It goes without saying that communication is at the heart of any engagement initiative, but it can often go wrong in many ways and it can be seemingly hard to get right - appearing to be more of an art than a science. In this article, we'll offer you both strategic and practical tips on how to find your own style and approach to engagement.

Communication for public engagement is built upon 3 key principles:

  1. Clarity - Making sure that any information you share is easy to understand and accessible to everyone

  2. Diversity - Ensuring a wider range of audience and engagement methods

  3. Continuity - Keeping users updated to build consistency and trust

These principles help guide your overall approach as you continue to experiment with which engagement methods work best for your community, and honing in on your own style and messaging when communicating with your community.

How does this translate in practical terms?

When it's time to get down to making that post or engaging with your community, we can extend the key principles mentioned above into these 3 categories to help check that you're communicating according to best practice.

  • Purpose

    • Share your vision for the platform or project and stick to a few key messages with clear calls to action

    • Why are you launching a platform/project? Why should users care? How can users contribute?

  • Audience - Tone / Style

    • Write and/or create with your audience in mind by empathising with their needs, interests and circumstances.

    • Having the right tone and style to the voice of your messaging helps with showing that you care and understand, as well as build a more closer bond with your community.

  • Context - Relevant

    • Be aware of what's going on in the community and take into account how your community is feeling or what's on their mind as you post. This can go a long way in showing sensitivity and proximity with your users, by showing that you're in touch with latest developments.

    • This is then reflected by adapting your communication to making it linked to current issues, choosing high-profile topics and choosing the right channels/platforms that user's are currently located at.

Breaking it down by parts

  • Visuals

    • For most out reach channels, the visuals (image, video) are the first thing users see. So make it stand out and easy to read because first impressions matter!

    • Make sure your visuals are consistent with the design and style of your organisation and platform's brand.

    • If you're sharing digital posters, ensure that they are informative and have references to main sources of information (website portal or platform).

  • Description

    • Make sure your captions and descriptions aren't too short that users are uninformed, or too long that it's tiring for users to read through. If not, it can be easy for your message to get buried by a sea of information that users have to deal with. Keep it short, sweet and simple.

    • In your descriptions, be transparent in communicating what is going on, simple in explaining why it's important, and clear in calling them to action now.

    • It all boils down to answering these 3 crucial questions : What? So What? Now What?

  • Timing the post

    • When you post is arguably just as important as what you post. A study on scheduling content - showing - how we can leverage on our human biology to maximise engagement recommends posting content that are more likely to cause emotional reactions in the morning, whilst sharing content that requires deep thinking be shared in the afternoon.

    • Additionally, if you're providing updates to users about changes or announcements on the platform, be mindful and considerate in the time you give them to take action and to form opinions/decisions.

  • Accessible Links

    • Ensure that when you are calling on users to click on a link that the link is hyperlinked (clickable).

    • To save on space, we also recommend using website called bit.ly which allows you to shorten your link - no more super long URLs! (On the free plan you can convert up to 1,000 links a month, which should be more than enough)

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.


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

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