It is always rewarding to complete a successful community outreach event that achieves strong participation and engagement from the community. It does, however, take meticulous preparation and a winning strategy.
Questions to explore in advance:
- What is the history of the City’s involvement in the neighborhood?
- How many projects have taken place recently or are currently taking place?
- How is this project going to interact with other projects?
- How has the City handled past projects in this community?
It’s essential to know this information and be prepared to discuss it.
Below are a few key factors that, when informed by background and context, lead to an outstanding community outreach event.
First things first, you need to figure out who to reach with your event. The obvious group would be those who live near the project, but other important groups to consider are:
- Local businesses
- Property owners
- Water users
- Park users
What time? When and where?
Hosting multiple events for each project is ideal. One on a weekend, one on a weekday evening, and one during the day to accommodate varying lifestyles and schedules. You must consider the circumstances of your priority audience. For example, an evening event on a weeknight is great for people who a work standard 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM job, but is of course challenging for those working nights, or those with young children. Also, keep in mind that the timing of your event is just as important as location.
Host your event at a location that is convenient and accessible. Make sure it is close to the project area and located within the priority audience community. If your project is spread throughout a large geographic area, consider multiple events conveniently located throughout each of the zones.
The last step is developing your outreach strategy to ensure your event is well attended. If you have a robust contact list, emails are an efficient and effective method to generate awareness. Other tactics include posting flyers throughout the community. Depending on the budget, digital advertising can also be leveraged. There are many ways to promote event; take your time and think about what will be effective for your audience.
Send people home with information to review. Prepare flyers, brochures, and fact sheets as needed. When developing the materials, make sure they are accessible and use simple language, graphic illustrations, and are transcreated into all relevant languages.
Be sure to tell the entire story of the project. Often community members are most interested in learning how they will be directly impacted. It is important to share the overall project purpose to give the community important context.
- Have a station explaining each component of the project
- Host an event at the project site and assign community members explain the why behind the project
- Give a formal presentation about the project
It seems obvious, but patience is essential when running an outreach event. Try to remain focused on the main goals – listening well, and properly educating and preparing the community.
A little tip: something as simple as a plate of baked goods from the favorite local bakery can mean a lot to the people you’re speaking with. This extra touch at your event shows that you value their community and their time.
Be sure to send a follow up email to all the people who attended. Thank them for coming and attach share digital versions of the event materials. To make sure people’s thoughts and concerns are heard and addressed, consider including answers to questions that came up at the event.
Want to learn more about our community outreach services? Shoot us an email at email@example.com.