Over the past 20 years, working from a range of vantage points in the built environment has given me first-hand experience of the benefits of effective community engagement – and how by failing to listen to the voices of their audience, many organisations are missing an important trick.
Consulting an audience of end-users about their interests, views and needs at an early stage in a project – when there’s real opportunity for people to get involved and have their say – may sound like an obvious process, but too often it gets overlooked.
Today’s organisations need multiple ways for end-users to engage, contribute and offer their feedback and suggestions on an ongoing basis
In recent years I’ve seen how social media and digital technologies have transformed opportunities for stakeholder engagement, offering new ways to reach those who, for example, wouldn’t typically respond to a public consultation. Today’s organisations need multiple ways for end-users to engage, contribute and offer their feedback and suggestions on an ongoing basis. Simply setting up a customer service channel through which people can complain is no longer enough.
Good stakeholder comms is ultimately about listening – it’s about building meaningful relationships with real people, and it can help businesses and investors from all industries get to the root of what their communities really want. And since brands and reputations are built – or damaged – with each encounter, the more we can proactively and positively engage with our audience, the more ownership and buy-in we’ll receive from them in return.
Successful community engagement helps:
- new and existing audiences to be consulted on important topics
- build ongoing stakeholder dialogue and relationships
- demonstrate the transparency of a project or organisation
- important updates to be shared on both sides
- document community questions, comments and complaints in a measurable way
I recently shared my take on the importance of community engagement and the role technology can play in an interview with SitePodium, a construction industry app that enables effective two-way conversations between the development industry and local communities.