Definitions of key engagement terms

Community and stakeholder engagement is a process of involving people and encouraging their participation in improving how government works.

Community refers to a group of individuals who share common characteristics like the area they live or work in, their interests and beliefs or profession. For the purposes of this guide community engagement will also include the engagement of individuals.

Consultation is a process designed to present information, often a draft document, and invite feedback on proposed changes within a defined period of time before a decision has to be made. Governments typically release draft plans, proposals or policies as documents for consultation and invite feedback on the proposed changes in the form of submissions over a four- to six-week period. Consultation is required by some New Zealand legislation in with formal notification, submissions and hearing processes.

A stakeholder is someone who has an interest in, or will be impacted or affected by a proposed change. This includes the whole range of people from impacted individuals, communities and groups, to knowledgeable experts, implementers and those who will be held ultimately responsible, e.g. Chief Executives, Ministers, etc.

Engagement is a two-way or three-way communication that generates information and builds relationships. It is a more general term than consultation and is used to describe the activity rather than a required process. Engagement can happen before, during or after consultation and can be ongoing. The questions and topics open for discussion during engagement are usually broader than those posed during consultation, enabling agencies to listen, understand and consider stakeholder issues, concerns and suggestions.

The term online engagement means different things to different people and professions. For example to a Website Manager online engagement is interaction with the website interface, to a Customer Service Manager it refers to clicks per transaction, and to a Social Media or Marketing Manager it's about reach and movement of traffic.

For the purposes of this Guide the term online engagement will mean the use of technology by Government to encourage community and stakeholders to participate in two- or three-way communication online.

Two-way engagement is the process of sharing information and inviting others to provide feedback on it. Submissions or input received in other forms may be published but participants cannot like, share or comment on another participant's feedback.

Three-way engagement is the process of sharing information so others can comment or make submissions on it, then publishing that feedback so participants can reply to, like, share or comment on each other’s input.

Closed engagement is an engagement where only invited stakeholders can participate.

Open engagement is an engagement where anyone can view or participate.

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