2020 Engagement Forecast

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement & Communications

One of our annual traditions is the Engage Delaney engagement forecast, where we look to the year ahead to identify trends, best practices, and cautionary engagement tales. In 2019, we identified some trends and insights that proved out for our work and so we hope these will provide some benefit to your work in the year ahead.

Fiscal Restraint: Given British Columbia will be in the third year of a governing minority government (election coming Oct 2021), and with a minority government federally, we see an era of fiscal restraint and not wanting to spend too much on engagement and communications. While this may pose a challenge to conducting meaningful engagement, it is also an opportunity to support engagement with a decentralized approach and do-it-yourself kits. We see loads of opportunity to support stakeholders and communities in conducting their own engagement with DIY kits, supporting self-organizing and small-scale engagement.

Big Conversations: Issues like climate change, the opioid crisis, housing crisis, and tidal wave of need for mental health supports are starting to become part of the narrative of our everyday life. This means that increasingly communities want to have the BIG conversation. Engagement that was “safe” or “small” is increasingly not going to cut it. Communities want to engage on how they can address the climate change emergency. Families and communities touched by the opioid crisis want 2020 to have less death, suffering and delays in access to support and treatment. What kind of community do we want to create for ourselves, our children and families? This is the conversation, I believe, communities increasingly want to have.

Strategy: 2020 is a new decade and has a special ring to it. Many organizations are either working to develop a strategic plan or are delivering on a strategic plan. This means that we can expect to hear more about vision, mission, values, priorities, evaluation and measurement. And while this is interesting work, it can be challenging to engage communities on strategy. So, the need to communicate why strategy matters has never been more important.

In terms of engagement techniques, I see a mix of online and in-person being the norm and focusing on meeting people where they are. This means leveraging existing events, meetings and community activations and being relevant and relatable to communities wherever they are.

Wishing you an engaging 2020.