From the Good Ideas File: 5 New Rules of Public Outreach that Works

Finding this article might have been the high point of my day.  I’ve harped a lot — in the book, in the discussion about the book currently going on at PlannersWeb, in pretty much every talk I’ve ever given — about how the ways that we have been doing public engagement…

Don’t work

Flame out fantastically

Hurt our communities and projects and staff and electeds and pretty much everyone


Generally suck on a magnitude of suckiness that is almost impossible to envision.


Sometimes I think that if you landed here from outer space and said,  “Geez, I want to completely screw up these places and make them incapable of dealing with anything, but I don’t want them to know it….”

You would probably come up with a system a hell of a lot like what we typically use.


So I was delighted to stumble across this article, which sums up better than anything I have seen the fundamentals of what we’re doing so wrong and the fundamentals of what we need to do right.

How much more clear can you get than this?

Old Rule: Hold a Meeting

1. New Rule: Go to their Meeting.  Let’s say you want to inform and educate a public about your project. It used to be you could set up a series of meetings and be sure to get a cross-section of stakeholders to attend. No more….


Old Rule: Use TV, Radio, Newspaper for Media Outreach

2. New Rule: Use the media your constituency uses.  ….It’s worth your time to research how your constituency is consuming their information and using it. Could be blogs, or billboards; apps or hyperlocal print newsletters; email or text. Research the how so you can get them the what.


Old Rule: Tell them what you want them to hear

3. New Rule: Engage your constituency.  People don’t really want to be talked at anymore. We want to be asked a question, and respond. We want to be shown visual choices and make a decision, which is better…..
Old Rule: Reach out three times, and you’re done

4. New Rule: Communication is a flow.  The beauty of all the media at our disposal now is we can make communication with stakeholders a flow rather than fits and starts….


Old Rule: English language

5. New Rule: Translate, please.   …. That’s a given in today’s multicultural world.


Go read the rest of the article.  And then go do it.  Nuff said.


Go read the article — and share it to everyone you can think of.  Thanks.


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