K.I.S.S. has always been a good strategy. So, I’ve kept to only a few and important topics on how to keep your participatory budgeting communication top notch.
It stands for Keep It Short and Simple. There are other variations but you can google them.
1) Be clear and concise
Don’t write novels or talk like in a ‘state of the union’ speech.
Your citizens will appreciate listening to strong, pure and vibrant words from you. But also your skill to be brief.
Use empowering words and inspiring statements, not a bedtime story.
2) Be open and transparent, both with good and bad things
With transparency comes trust.
So, speak gratefully about the positive moments, but also embrace the negative as learning.
Recognition comes to those that learn and don’t have an ‘all mighty’ posture.
3) Listen… that’s what makes communication, otherwise is a monologue
Effective communication’s based on a Pareto kind of rule. You talk 20 and listen 80.
Even if the numbers are balanced at 50-50, your citizens will get the feeling that you talked the all-time. That you weren’t listening.
Also, the more you talk, the more chances there are to say things you don’t want.
4) Use every channel you manage, web, email, SMS, apps, blogs, social media, printed press, posters
Communicating is a transaction between two or more persons through a medium.
You hope there is someone on the other side of the medium, but sometimes there isn’t. You have a big citizens’ contact database, but it outdated. You’re speaking at a public event, but the public doesn’t understand the language you are speaking.
So, use every channel you can get your hands on to communicate. But remember to adapt the message. A blog post doesn’t have the same effect on Facebook or Twitter.
Increase your odds of success, but make them all consistent with each other.
5) Innovate in citizen approach with good design and merchandising
A picture is worth a thousand words. And so is a good logo, merchandising and every visual support.
Try to use elements that people can relate to.
Sometimes try out-of-the-box approaches, which can introduce a surprise element. People like “controlled uncertainty”.
Are there more tips? Of course!
I am looking forward to hearing your feedback.
Remember Participatory Budgeting is all about engagement and empowerment. Why not let your citizens help with certain aspects of the communication? Challenge them and tell me how did it work out.
Or are you expecting different results while making thinks the same old way?