Citizen engagement is as old as the idea of government itself. However, with the advent of real-time communication technology, citizen engagement has become so easy that it is now an expectation of the average citizen who assumes that their feedback will be not only heard, but responded to. This feedback is happening everywhere – online and offline, and if government organizations don’t start joining the conversation then the public’s judgment will be felt on election days.
However, if you’re ready to start a citizen engagement program, there are a few challenges to consider:
- Creating an Audience. Just because the government has a built-in audience of the public, doesn’t mean that you will inevitably reach them. Each citizen engagement plan should include an audience target and a plan to reach them through multiple channels.
- Participating in the Conversation. It is important to not only start and listen to the conversation, but to join in and show that you’re listening. That means asking for clarification, making sure the conversation is relevant, and responding to every single idea. And if you don’t have enough staff to dedicate to this task, you can deputize members of the community to help you do some of this work. That’s the beauty of crowdsourcing.
- Overcoming Skepticism. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as it’s a well-documented trend that public trust in the government has been in decline since the mid-1960s in America. But it’s not just in America – this is a global Thankfully, introducing a citizen engagement is one of the best ways to combat this trend as it offers an opportunity to rebuild that public faith.
- Delivering On Ideas. It’s as simple as this: if you’re not ready to act, then don’t ask. You don’t need to implement every idea, but you do need to be able to offer some sort of research, change, or insight as a result of their participation. Without a response, there is no reason to participate.
What are your thoughts?