Making the transition to digital public engagement is not a simple journey but it doesn't have to be as hard as it seems. In fact, the platform can act as a very useful space to centralize inputs from both online and offline engagements. In this post, we'll show you how to do just that, as well as offer ideas on how to build bridges between online and offline engagement methods.

Centralising inputs

If you have data collected through an offline engagement method (such as names and comments from an in-person event), you can bulk import these inputs by simply using this Excel template and email it to us at support@citizenlab.co. For more information, we have written a detailed step-by-step guide over here.

Bridging the online and offline

Offline → Online

  • Events

    • Apart from importing the inputs you've gained from offline methods and digitising them onto the platform, you can also sync events and workshops by posting details of these events on to the platform. By posting details on digital platforms where people are most likely to be informed, they can also know about in-person events happening and not have to miss out.

    • Alternatively, you can also choose to live stream these meetings and events on platforms such as Zoom, Youtube or Facebook, and simply share the link so users can join in anywhere, anytime. This is important in making your platform inclusive as possible as people may have work responsibilities or long distances to travel.

    • You can also make use of transcription tools or captions within the platforms mentioned, which allows you to download transcripts of the meeting. This makes it easier you to review points made in discussions and also increase transparency.

Read our article here on how add events to your platform

  • Unique Invitation Codes

    • One way of including the harder-to-reach populations can also be by sending unique invitation codes to your residents via post or handouts during offline events. This can also be a very useful way of building traction to your platform by targeting and connecting relevant stakeholders to specific projects that are important to them.

    • Instead of starting from scratch, you can use an existing list of contacts from previous participation projects to launch your email invitation campaign. Knokke-Heist, a Belgian municipality, did this and a third of recipients went on to create an account.

  • Posters / Flyers

    • Another example of translating offline engagements into the online world, you can create and share a digital copy of posters/flyers that you may have printed, so that they can be shared and reproduced through other social media/communication platforms (e.g Facebook, Whatsapp, etc.) - at almost zero cost and effort!

Online → Offline

  • QR codes for registration on physical posters/banners

    • If you have a survey or poll that's happening online, you can still get people who haven't came onboard to the online platform by creating "portals" for them to easily hop in.

    • Putting scannable QR codes on physical posters or banners allows for people who become aware of the project through offline methods, to then continue engaging and participating online later on.

  • Publishing selected projects, proposals, initiatives on newspapers in a dedicated column

    • To make sure that community members who aren't registered online yet are included, you can start talking about ongoing projects and developments on the online platform on traditional offline platforms instead. For example, you could share selected high-profile projects on local newspapers in a dedicated column, which then helps create awareness and attract those still using traditional media channels.

Download our essential 'Practical Communications Kit' for you to refer to at anytime and to get inspired by case studies of how organisations just like yours succeeded.


Do you have any questions or need help? Don't hesitate to send a message to support@citizenlab.co!

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