Issue #34 December 2017

Balfour Consulting would like to wish all our clients, associates, friends and colleagues a most enjoyable Christmas and a very rewarding 2018

The Basics of Community Engagement

Community engagement may involve some or all of social research, community consultation, community and organisational engagement, stakeholder management and communication programs.
We work to help clients listen and talk to communities by providing expert services in community consultation and public participation, facilitation of groups, meetings and events and strategic communications.
An exciting aspect of community engagement is the opportunity to reach out and engage with groups of people who traditionally do not engage in public. Likewise, the opportunity to engage with groups of people who are highly motivated and passionate about an issue or area - hearing their perspectives and working with them to build understanding to help create change - can also be very rewarding.
Effective community engagement and communication needs to be grounded on:

  • Determining before you start what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable; this decides whether you are informing or consulting with people
  • Understanding stakeholders, their needs and aspirations, and committing to being part of an authentic dialogue
  • Being open, honest and transparent in all communications and in the way issues, questions and concerns are managed
  • Communicating in a language that is easy to understand
  • Using techniques and approaches that are appropriate for the audience
  • Resisting the temptation to ‘sell’ the project and message. 

Today, online engagement and increasingly social media such as Facebook and twitter, are providing new media for engaging with the community, especially young people.
Using other technologies, such as interactive voting technology, has also brought a new rigour and dimension to community engagement, providing robust and transparent outcomes. 
 So, you should feel comfortable asking for your community engagement to deliver stakeholder buy-in, effective ongoing communications and tangible, targeted outcomes.

Our recent projects include:

  • Providing customer satisfaction and market research services to a healthcare organisation that delivers training services to General Practice across New South Wales.
  • Providing community consultation services to support major building and construction projects in North Queensland.
  • Developing a regionally focused RV strategy for a North Queensland Council.
  • Undertaking community consultation, site selection and analysis to identify suitable RV sites for a Council in south-east Queensland.
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