Engagement strategy template
This Engagement Strategy Template is intended to be a starting point for you to use in developing your project engagement strategy. Each section is set up for you to add information that meets your requirements. Prompts and example text is in italicised text and should be removed from your strategy document.
This template is also available as a downloadable Word document (.doc 237kB).
- Engagement phases
- Engagement policy
- Key messages
- Topics open for discussion
- Engagement methods
- Protocols for engagement
[If your project is long term you might also consider providing a strategy snapshot at the start of your document.]
|Planning the project||Complete environmental scan||To understand current awareness||All New Zealanders who are eligible to vote||Research|
|Launching the project|
- Project description
- Who is involved
- Project rationale – what is the purpose of the project? – generally, not just engagement.
Key project milestones
[Include milestones for both the engagement and the wider project.]
The key milestones for the project:
|Focused engagement with key stakeholders|
|Develop draft strategy/policy, etc|
|Engage on draft strategy/policy, etc|
|Develop final strategy/policy, etc and summary of engagement|
|Present final strategy/policy, etc and summary of engagement back to stakeholders (close the loop)|
Status of the project
[Answer questions that provide clarity about the status of the project with respect to the community/stakeholder interests and views, current and past state of the project, e.g.:
- What do the community know, think of the project?
- Is this the first stage of engagement?
- What did previous communications and engagement look like – methods?
- Who has engaged with you on this issue – general description of awareness of issue and representation in discussion to date?
- What did they say about the project?]
Social, technical, economic and political considerations
- Are there any social and economic issues you should be aware of?
- Do you need to take into account literacy, language or cultural considerations?
- Is there any political sensitivity around the topic you are discussing?
- How technical are your stakeholders?
- Will they be able to access the internet and online tools for engagement?
- How can you help them engage?]
|Opportunity for project to have a positive impact|
|Potential issues that may require management|
|Digital literacy of community and accessibility of internet|
How this strategy fits into the broader communications and engagement
|Corporate engagement strategy and tools|
|How the strategy will integrate with offline project engagement|
|Integration with other online methods:|
[Describes the purpose and authority to engage.
[See the guidance on defining your engagement objectives.
Try and make your objectives SMART:
- Specific: target a specific area for improvement, explain why you are engaging
- Measurable: quantify what you hope to get out of the process
- Assignable: specify who will do it
- Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved within given constraints (available resources, expertise, time, budget, etc)
- Time-related: specify when the result(s) can be achieved.]
The objectives of engagement for this project include:
|Demonstrate and test…|
|Gather input to inform…|
[Here is a basic assessment of stakeholders and their interests in the project. See the guidance on stakeholder analysis for further detail.]
|Stakeholder||Their interest in the project||Level of input into the project||Status of relationship||Desired outcome|
|Agency staff and management|
|Central Government – agencies|
[See the guidance on project resourcing for definitions of roles.
Note: Each person in the project team can take on multiple roles if they have the right skills.]
The project team consists of the following roles:
|Project team||Name||Contact details|
|Senior Responsible Officer|
|Engagement Lead / Online Community Manager|
|Subject Matter Expert|
This team will work closely with:
|Wider team and support||Name||Contact details|
|Information and records manager|
[Refer to your agency’s financial policy regarding Capital and Operational expenditure.]
The project’s estimated budget is:
|Marketing – online and offline|
|Engagement tools - selection and configuration; procurement/development and security accreditation|
|Strategy development. It is common for project teams to seek advice outside their agency or team to draft or review a strategy.|
|Technical service provision, e.g. website development and system integration, and ongoing technical support|
|Forum moderation, online community management and facilitation.|
|Content development practitioners|
|Requirements gathering, selection and configuration of tools – increasingly from independent|
[See the guidance on engagement phases.]
|1 Sep – 1 Oct||Planning the project||Research
Listen - Research to identify community and stakeholders, and how they engage with each other and around the topic
Crowd source ideas
|1 Oct – 1 Nov||Launching the project||Announce project
Inform interested stakeholders
|1 Nov – 31 Dec||Engagement||Consultation
Collect feedback on, and discuss aspects of, proposed solution
Internal process to analyse all information collected during consultation
|31 Dec||Close engagement||Post-consultation
[Determine what principles fit your overall engagement strategy and consider which ones are specific to certain phases. Recommended principles are:
Build trust through transparency and responsiveness - Be clear and open about the process, and provide a public record of the organisers, sponsors, outcomes, and range of views and ideas expressed. Meaningful and responsive engagement builds trust and confidence in Government’s ability to deliver to people’s needs.
Encourage collaboration - Support and encourage people, the public sector, community groups and others to work together to improve government.
Encourage openness and learning - Create a safe environment to explore new ideas, learn and apply information in ways that generate options collaboratively and make sure engagement is effective and relevant.
Set clear expectations - Set expectations about the purpose of the engagement and how much influence people will have over the outcomes.
Be inclusive and reflect diversity - Include a wide range of people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for results that reflect the views of all stakeholders.
Make engagement standard practice - Promote a culture of engagement as standard practice across the public sector in support of ongoing public participation.
Honour the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tīrīti O Waitangi - Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tīrīti work together to protect our respective rights and uphold our responsibilities to realise common and distinctive aspirations for increasing and improving fair and active participation.
Plan and prepare carefully - Through adequate and inclusive planning, ensure that engagement serves both a clearly defined purpose and the needs of the participants.]
[An ‘engagement policy’ is the standard you apply when engaging. It defines the principles and rules of engagement for you and your stakeholders. It also provides a basis for your engagement strategy and ensures your project mandate and engagement principles are endorsed and implemented.
See the guidance on developing your engagement policy.
Also see the example moderation policy in Appendix B.
Use the statements below to describe your engagement policy at a high level.]
- Online engagement will be used to support delivery of the [project name] stakeholder engagement and communications strategy.
- Feedback will be gathered through [eg website/social media/email address].
- Feedback will be recorded, analysed and reported progressively to the project team by [name of person or group responsible].
- Feedback will be published according to the moderation policy by [name of person or group responsible] on [eg website/social media] within [timeframe] after being received.
- Engagement will be [reactive and/or proactive] with content used both planned and responsive.
- Analytics, interactions and key terms will be monitored [daily/weekly] by [name of person or group responsible] and reported to the project team [daily/weekly].
- [Name of person or group responsible] will be empowered to manage community and online channels in real-time on behalf of [project name] within the terms of the agreed issues escalation policy
- The [organisation or project name] moderation policy will be published on [eg website/social media] (and is attached to this strategy).
[Consider what key messages are needed for your engagement strategy. You might want to think about:
- About the project – what is your story?
- Organisations team and role – personalize
- Current understanding of the problem, project rationalization
- Role of engagement and community input in the project
- What the outcomes of the project will be
|Key message||Supporting details|
|Meaningful and responsive engagement builds trust and confidence in Government’s ability to deliver to people’s needs.||Transparency International rates New Zealand as the second most trusted country.|
Topics open for discussion
|What aspects of the project are open to influence…?|
List the key decisions / changes to be made
|Key decisions and changes||Why|
What do you want / need to know
|Item||What do you want / need to know?|
|About the Community|
|About the Stakeholders|
|About Potential Impacts|
What are your questions?
|To the Local community|
|To the Wider stakeholders|
|To the Community organisations|
[See the guidance on engagement methods.]
|Inform and invite participation||For example, methods to:
|Research and collect input|
|Crowd source and discuss ideas|
|Engage to build capability|
|Consultation around strategy|
|Responsive engagement methods||
|Closing the project||
Protocols for engagement
How and who will contact and manage ongoing liaisons/relationships with stakeholder groups.
|Stakeholder group||Relationship manager||Method|
|Community members||All communications with community members and stakeholders will be documented in [name of document and location] and shared with [name of person or group].|
|Specific community groups|
Management of information collected
[See the guidance on managing, responding to and sharing feedback.]
- Consent for the collection and use of [type of information] will be collected at [name of document and location] and a copy of the consent statement will be attached.
- Information and enquiries about the project may be collected through:
- In person – at events, customer service centre
- Phone – we call them or they call us
- Email – contact us page or direct to staff of
- Written correspondence
- Social Media
- Information will be collated and stored in the following ways:
- Feedback gathered at events – will be recorded and handed over to [name of person or group].
- Social media – discussion about this project on social media will be captured and treated as input if it uses #[hashtag]or @[Twitter handle]. This information will be captured using [name of app or document]
- Submissions – will be formally collected through an online form on the website or through mail to [name of person or group] then shared with [name of person or group].
- Emails – any email related to the project will be [name of person or group].
- Phone – calls will not be recorded. Callers will be encouraged to use online methods to provide input. If this is not possible a summary may be uploaded into [name of document, website or other location] for ongoing issues and relationship management.
- Submissions will be published publicly in accordance to [name of policy] policy.
- All records will be retained in accordance with the [name of organisation or project] Privacy Statement, records management protocols and advice provided by [name of person or group].
- Information collected will be used to develop reports as follows.
- Progressive reporting to community and stakeholders engaged.
- Weekly reports will be provided to [name of project] project team about:
- Level of participation
- Key themes.
- Monthly report will be provided to [list governance body]about x, y, and z.
- At the end of consultation a full consultation report will be provided to [list governance body and other key stakeholders].
- A public consultation report will be published on [name of website or other location]. This document will/will not include personal details of submitters/participants, or other personal information.
Management of online channels
|Manage online channels – branding decisions, configuration and approval to launch|
|Manage access to online tools – login details||List who will be given access and why|
|Process to pre-test online engagement methods||Describe the process|
|Develop the moderation policy
Check if your organisation already has one you can refer to. Also see the example moderation policy in Appendix B.
|Develop the social media policy
Check if your organisation already has one you can refer to
|Who will you follow?|
|Manage the online community|
|Provide responsive engagement||What type of content will you like and share?|
- To ensure timely response and effective community management staff will:
- Monitor pages and moderate comments – in accordance with the moderation policy
- Respond to enquiries using responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- Acknowledging and encouraging participation by thanking community members for comments and asking for clarification when they do not understand comments made
- Proactively manage issues
- Issues will be managed to:
- Protect the [name of organisation] brand and reputation
- Protect privacy of our stakeholders
- Responses to comments will acknowledge input, answer questions, correct misinformation, encourage and direct ongoing discussion
- Updates on the project – progress updates, photos from events and from team meetings will be used to demonstrate transparency and provide updates on how input is being used and considered (see the content strategy)
- The project team may also wish to ask follow up questions about feedback and/or provide a response to feedback throughout the process.
Handling of enquiries and issues management
- All enquiries will be:
- Responded to within [list expected response time] timeframe as outlined in the response policy
- Responded to using the standard responses with new content added to a central [name of document, website or other location]
- Documented – see management of information from stakeholders
- Any reoccurring requests for information or frequently occurring issues will be responded to through [name of person or group].
- [Name of person or group] has been nominated and empowered to respond on behalf of the team if issues relate to the standard responses
- If a question arises that is outside of the scope of the approved responses the online community manager will draft a response and obtain approval from [name of person or group] via [method eg email, memo]. This response will then be added to the standard response.
- If an issue arises that has the potential to impact on the [name of organisation] reputation or brand, [name of person or group] will [name of person or group] to inform them of the issue and suggest actions to be taken. [Name of person or group] will then advise how best to inform and request involvement of the [name of person title] if required.
- Media enquiries and/or issues will be: referred to [name of person or group].
- Enquiries by Ministers will be referred to [name of person or group].
- Proactive content - a storyboard of content will be created using:
- Evidence/information used to inform draft proposals
- Updates on the finalisation of the [XXXX]
- Promotion of engagement events being held
- Details about related projects and programs
- Videos – [created content], Voxpops from events, advertisements
- Photos – from events, from across [events, groups, promotions], drawing from events, photos from across [name of website or app] (user-generated photos)
- Power points – used at events will be [name and location of source file].
- Responsive content:
- Participation on social media during events
- Progressive informal summaries of feedback provided
- Media releases
- Reports and materials used by the project team to inform draft proposals
- Facts about [name and / or focus of project]
- Articles and updates about [name and / or focus of project] from reputable sources around the world
- Related community events
- Related activities across Government
- Relevant stakeholders, community leaders, networks and groups will be identified, monitored and their participation encouraged
- Recognize and support the efforts of our partners and community groups who are supporting engagement.
- Evaluation process: [name of person or group] will conduct the evaluation at [expected date or timeframe] date and on a fortnightly basis using the metrics and processes outlined in the evaluation section of this document.
Post – consultation engagement handover
- If the project team is not responsible for ongoing engagement, what is the handover process of systems, relationships and issues outside the scope of the project to [name of person or group] team within your organisation and/or [name of person or group]team outside your organization (taking into account information management requirements).
|1 Sep – 1 Oct||Planning the project|
|1 Oct – 1 Nov||Launching the project|
|1 Nov – 31 Dec||Engagement|
|31 Dec||Close engagement|
Measures of success
[See the guidance on metrics of success.]
We will know we are successful when we have:
- Reached [number] number of stakeholders
- When [ %]% of the number of stakeholders engaged represent [number] of the population
- Volume of input exceeds [number]
- The quality of input reflects an understanding of [issue, constraints, budget etc]
Process to evaluate
[Name and/or focus of project] will be monitored through [which] measures and reported through [name of report and/or recipients] reports on a [add frequency] basis.
Appendix A: Engagement mandate
Example 1: Mandate template
This example template has been adapted from training materials shared publicly by the Consultation Institute, in the United Kingdom.
We… [Name of person or group responsible for the consultation]
need to hear the views of the... [target stakeholders or community - stakeholder types, demographics, geographic area, those directly or indirectly impacted or interested in the issue.]
about... [Issue you asking the community and stakeholders about]
so that... [Decision-maker who is responsible for making the decision/changes after consultation]
can... [make X decision and do X after consultation]
on/by... [add date] when the [focus of project] action /[focus of project] decision needs to take place
so as to achieve / accomplish... [Corporate or project objectives. Contribute to other objectives]
Example 2: Mandate as a simple statement
We are engaging [stakeholder group 1] and [stakeholder group 2] about X and Y because we want to understand Z so that we can do [focus of project] in a way that ensures [stakeholder group 1] and [stakeholder group 2] are able to maximise opportunities around [objectives of the project].
Engaging [stakeholder groups/types] in this way will help us to make a decision about how to take Z into account when doing [focus of the project].
When we get this right we will have achieved [objectives of the project] with the support of stakeholders [stakeholder group 1] and [stakeholder group 2].
Appendix B: Moderation policy
If you are directly responsible for pre- or post-publication moderation of user content, it is important to provide a moderation policy explaining what form of moderation is being applied, who is responsible and how users can contact them.
A moderation policy should always link back to the discussion rules. Wherever possible, an alternative means by which a user can contact the consulting organisation should also be provided in case of a dispute.
An example moderation policy for a discussion forum may look like the following:
Will X consultation/policy team be participating in the discussions?
Yes, relevant team representatives intend to regularly visit the forum discussions and, where appropriate, submit posts to encourage discussion.
What is moderation?
Moderation is the practice of facilitating online interaction to ensure that everyone can take part in discussion, get their views across and that the consultation meets its objectives. It is also about maintaining the flow of the discussion by checking all posts in relation to the terms and conditions of the site.
What is a moderator?
‘Moderator’ is a term for someone who is responsible for making sure that the forum discussion rules are adhered to. A moderator is similar to a chair of a face-to-face meeting and is there to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and able to participate in the online discussion.
Who are the moderators of this discussion forum?
This forum will be moderated by the X consultation/policy team. The moderators always aim to be fair and objective. Moderators are concerned with the quality of the discussion not the interests of one individual, group or idea over another.
Direct communication between the participants and the moderators can take place via email. The moderators’ email address is X.
What form of moderation will be used in this discussion forum?
There are two types of moderation available:
- Pre-publication moderation: where all posts are checked against the terms and conditions before they are published.
- Post-publication moderation: where all participant posts are checked against the terms and conditions after they are published.
This forum will employ a [pre- / post-] moderation strategy. This means that posts will/will not [delete as appropriate] go live instantly. They will be checked regularly [define timeframe] by the moderators.
During the working week, all posts will go live within 24 hours of submission. Posts made during the weekend will go live on the following business day. Forum spaces are readable at all times and you can submit a post at any time.
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