Hall of Fame Business Solutions

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Taking Community Engagement to the Next Level

I have been wanting to write a blog about community engagement for some time now as I am currently studying to achieve a certificate through iap2 Australasia in this relatively new discipline and am loving the interactivity and real life case studies that we are using in our learning programs. There are so many parallels to the marketing and communications disciplines which is why I think I find it so rewarding.

Firstly, what is community engagement? As marketers we now manage two-way communication for our clients and stakeholders, isn’t this community engagement? Yes, to some extent, but having a framework and tools to plan, develop methods and designs to identify and scope projects helps practitioners to hone their skills and create better processes and outcomes for their employers or own businesses.

There are many definitions of community engagement, but my favourite was articulated by the Financial Times (ft.com/lexicon) “Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community groups to address issues that impact the well-being of those groups.  Activities that help firms engage the community include credible and transparent reporting, town hall meetings and collaborative decision-making.

Firms that most proactively engage the community often find efficiencies in pushing forward with new projects because they have secured the social license to operate. They often develop the most innovative products and processes because of the need to balance sometimes conflicting points of view, forcing them to think outside the box for new solutions.

However, such community engagement activities often take considerable firms’ resources and time, but there is widespread agreement for most firms involved in community engagement that such efforts are highly rewarded.

Some projects range from the large, such as site locations and environmental impact assessments, to the seemingly inconsequential, such as supporting local schools and financing youth sports teams, that contributes to a “social license to operate.”

One of the big questions that has come up in my training is the definition of ‘community’. This term can be and is often used interchangeably with the term stakeholder. So if your business is listening to its community (stakeholders) and involving them in formation of project strategies using their feedback and input for the decision making process at a range of levels, then you are technically using community engagement.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the staff at my newest client’s premises, Bubble & Squeak Pet Grooming and Treats in Castlemaine. What a great team! I met and interviewed the staff and owners, interacted with some of the pets and customers. Was this community engagement at a new level? It was for me, and a very enjoyable experience.

If your business has any communication or community engagement needs, contact Hall of Fame Marketing Bendigo.

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