Listening Post Collective MENU
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Engage

Now it’s time to get back out into the neighborhood and ask your questions. Get creative, get offline, and make sure people have a way not only to answer your questions, but also to let you know how best to get back in touch with them. SMS is ideal.

Tactics

  • Revisit your survey and walking notes. What stands out? Who do people trust to deliver information? Where do people go to share or receive local information, offline as well as online? Use these findings to establish your outreach methods.
  • Pick outreach methods (PDF ↓). We recommend a mix of face-to-face opportunities, online outreach and mobile messaging. Check out our Listening Post activities list (PDF ↓) for some other ideas.
  • Develop partners in the community to help you promote the project and bring your questions to their networks.
  • Create a rolodex. Make sure you build in a way to stay in touch with participants in your project. Your surveys and ground research gave you a nice head start on gathering some contact data for community members. Create a system for organizing your contacts and make sure you update it as more people join.
  • Follow up with especially active participants, get a coffee with them, and establish their interest in being an ongoing source. They can help you expand your project and alert you to important things happening in the community.
  • Be patient. Community engagement doesn’t happen overnight—it takes relationship building, trust, consistency, and time. Not everything is going to work, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new ways to connect with your community. 

In Action

Engage

Macon

Meeting people where they are is a crucial part of good engagement. One way to do that is partner with established and trusted community groups. The Listening Post project in Macon, Georgia was looking to grow participation in its community media initiative. It decided to team up with one of the city’s most beloved annual civic events, April’s Magnolia Soap Box Derby, and pitch a mutually beneficial engagement collaboration.

Thousands of locals come to see fellow residents race homespun cars. The Listening Post project wanted to tap into that audience, so they offered event organizers the opportunity to use a cell phone based platform to facilitate voting via text message for the Best in Show prize. As Derby goers voted via their phones, they also received a text message asking them for their feedback on the event. The Listening Post Macon team shared that valuable information with the Derby organizers. Participants then received a short text description of the Listening Post and were asked if they would like to participate in the ongoing project. 400 new participants joined via the Soap Box Derby event, and stayed part of the project, giving them access to conversations on topics ranging from education to gun control.

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