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Episode Info: Are Community Engagement Panels the Way of the Future? I think it is great that our government wants to engage with the community and holds consultation meetings before making major decisions, I really do. I care about my community. A lot. But even so, I have to confess that I’ve never actually gone to one of those community consultation meetings. I’ve thought about it, many times. But when the evening comes and it is 25 below zero outside, who wants to leave a nice cozy living room to go sit in a community hall or school gym and listen to neighbours rant? Or if it is 25 above (Celsius. That’s 77 Fahrenheit, for my American readers) I’d far rather be out for a bike ride with my family. Well, the City of Edmonton realized that, while there’s clearly a place for in-person meetings when it comes to community engagement, they needed a way to engage more of us. So a couple of years ago they started building the Edmonton Insight Community. At a recent meeting of the Marketing Research & Intelligence Association (MRIA), the City of Edmonton’s Manager of Corporate Research, Mark Boulter, came to engage with the marketing research community, and tell us how they built their panel, which now has some 7,000 members, who have completed a total of about 120,000 surveys! Today’s podcast episode is an interview I did with Boulter after that meeting. Advice for Building a Community Engagement Panel 1. Start an e-mail list! Don’t wait till you know for sure that you’re going to have such a panel. Boulter credits his predecessor with having had the foresight to start collecting e-mail addresses at events long before they knew they were going to create such a panel. That really helped the panel get off to a good start. 2. Meet with every community group you can think of. If you don’t have an e-mail list, you’ll have to start here. Even if you do have a list, you want to spend lots of time engaging with local community groups so they understand what you are trying to do and its value, and are willing to encourage their members to join. 3. List the engagement panel’s sign-up URL on every government communication. Boulter noted that the City also leveraged its 311 city information hotline, letting callers kRead more »

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