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Build Your Public Involvement Roadmap by Asking 5 Simple Questions (Tip #1 in PI Toolbox)

Last month I shared the most important PI Tool is the power of connection. I also committed to sharing Public Involvement tips that will offer insight and suggestions to create and add to your Public Involvement toolbox.  Let's start with Tip #1!

CaptureToolbox Tip #1:

Develop a Marketing Plan:  In order to achieve your outreach goals you must have a plan. Use a marketing plan as a guide to build your public outreach roadmap, identify and analyze stakeholder groups, prepare your schedule and detail the tasks to be completed.

Did you know public outreach is really code for marketing?  I get it.  It's taboo to talk about mobilizing a marketing plan to garner public support for a public project.  Why is that?

Let's breakdown some myths:

Myth #1:  

Marketers spin a web of lies to persuade and convince others to buy a service or a product.

Myth #2:  

Marketing is a form of manipulation.

Why Those Myths are Wrong:

Marketers raise awareness by sharing stories.  Skilled marketers embrace the idea that marketing is the art of offering a promise and delivering value.  They understand marketing is complex and to practice you must understand the dimensions of people.  Who are you targeting?  How will you connect to be heard? What messages will resonate?        

Public involvement is meant to involve and invest the public in a particular project.  In order to do so, you must have a plan.

Let's start with developing a marketing plan.  Use these questions to formulate your outreach plan:

  1. Define your project purpose. Why are you doing this project?  What do you hope to achieve?

  2. Identify your target audiences (stakeholders). What is important to these stakeholders?  Where do they work and spend social time?

  3. Develop methods for reaching your audiences (stakeholders).  How will they hear your message? What do they read? Television, radio, print news, social media, billboards?

  4. Create your value proposition. What is different about this project?  Why should your stakeholders care?  What are the benefits?

  5. Define your messages.  Be succinct and convincing. Always be prepared to answer the question - why.  Why is this project necessary?  Why now?

Once you have answered these questions, begin forming goals and objectives.  Be sure to make your goals achievable and measurable.  With goals in place, add your schedule starting backwards with the deadlines identified.  Tasks, tactics and tools will fall out naturally once you have your foundation set.

Caution! Your outreach plan shouldn't just be a checklist.  Remember, stakeholder feedback may alter the most prepared plan.  In fact, you want the stakeholder feedback to alter the plan.  Feedback is the ultimate goal, so prepare a plan as your roadmap, but keep the plan fluid enough to make changes as you collect feedback.

I’m interested to hear what you think. You can reach me at or on LinkedIN.

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Topics: Transportation & Public Works, Public Involvement

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