Mapping It All Out: Planning the End at the Beginning

Planning a public engagement requires careful attention to detail and forethought. In fact – we’ve written an entire blog post on why it’s important to make a comprehensive engagement plan before diving into a consultation.

One thing that all engagement plans look towards are a final report – to collate feedback collected, survey results or whatever else you’ve asked the public to weigh in on.

And while wrap up reports can feel like a final step, planning for this report is KEY from the start. If we can’t report well on the engagement, then the results of that work are lost. So – thinking about that report, and how outcomes can be summarized and shared – and for who – is important right from the beginning.

Here are some reasons to think about your final report while planning your engagement:

  • Feedback can vary depending on tools: Both the input you receive and your methods for reporting will be impacted by what tools you chose. Considering the resulting format of feedback before you start can help. For example, if you’re developing a survey, will the answers be offered as simple check boxes or short answer comment boxes? This will make a difference in how you summarize data collected and how clear your results are.
  • Participants should know how their feedback will be used: The public should know from the start how they’ll hear back from you on any information gathered. From the beginning, share with the public a plan on how and when the report will be available, and most importantly, what details they can expect to see summarized.
  • Accounting for time: How long will it take to gather and compile data or information once the engagement is closed – because some tools are much more time consuming than others. Give yourself enough time for the engagement to run – and then enough time to properly summarize all feedback, whether you’re summarizing in person activities, online responses or both.
  • Tracking communications is easier from the start: It’s key to set a plan to track communications and input all through the engagement process. Most projects will see multiple forms of input, from phone/email replies, to social media comments, to direct in person feedback. In this case, setting up a feedback log to track these communications can be helpful, and will make final reporting much smoother.
  • Making it visual: These engagement reports can often be text-heavy and make your eyes start to go cross. That’s why every great report includes photos from the engagement activities. So when possible, don’t forget to bring your camera along!

What do you ZINC? How do you plan ahead for reporting on your public consultation? Drop us a note at