Public Involvement Techniques
4.D - Taking Initial Action Steps
In an era of many distractions and competing interests, agencies
need more varied and effective ways to grab the publics attention
and engage them meaningfully in planning activities. Here are some
steps agencies can take to use special techniques:
- Evaluate whether special techniques are needed and why.
Perform a self-evaluation of the agencys public involvement
efforts to determine if a representative cross-section of the
community is responding and being heard. Decide if special techniques
are necessary to increase participation or meet a need not being
addressed by standard methods. Keep in mind the overall strategy
of the public involvement program.
- Determine which special techniques are appropriate.
Define the specific purpose to be achieved. Explore the array
of techniques available to determine which one fulfills that purpose
for the intended audience. Assess the interest it might arouse.
Seek the advice of participants who are already knowledgeable
about agency proposals. Survey a sample of community people or
hold a focus group to flesh out their reactions. If interactive
technologies are being considered, assess whether the intended
audience is likely to be put off or drawn in by them.
- Assure the necessary funding.
Budget staff time, equipment, supplies, and other monetary costs—even
the smallest events incur them. Determine if they can be met within
existing budgets. For larger ventures where private funding assistance
is needed, develop a cost proposal for potential sponsors, carefully
explaining the event and projecting its anticipated benefits to
the community at large.
- Evaluate the approach with community advisors.
During early phases of planning a new venture, seek suggestions
from community members or key people. As the date for starting
a public involvement process draws near, solicit additional comments
on the details of the approach. After a venture is launched and
as a guide to future innovations, assess both its positive and
negative impacts with community advisors.
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