12 Inspiring Civic Engagement Examples [Smart Initiatives]
Civic Engagement Examples
Civic engagement is best described as part of civic participation where the community works together to make a difference in the life of their community. Examples can range from creating a home assessment offer to keep citizens safe, using a website as an emergency platform for community disasters, or creating an emergency response team for a disaster.
More civic engagement examples of community involvement are listed to help you appreciate ways to become more active in the community. The examples act as ways to protect and educate the public, make a change or promote tourism to your area.
As citizens, we all want to love where we live. We want our community to feel like home, to be a place that gives us a sense of pride, and the type of city, town, or village we want to work hard to protect and maintain. If you’re searching for new, unique ways to engage the residents of your community and promote the type of community love that all local governments hope to instill, you’re not alone.
We’re often inspired by the creative ways that communities connect to their residents, which is why we’ve compiled a list of 12 inspiring examples of civic engagement initiatives for smart cities like yours. Take a look at our list below for ideas and actionable tips on how to execute similar programs in your community.
Bonus: Download "The 8 Most Effective Communication Channels for Fostering Civic Engagement" tip sheet as a PDF. Easily save it to your computer or print for reference.
How to Improve Civic Engagement with These Awe-Inspiring Examples
Why It Should Inspire You
Banff, AB is an idyllic mountainside community located outside Calgary in the western province of Alberta, Canada. Banff is not only a place where approximately 8,000 residents call home, it is a popular tourist destination because of its beauty and the outdoor recreation opportunities that it offers. The breathtaking vistas that Banff provides make it an ideal community for leveraging visually-engaging social media platforms that emphasize photography. Pinterest is an excellent platform choice for the Town of Banff because, unlike Instagram, not only does Pinterest allow users to scroll through inspiring images, it easily links to additional information and content. In this way, a community can promote tourism, community events, and even economic development using the social platform.
According to Checkfront, over 150 million people currently utilize Pinterest to catalog, save, and research inspiring ideas and content.
The increasing popularity of Pinterest is part of the overall trend toward visual social media content sharing and engagement, making Pinterest ideal for local governments with regular access to strong visual content. While, like Instagram, Pinterest is predicated on the sharing of individual images, the majority of “Pins” are not user-submitted content. Most are images shared from the web and include links to view the original content source. In fact, 66 percent of content that users pin comes from branded websites.
For local governments, Pinterest can be an effective tool as part of a larger social media Strategy. If you are already sharing images on Facebook and Instagram, those same images can also be shared on Pinterest as another available channel that can help to amplify your social media strategy and engage with citizens. From a tourism perspective, Pinterest offers significant opportunities to create awareness about travel destinations, and even motivate travel plans. Some travel and tour companies report seeing more than 50% of their website’s traffic come through Pinterest.
Pinterest Board Ideas for Local Government
All you need to utilize Pinterest to engage citizens and tourists is beautiful photography, and if you live in a beautiful community, which we know you do, you should have plenty of inspiring community images to get you started. If you’re wondering how to catalog everything that is beautiful in your community, consider these Pinterest board ideas for local government:
- Local attractions
- Parks and recreation
- Downtown landmarks
- Holidays in the community (Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, etc.)
- Travel and tourism
- Food and agritourism
- Local legends and leaders
- Recipes inspired by local ingredients
- Places to shop
- Places to eat
- Our citizens
- Annual events (e.g., your county fair may be a huge community event worthy of its own Pinterest board)
For more on Pinterest, and how to get started with other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Periscope, click here to download our Ultimate Local Government Social Media eBook.
Why It Should Inspire You
Like all communities, Oak Hill, Tennessee wants to keep its citizens safe. To minimize the risk of home invasions or incidents, the City of Oak Hill offers its citizens a free home security survey. All a citizen needs to do to obtain the free assessment is to send an email directly to the city’s Safety Coordinator Captain. He will then assess the citizen’s home's strengths and weaknesses and suggest improvements if needed. The Oak Hill security assessment gives citizens direct access to its civic leads and demonstrates that their leaders care about their wellbeing and will work with them one-on-one to ensure their family and property are safe.
How to Create a Personalized Home Assessment Offer in Your Community
Step 1. Partner with law enforcement. Work in conjunction with your local law enforcement or public safety office to establish such a program.
Step 2. Identify a dedicated contact to field requests. Ideally, it will be a senior-level member of your local law enforcement team.
Step 3. Create a checklist. Work with representatives from your safety office to outline a 10-point safety checklist for use during at-home visits. The checklist should cover such items as door and window locks, the presence of a fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detectors, structural security, and quality of natural gas and electrical safety equipment.
Step 4. Build a digital form. To expedite the receipt and scheduling of requests, integrate a request form or scheduling calendar into your civic website’s program information page.
Step 5. Promote the program. Promote the availability of the program using all available marketing channels, including your local media, subscriber email lists, social media, signage posted in local offices, etc.
Step 6. Right-size your staffing model. Once your public safety office is fielding requests, monitor the total number of appointments being scheduled weekly and adjust your staffing model as needed to ensure adequate program management.
Why It Should Inspire You
Wondering what your citizens think about your new website? Why not ask?
After launching its new CivicEngage® website, the Township of Radnor, PA integrated an opinion poll directly into its website to gather citizen user feedback.
The questions asked were simple: “What do you think of our site?” “Is the site easy to use?”
More importantly, the responses to these questions provide the Township with powerful insights that can be used to further optimize the citizen website experience.
Obtaining citizen feedback via quantitative surveys is an easy and convenient way to not only stimulate citizen engagement but demonstrate to citizens that you value their input. Based on a study by Vision Critical, 86 percent of survey respondents reported that they are more likely to participate in a survey to make a difference in the world, while 87 percent of survey-takers want to have a say in a company’s future products and services. This data reinforces that citizens want their opinions to be heard and want their feedback to be impactful and to improve the products and services they use.
Online Citizen Polling Ideas
Online surveys and opinion polls built-in to your civic website don’t need to focus solely on usability. Consider incorporating the following types of online polls into your local government website:
- Local development projects
- School consolidations
- Suggested locations for local events
- Names for new community development projects
- Election topics
- Budget factors
- Prospective parks and recreation activities
- Community art projects
- The impact citizens have felt from local development projects
- Public transportation routes
- Library programs
Why it Should Inspire You
Every quarter, the City of San Gabriel prints and distributes a seasonal magazine to residents’ homes. The local guide promotes the upcoming activities, events, and engagement opportunities that will be taking place over the next few months. This type of printed guide helps to stimulate civic engagement because it is a beautiful, tangible reminder of all there is to see and do in a community. For busy citizens on-the-go, a printed guide gives them a reason to pause, sit, learn about, and take note of, available activities in their community.
How to Create Your Own Seasonal Community Guide:
Step 1. Create an activities list. Work with your parks and rec or community services department to curate a list of all quarterly community activities.
Step 2. Plan in advance. Start planning a quarter in advance for the following season’s publication.
Step 3. Identify a design resource. Work with an internal, or local design resource to build the quarterly publication.
Step 4. Add photos. Incorporate photos from previous years to promote recurring events. If you don’t have any, begin taking photos at events or ask for citizen-submitted photos. Maintaining an organized database of photos for future use. If you don’t have a staff member that can be dedicated to this process, consider using an intern.
Step 5. Create course descriptions. Pull descriptions of your events from your parks and rec management system and include information that directs citizens to register for events, if necessary, online in advance.
Step 6. Distribution. Print and mail the final publication to homes one month before the relevant season begins. Make sure online registrations for each activity that require sign-ups are open when the guide arrives. Click here to learn more about the benefits of online activity registrations.
Step 7. Sell advertising. To help offset the cost of designing and printing the magazine, sell advertising to local businesses, especially those aligned with your community activities.
Step 8. Promote the publication. Promote the guide on all available channels, including your civic website, social media, email, etc. Encourage citizens who may not have received a guide mailed to their home to pick up a copy at City Hall, and make a copy available online via your civic website too.
Step 9. Track responses. Track responses by asking registrants how they heard about the event, or prompt them to include a magazine code, if applicable when registering.
Step 10. Distribute extra copies. Keep extra copies in local offices (park and rec facilities, city hall, community service office, etc.).
Why it Should Inspire You
The preservation of our natural resources is an important cause with the power to bring people together. Environmental issues help to foster engagement, stimulate dialogue, and grow community pride. When it comes to the preservation of our natural resources one of the most important segments of citizens that need to be involved and engaged is our young people, which is why we are inspired by the Watsonville, CA Environmental Science Workshop.
According to the Watsonville Public Works & Utilities website, the Environmental Science Workshop is a unique program for students to engage in hands-on science concepts, while gaining an appreciation for how surplus materials can be kept out of landfills and re-used in creative and exciting ways. The Environmental Science Workshop program reaches over 600 students each week and creates environments where young people explore science by tinkering and becoming authors of their own educational experiences. Materials and tools are provided and the program is free.
Environmental Class Topics to Engage Your Community
If you’re as inspired by Watsonville as I am and are thinking about holding youth environmental education classes in your community but are in need of course content ideas, here are some class suggestions to help you get started:
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. The benefits of recycling.
- Where do garbage and recycling go when they leave your home?
- How to make recycled paper products.
- Conservationism for kids.
- The risks of air pollution.
- Soil studies.
- What is erosion?
- What is polluting our water?
- Endangered species and how to protect them.
- Can you recycle that? How to recycle every day.
- The dangers of wildfires and how to prevent them.
- Carry out what you carry in: camping and stewardship.
- How to be a paper pal.
- STOP - Save That Office Paper.
Why It Should Inspire You
The full extent of the damage caused by 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are still unknown. Early estimates put the damage caused by hurricane Irma anywhere from $50 to $100 million. A devastating natural disaster is every municipality’s—and citizen’s—worst nightmare. Before, during, and after a natural disaster, citizens will turn first to their local government to provide safety information, evacuation instructions, shelter information, and other potentially life-saving news and resources.
In the days after hurricane Irma, the City of Zephyrhills, Florida used its civic website as a platform for important safety information. On its homepage, it added important safety and recovery update to its main “News and Announcements” section, such as when to expect tree and debris pickup, who to contact if your home had been damaged, and business disaster assistance information.
When a natural disaster strikes, it can destroy the physical structures that make up a community, but it can never tear apart the people that call that community home. In Zephyrhills, like in so many communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, citizens and their local leaders have come together to rebuild their home. It is this type of engagement—for a greater cause—that inspires us and reinforces that no natural disaster can ever truly destroy the essence of what makes a community a home.
Tips for Local Government Community Preparedness
Community preparedness refers to community-wide efforts to give citizens the training, education, and resources they need to prepare in advance against the threat of a possible local disaster at an individual and collective level. According to Ready.gov, studies on personal preparedness have shown that individuals who believe they are prepared for disasters often are not as prepared as they think, while others admit they have not developed any type of personal preparedness plan. To ensure your community is prepared for an unexpected disaster, follow these preparedness tips:
Partner with local resources. Begin your planning by identifying local emergency response organizations and leaders and asking them to be part of your education and planning efforts.
Step 1. Recruit citizens for participation. Use all available communication channels to recruit members of your community to participate in your emergency preparedness team. For tips on marketing communications for local government, click here to download our free eBook.
Step 2. Schedule regular group meetings. Once you’ve recruited citizens to participate in your preparedness team, schedule regular meetings that are always open for others to join and attend. The first primary objective of the group should be to develop a disaster preparedness plan. By engaging citizens in the planning process, they will be more likely to encourage friends, family, and neighbors to get involved and will help spread your message of the importance of individual and community preparation.
Step 3. Identify community members with special needs. Make sure your emergency planning takes into consideration seniors, children, and community members with special needs. Identify all the senior centers, assisted living facilities, day care centers, schools, and adult day habilitation centers in your community. Work with their leadership to make sure you have a plan in place in the event that such facilities need to be evacuated, or receive urgent care. Click here for emergency preparedness tips for citizens living with disabilities.
Step 4. Educate citizens on individual home preparedness. Create and promote educational materials that offer citizens tips and best practices for protecting their individual homes. For example, all citizens should have a functional fire extinguisher in their home, as well as a carbon monoxide detector. Citizens should know how to turn off home utilities such as gas, electricity, and water in the event of an emergency. Communicate the location of nearby warm and cool shelters, and include a map or listing of such facilities on your local government website for easy access.
Step 5. Implement an emergency notification system. Once you’ve effectively established emergency response protocols, you’ll need an effective mass communication system to notify citizens when a disaster has occurred or is imminent. Make sure you choose a system that leverages FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to maximize the reach of communications to travelers, and citizens that have not already opted in to receive emergency notifications. Click here to learn more about IPAWS.
Step 6. Encourage signups for the emergency notification system. Again, using all available marketing channels, encourage citizens to opt-in to receive emergency notifications via your chosen mass communication solution. An ideal system will let citizens choose how they want to be notified—either via email, text message/SMS, or voicemail. Allowing citizens to choose their notification channel helps ensure that when a message is distributed, citizens receive it and respond.
Step 7. Establish and communicate evacuation procedures. In the event of a disaster that requires the evacuation of your community, you’ll need to plan an evacuation procedure in advance and make sure citizens are aware of the process as well. Distribute evacuation maps along with citizen utility bills, and post maps on your local government website so that citizens become familiar with all the major and alternate evacuation routes that lead out of your area.
7. Cuppa’ Joe with Paul, Amherst, MA
Why It Should Inspire You
In Amherst, MA, its leaders are taking accessibility and transparency to a whole new level with their “Cuppa Joe with Paul,” initiative. The town holds regular open sessions where citizens are invited to meet with the Town Manager in a casual setting to discuss community initiatives. Occasionally, special guests are scheduled to attend as well, such as the school superintendent and assistant superintendent for diversity, equity, and HR. These open, causal sessions not only give citizens an opportunity to be engaged with policymakers and take part in local dialogue, they prove that the town values the input of its citizens and that its leaders are accessible, open, and interested in direct feedback.
How to Encourage Civic Participation
If you’re interested in establishing similar, routine, open forum style sessions with your civic leaders and your citizens, follow the tips below to encourage citizen participation:
- Promote the sessions on your civic website. For the two weeks before the session, add a banner or prominent advertisement on your homepage to inform citizens of the date and time of the next session.
- Promote on social media. The Town of Amherst promotes their “Cuppa Joe” events on social media. Posting about the event helps to amplify the reach of your message and encourages social sharing. In addition, if using Facebook, create an event page that followers can RSVP to directly. Not only will it give you an estimated number of attendees, your event will be seen by the friends and followers of everyone who RSVPs that they are attending, further expanding the reach of your message. Ask your municipal leaders to share your posts on their social media pages as well.
- Contact your local media. Notify your local media outlets when your sessions will be held. Local reporters may attend and write an article about the event, which will help encourage future attendance. Also, submit your event to your local news outlets’ event calendars to expand your reach.
- Ask your civic leaders to mention the event at relevant speaking events. In the weeks leading up to the event, encourage your civic leaders to mention to audiences that they have the opportunity to discuss key topics further one-on-one at the upcoming open forum sessions.
- Display posters and distribute postcards. Promote the event in local offices by hanging posters and putting stacks of postcards on display. Partner with local businesses and ask them to hang posters and hand out postcards as well.
- Include information in bill stuffers. Including a small slip of paper with event details in utility bill envelopes is an easy way to educate residents about upcoming events.
- Include guest speakers. As the Town of Amherst has done, invite guest speakers to individual sessions. Depending on their role, they may have significant influence over the number of attendees, and the topics of interest for discussion.
Why It Should Inspire You
Citizens love their communities, and they love seeing advancements in development and civic progress. When large-scale development occurs over a series of weeks or months, and the size and scope of projects are slowly revealed over time, citizens can almost forget what each stage of the project looked like. By filming and recording a time-lapsed video of construction, you give citizens a chance to pause and reflect on just how impressive the development has been, and how much the new construction has improved the community. By sharing to YouTube, the image is easily viewable, sharable, and can be linked to from its civic website.
For the City of Derby, Kansas, its time-lapse construction video of its Madison Avenue Central Park project reminds citizens of all they have to look forward to as they watch their community grow and improve.
How to Capture Time Lapse Video
Time-lapse videos are created using a series of still photos taken over time that is edited into a video that is played back at high speed. Before your next significant local construction project, consider capturing time-lapse video by following these DIY steps:
Step 1. Choose your camera. While you can create a time-lapse video using any type of camera, including a smartphone, point-and-shoot style camera, or webcam, you’ll see the best output from a digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera. Such devices provide higher quality output and give you better control over each shot. Whichever type of camera you select, set it up to take photos that can be output as the highest quality JPEGs possible.
Step 2. Set up your camera. You can use any type of camera for a time lapse video. Ideally, you would set up the camera, leave it in its place, and snap a photo every few hours or days. Depending on the location of your project, you may not be able to set up a camera and leave it for a series of months. However, if carefully done, you can take your series of photos using the same camera from the exact same spot. Use a tripod to ensure you take your photos from the same location and that they are crisp and not blurry from accidental movements.
Step 3. Be sure to take enough photos. You’ll need 24-30 frames of photos per second of video footage compiled at 24 frames per second (fps). That means, your two-minute video will require the use of 2,880 photos.
Step 4. Determine your photo intervals. You’ll need to determine how frequently you’re going to snap individual photos. Know that shorter intervals between photos reveal a smoother video. However, for longer projects (the kind that takes months), you can get away with larger intervals, which means you only need to snap a photo every few hours, or days.
Step 5. Edit your video. You’ve taken hundreds (or thousands) of photos. Now, what do you do with them?
Use a still photo-to-video editing software to display your photos (in chronological order), rapidly one after the other to depict your big reveal. Some software options include Apple Quicktime Pro 7 (For Mac or PC), Time-lapse Assembler (for Mac), iMovie (for Mac).
Why It Should Inspire You
Citizens rely on their local leaders to develop policies and lead initiatives that greatly impact their day-to-day lives. Educational opportunities that help to build bridges of understanding and establish deeper roots of appreciation between citizens and municipal leaders are powerful engagement opportunities. In Eden, North Carolina, citizens are invited to learn more about their city government’s operations and services by participating in such an opportunity: its Citizens Academy.
According to the program page’s website, while attending the Citizens Academy, participants:
- Learn about city government operations and services.
- Participate in dialogues with city leaders, city staff, and other civic-minded residents.
- See taxpayers' investments at work.
- Expand their knowledge and become more informed on current and proposed projects within the city.
- Gain appreciation for the city's resources and capacity to meet the needs of the community.
- Learn about opportunities to become more involved and help build a sustainable community.
- Receive first-hand information and have the chance to ask questions on any topic at the end of each session.
Best Practices for Initiating Your Own Citizens Academy
This type of educational program will take time and internal resources to plan and successfully execute. Keep some of these tips in mind to ensure success:
- Determine an optimal class size. Decide in advance what the optimal class size will be based on internal resources, including available conference rooms and staff administrators.
- Determine frequency. If there is enough interest, determine running the academy on a regular basis. Again, depending on resource availability, consider running the academy annually, quarterly, or at another frequency that makes the most sense for your administration.
- Create an application. Rather than allowing individual sign-ups, ask interested citizens to apply to participate. Even if you ultimately accept all applicants, it can help to influence your programming to know the reasons why applicants are interested in participating, what their expectations are, and what they hope to learn from the experience.
- Ensure buy-in from the top, down. Ask your County Executive or Mayor to participate in one of the sessions. Citizens will value the personal exposure to their local leaders and it will reinforce that the program intends to add a layer of transparency and accessibility to your citizen-municipal relations.
10. Nextdoor, Fairfield, OH
Why It Should Inspire You
We know that social media is an effective way to connect with digitally-minded citizens on a regular basis, and in a way that is easy and impactful for the average, busy resident. Nextdoor is a social media site with a mission that is well-aligned with that of local government, making it an ideal, though often underutilized, social networking tool.
Nextdoor positions itself as “the private social network for your neighborhood.” It allows residents of the same community to connect with one another, share information, find local community resources such as babysitters, and alert one another to events of concern, such as a streak of nearby break-ins.
The City of Fairfield, Ohio has created a Fairfield Public Agencies Nextdoor social media profile to help engage and connect its residents using the power of this neighbor-minded platform.
7 Benefits of Creating a Nextdoor Profile for Your Community
Nextdoor allows public agencies to create profiles to connect with their local neighborhoods.
The benefits of utilizing Nextdoor include:
1. Reach. Direct reach to known residents in your community that want to connect with their neighbors and community members.
2. Meaningful Communications. The ability to craft targeted messaging.
3. Hyperlocal Messaging. The ability to segment messages to one or several neighborhoods or service areas.
4. Urgent News. The ability to further amplify the reach of potentially life-saving information (click here for information on how to create a crisis communication plan).
5. Open Dialogue. The ability to engage in two-way dialogue with residents to announce information, solicit public opinion, and act on issues of interest to the community.
6. Safety Instructions. Providing proactive crime prevention advice to residents to help keep their families and property safe, and residents can report suspicious activity in return.
7. Crime Vigilance. Creating a virtual crime watch program. By becoming part of that dialogue, you reinforce to your citizens that you care about their safety and are taking an active role in residential crime prevention.
Why It Should Inspire You
You never know when an emergency will strike your community—which is why early preparation, community education, and constant vigilance are essential to keeping citizens safe. One of the most effective ways of preparing your citizens for a possible disaster is to involve them directly in the education and response process.
Establishing a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will allow you to educate citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact your community, and train them in basic disaster response skills. CERTs are composed of citizen volunteers who actively participate in classroom exercises to learn key emergency response skills and commit to helping serve their community following a disaster activity when professional responders are not immediately available.
Properly trained CERT members can serve as extensions of professional emergency teams, giving critical support to first responders, providing immediate assistance to victims, organizing spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and helping with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.
In Gadsden, AL, the city is taking such an approach to citizen safety and preparedness by offering a CERT class to residents.
How to Set Up a CERT in Your Community
1. Identify goals. Start by identifying the program goals depending on the potential hazards in your community. For example, your community may need to particularly focus on tornado preparations, hurricane preparedness, or emergency snow removal.
2. Involve elected officials. Engage your community’s appointed and elected officials to gain support for establishing a CERT in your community.
3. Partner with local leaders. Identify emergency response leaders in your community to complete the CERT train-the-trainer certification.
4. Promote the program. Promote your CERT program using multiple communication channels, and recruit potential participants. Focus your recruitment efforts on community groups, business and industry workers, and staff within your own local government administration. As part of your community emergency preparation strategy, be sure to also create a crisis communication plan. Click here to learn more.
5. Hold CERT training. Once your CERT trainers are educated and established, build a regular, recurring schedule to hold CERT training. Focus initially on holding an annual training session, and then consider adding sessions throughout the year based on the size of your community and your citizens’ interest level. Be sure to invite past participants to future sessions as part of their refresher training. The CERT training for community groups is usually delivered in 2 1/2 hour sessions, one evening a week over a seven-week period.
The training consists of the following:
Session I Disaster Preparedness: Addresses hazards to which people are vulnerable in their community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during and after a disaster.
Session II Disaster Fire Suppression: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards and fire suppression strategies. The primary focus is on the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire.
Session III Disaster Medical Operations Part I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simp6. le triage and rapid treatment techniques.
Session IV Disaster Medical Operations Part II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
Session V Light Search and Rescue Operations: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques and, most important, rescuer safety.
Session VI Disaster Psychology and Team Organization: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker. It addresses CERT organization and management principles and the need for Documentation.
Session VII Course Review and Disaster Simulation: Participants review their answers from a take-home examination and practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in disaster activity.
6. Recognize participants. Recognize CERT members for completing their training. Provide them with identification cards, vests, helmets, or other applicable recognition materials.
7. Keep CERT members engaged. A successful CERT program requires ongoing training and team engagement. Encourage CERT members to be prominent in the community by sponsoring events such as emergency response drills, neighborhood clean-up events, and creating educational content that can be shared on your local government website.
Why It Should Inspire You
Since 2008, newsroom staff numbers have hit a double-digit decline, which means local governments aren’t getting the same amount of coverage they used to when sending press releases to local and regional traditional media publications. To ensure important local news and information are still reaching citizens, forward-thinking communities such as Hallandale Beach, FL are creating their own public relations pieces and news stories and are leveraging social media, email, and their own civic websites to serve as their distribution channels.
The City of Hallandale Beach regularly creates news-segment style videos on topics that range from local tourism to safety information. The videos are filmed, posted to social media and cross-promoted on their civic website. Many of the videos compliment the City’s printed quarterly newsletter publication. In the video referenced above, the City’s Mayor provides advice on mosquito safety, reinforcing to citizens that its local leaders are informed on local issues and engaged in solutions.
How to Be Your Own Local News Room
If you’re not getting the coverage you used to from traditional media outlets, create your own. You don’t need professional staff or equipment. Just a video camera or smartphone and some video editing software. Ideas for impactful local story topics include:
- Upcoming community events
- Fall flu clinics
- The opening of new/renovated local civic offices or facilities
- Local business grant opportunities
- Parks and rec or community activity registrations
- Seasonal safety tips
- Recycling and waste disposal tips
- Water quality report findings
- Election and Election Day news
- Road construction or repair projects
- Top ten things to do in the community this weekend
- Volunteer opportunities
- Strategic planning initiatives
- Historical renovation programs
Now It’s Your Turn
You’ve read about 12 inspiring examples of Civic Engagement. Now it’s time to implement them.
The first step?
Leave a comment to let us know which one you want to put into action first.
Before you begin initiating impactful engagement programs, click below to aget access to the free 8 Most Effective Engagement Communication Channels PDF.