Public outreach is an essential pillar of any project, no matter the department or field, as clear and effective communication will determine how successful the project is, and the public’s perception of future endeavors. Anything that can affect the flow of daily life, should first undergo the important step of informing, and engaging that community long before a single dollar is spent. But the landscape of public outreach has undergone a complete transformation, not only in the past 10 years with the proliferation of social media, but since the start of the pandemic as many community members were forced to expand their media literacy.
Some aspects of well-rounded and clear communication remain the same as they always have, like starting early, using persistent techniques to reach as many people as possible, and formatting your information clearly and concisely. But with so many changes to the field of public outreach, a revaluation of the tools at your disposal and their strengths and weaknesses is necessary before embarking on a large-scale project. After all, honing your tools in the preparation stage will ensure your communication will run more smoothly when the project becomes busy.
A well-rounded outreach toolbox absolutely needs some social media platforms at its disposal. It may seem daunting at first to tackle the complex social media world, as many people worry about missing a niche of the internet they could use. But overlooking a certain app or platform is not the Achilles heel you may first believe it to be. Not using your current platforms correctly is a larger obstacle than expanding to a new platform. It is far easier to transfer the skills you master from one platform to another, than to attempt to manage half a dozen platforms without fully understanding them.
When conducting outreach or communications operations on social media, it’s critical to understand how the various algorithms function. Your message must be strategically presented on platforms like Facebook in order to get eyes on it. With Facebook especially, it may seem like a one and done operation, posting on your timeline, but the algorithm must be taken into consideration. Facebook does not function like a bulletin board, where anyone who sees the board can see everything on it. Instead, the algorithm is the distributor and curator of the information, picking and choosing which posts to share with which people, to extract the biggest reaction and response. Algorithms like this can make it difficult to have people see your long form explanations, so it is imperative to manage your posting and sharing in a way that uses the algorithm to its strengths.
While the internet has changed the landscape of outreach and communications, that landscape was put on an intense test during the pandemic, as most daily functions were put on a virtual meeting platform. These virtual platforms proved to be another useful tool, especially when working with long distance agencies or individuals. However, as we pass the 2-year anniversary of the first US lockdowns, the strength of in person outreach cannot be overstated as many people feel Zoom Fatigue after hours of virtual meetings and calls.
Community connections that have been strained over the past 2 years because of the Pandemic are best revived through old fashioned, boots on the ground, in person outreach. A community strained by digitally forced disconnection must be rebuilt in person in order to succeed in both the long and short term. Canvassing in person and giving your project or department a face and name to associate with is the best way to guarantee strengthened community connections and communications.
“People are yearning for the interpersonal connection and engagement. They want to have the conversations about what is happening in their cities and towns, and they want to be a part of the decisions that will impact not only their futures, but the futures of generations to come. By using a layered communications approach our team is making great strides in sharing information and bringing stakeholders together to build stronger communities,” said Nichol Figueiredo, CEO of Capital Strategic Solutions, LLC.
Public outreach has changed so much over the past few years that to do it effectively requires a multi-pronged approach that uses social media to its strengths and builds community trust with in-person outreach. In our experience, using all your tools effectively, rather than relying solely on one, sets your project up for success.
At Capital Strategic Solutions, our team is well versed in all forms of outreach and can provide the extra hands to assist with a variety of projects big and small. Our team has experience in outreach for infrastructure and grant projects, as well as operating hotlines that educate the public on ongoing community issues while addressing their questions and concerns. We are here to help your community through thick and thin, whether it be for a spring cleaning of your public media outreach, or larger hands-on project canvassing across neighborhoods and businesses. We work to find creative solutions and increase transparency and clarity.
If you have questions about outreach or would like to contact us with a specific project in mind, email us at info@Capital-Strategic-Solutions.com or call us at 508-690-0046.