10 Best Things to Consider When Creating Citizen Engagement Content

Great content can make or break your consultation process. It’s not good enough to print out a 300-page draft plan and leave it in the Council foyer for people to browse through. People need accessible and understandable content that is delivered in a range of easy-to-digest multimedia and multi-device forms.

Here are 10 key considerations when creating citizen engagement content.

  1. Websites are neither books nor Council reports. When preparing text for your website, write punchy copy that’s authentic, colourful and tells a story. Every word counts; too many words or difficult language and you’ll lose your audience.
  2. Cut your documents down into bite-size pieces that can be delivered online with a download or print option if relevant. Your community might not thank you for it, but they won’t complain either.
  3. If you’re consulting on a very large document, include both a short and long summary. Your community will be able to get the information they need without having to dig too deep.
  4. Make sure your documents are readable across different digital platforms including desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile screens.
  5. Use “FAQs” to answer issues about the consultation process and statutory obligations. You can afford to be more technical here.
  6. Videos are the single most effective medium for getting across complex ideas. Video can be used to explain the rationale of a proposed plan, to call participants to action, to bring up specific “hot” issues or give the community a voice via vox pop interviews.
  7. Slideshows are a great way to break down information into bite-sized chunks. Take the key messages from your summary document and put them in a slideshow with supporting images.
  8. Stimulate people’s imagination through image galleries containing relevant pictures including planned developments. This works when getting people to think about a project’s present, past or future potential.
  9. Make discussion topics as concrete and specific as possible. The majority of people will respond far better to specifics than to broad strategic questions.
  10. Embed new rich media content – videos, photos, infographics, maps – in a discussion forum. Make your information as readily available as possible.

Photos by via Pixabay.

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