Step 6: Tell people about it

Why do this

  • The public need to be aware that they have the opportunity to take part in a public engagement exercise.
  • Even if only a sample of the public are being approached, everyone should know that the activity is taking place and why – it will keep them in touch.
  • If members of the public are contacted by phone or asked to fill in a questionnaire, and they’ve already heard about it, they will have more confidence and motivation to take part.
  • In some cases participants will be involved in designing and carrying out the activity themselves so they will need as much information as possible.

Ask

  • Key Principles? 
  • Is it an activity for general or specific involvement?
  • Who do I need to tell?
  • What particular aspect of the results will they find particulary interesting?
  • What aspects of the results might need further explanation for the public to understand their significance?
  • How soon should they be informed?
  • How much time will they need to respond?
  • How much information do they need?
  • How do I get it to them?

For general public engagement activities that anyone can respond to:

  • Publicise it in your news items and periodicals
  • Get local press interest and coverage
  • Publicise it on your website
  • Remind them about the Key Principles
  • Make other staff aware and provided them with information to give to customers they may come in to contact with
  • Provide specific information for certain sections of the community
  • Make support groups aware they may be asked by their clients to assist

Ensure that participants know:

  • Why it is happening
  • Who is being engaged and why
  • About the process itself
  • What they will be expected to do
  • What decisions will be influenced
  • Who will take these decisions
  • When the decisions will be taken
  • How the results will be fed back to them
  • That anonymity will be respected if requested
  • Who they can contact

Remember

  • Put together a communications plan
  • Be prepared to field hostile questions, e.g. justify the cost of the activity
  • Use plain English and no jargon
  • Plan for how the views of different stakeholders groups will be ‘weighed up’ against each other
  • Give people plenty of time to respond (12 weeks minimum for written public engagements)