t resent the man in his 70s. You’ll understand. You won’t get angry yourself. And you’ll be more likely to find a way forward.  

Amanda Newbery is a licensed trainer for IAP2’s Emotion and Outrage in Public Participation Course.