I started my career in book publicity and celebrity events. On paper, it seemed like everything you could want in a job—cool connections, the chance to be creative, living in the city—everything!
Though I learned a lot, I ultimately discovered that I needed something different to feel fulfilled in my work and I looked toward the public sector. My biggest takeaway from my early work was the understanding that public outreach always has impact. But it is up to communicators to determine if that impact makes a real difference.
At Avid Core, we believe comprehensive public outreach is our responsibility, and, in the government sector, public outreach is even more important. People often feel disconnected from the government and the choices officials make, even though many of those choices impact their day-to-day lives.
A good outreach strategy should inform, educate, and give the public a voice. Public outreach can even cultivate buy-in and be the difference between a project’s success and failure.
There are three major factors that can influence the success of your public outreach strategy.
Determining Your Audience
Make every effort to engage the totality of people who will be impacted by any project. Too often organizational leaders want to jump into their messaging without doing the research to understand who they are reaching and who they need to be reaching.
Without taking the time to understand your audience and who your audience should be, you can’t create effective messaging. And if you aren’t getting any important feedback from your ongoing outreach, it’s time to cast the net a little wider.
Reaching Your Audience
It is necessary not only to expand the voices involved in your projects, but also to expand the ways that you deliver information. Meet people where they are.
After outlining who you need and want to reach, delve into the ways this audience wants to communicate with you. Are there community leaders that need to be brought in to help spread the word? Will it require a combination of social media, e-mail, and direct mail? These answers will vary from project to project, audience to audience, and you must be willing to shift with them.
Making it Real
It is crucial to create a real option for feedback and give the public a chance to share their knowledge. As the people most impacted by a project, they can help identify issues you may have never considered.
But this feedback can’t just be lip service. If you want stakeholders and members of the public to trust you enough to offer information, you must prove you will act on their behalf. Showcasing the actionable steps taken after a campaign is critical.
While these are far from the only determining factors in a successful outreach strategy, these are three areas we put a special emphasis on at Avid Core.
A comprehensive public outreach strategy is just one way communicators can play a role in working toward a more equitable society. As we grow as a company, we remain committed to making a meaningful impact in any way we can.