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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make sure your documents are readable across different digital platforms including desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile screens.
- Use “FAQs” to answer issues about the consultation process and statutory obligations. You can afford to be more technical here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make discussion topics as concrete and specific as possible. The majority of people will respond far better to specifics than to broad strategic questions.
- 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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