By Dan Pfeiffer, Director of Public Engagement, WSB
As many states across the country issue stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, our communities are still forging ahead behind the scenes with many infrastructure projects that are essential to our lives and economic health when we move beyond Covid-19. Many of these infrastructure projects rely on public engagement efforts to help guide decision-making and gain valuable feedback. Delaying project progress by canceling engagement activities is not an option when timelines and construction need to continue forward or when working in areas with shorter construction seasons.
There isn’t a one size fits all solution when determining ways to effectively engage with stakeholders. When typical engagement methods of in-person, small group and stakeholder relationships are not possible, staying connected to the public is still possible and effective.
Digital and Virtual Engagement Methods
Connecting with audiences virtually offers a more flexible audience who can engage where and when it’s convenient, but standing out amongst the noise and distractions can be challenging. It’s important to capture their attention right away since they are a mouse-click or new link away from not being engaged. Some effective tools include:
Engagement Methods When Barriers Exist
Barriers to participation in a digital environment exist. Access to internet, internet connection speed and computer literacy are all challenges that communities may face. When engagement is needed in communities that lack internet, cell service or other technology barriers, finding ways to connect with stakeholders requires some creativity. Some effective tools include:
Dan has more than ten years’ experience leading teams, as a team leader and operations assistant in the Army, and Minnesota Army National Guard and over eight years in public engagement. He has completed the International Association of Public Participation’s Foundations in Public Participation, the National Transit Institute’s Public Involvement in Transportation Decision-making courses.