2023 Engagement Forecast

It can’t be too late to wish you Happy New Year, right? January has been a whirlwind and so, here is our late, but thoughtful, 2023 Engagement Forecast. This annual tradition is a forward-looking, educated best guess at what the engagement trends might be for the year ahead.

  1. Push for In-Person Engagement Is On

    If 2022 was any indication, there is going to be a strong desire for in-person engagement. Who would have thought in 2019 that people would so miss the lukewarm coffee, information boards and name tags of the community open house? And yet, here we are with organizations and communities hungry for in-person connection. While this is completely understandable, at Delaney, we hope and encourage a commitment to accessibility, both online and in-person. For some, being online felt safer and more accessible, and so while we appreciate the desire for a return to “normal”, we value inclusive processes that engage people where they are: both in-person and online.

  2. Safety Considerations: This Isn’t January 2020

    While there is a desire for in-person connection, we feel it’s also important to recognize that we are not going back to the in-person engagement context we left in January or February 2020. People are more polarized and can be more challenging to engage. We believe the need to focus on personal and psychological safety is even more important. Working to support staff with understanding around safety protocols, having dedicated staff responsible for safety planning and implementation, and protecting engagement spaces as safe spaces, we believe, will be an important focus for the year ahead.

  3. Money, Money, and Less Money

    If people are feeling the financial pressure of buying spinach, do you really think they want a $10,000 video explaining your project? Our guess is no. We believe this year will be marked by austerity engagement, meaning trying to do more engagement with less budget. While we appreciate design and effective communications, we see a trend towards focusing on storytelling and more basic communications and engagement techniques that are low cost and timely – for example, a narrated PowerPoint, in lieu of a produced video, a single infographic in lieu of a lengthy designed report.

  4. Trade-Offs Where Options Aren’t Great!

    Municipalities are developing their budgets; provincial and federal governments are duking it out over health care funding… these are not flush times. In the year ahead, we see ongoing engagement on options or trade-offs where the question is: which is less bad for you? Likely, there are few ‘totally awesome’ options, given pressures on affordability and the cost of living. Communities in British Columbia are contemplating steep property tax increases in the double digits, and the costs of public services, coupled with the loss of pandemic funding and grants, is going to mean hard decisions ahead for elected officials. They will likely want community feedback on what option is… well… less bad.

  5. Premium on Communications

    Given there has been so much misinformation and resulting mistrust and skepticism amongst the public, our hunch is that organizations will put an added focus on strategic communications and storytelling. Often the INFORM level of the IAP2 spectrum doesn’t get as much attention as other places on the spectrum, but in 2023, we believe many organizations will have a strong need to reframe and reposition their mission and mandate so that it resonates with their community. Remember: we can communicate and not engage, but we can’t engage without communications. What trends do you see in the year ahead in engagement? We’d love to hear them.

New Year’s Resolutions and Professional Development

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to invest in yourself – some professional development and a boost to your resume, perhaps? Wondering where to start? If you are an engagement specialist, you already know how important it is to have a plan to achieve objectives and measure success, and the same is true for personal growth. Here’s something that might just be for you!

IAP2 Canada is now offering a Certificate in Public Participation (P2). Based on IAP2’s newly released Global Learning Pathway (GLP), this professional development certificate program builds on the foundations of public participation training and best practices from around the world.

The Certificate in Public Participation consists of three core courses – Fundamentals of P2 and Engagement (as a prerequisite to the following two courses); Designing P2 and Engagement; and Applying Methods. This involves approximately 30 hours of engagement training.

You get to make the plan and decide the pace of your engagement training – take the prerequisite now and add the other two later or take a speedy trip to completion of all three courses. It’s up to you! Upon completion of the three courses, you will receive a Certificate in Public Participation to acknowledge you’ve completed an important segment of your learning journey – something to add to your resume and tuck away quietly as a resolution accomplished!

Delaney, the engagement people, is pleased to offer everything you need to complete this certificate. We have the courses, and we have the team. Have questions? Check out our Upcoming Courses or drop us a note at Brenda@rmdelaney.com. All the very best to you and your engagement work in 2023.

Come work with us!

The Delaney team is looking for its next team member.

We are a small, nimble team of communications and engagement professionals looking for a new communications and engagement coordinator. This person will primarily work remotely but with some in-person engagement opportunities in the Lower Mainland. We are looking for someone who can support both the training and consulting practice and who is keen to launch or advance their career in community engagement. If you are a fast learner and appreciate working on different projects and different kinds of work, we want to connect with you.

The full job posting is available here (PDF). This position is open until filled, and we hope to fill it in the next month.

If you are interested in this role, please include a cover letter explaining your key strengths for the role and your CV. Please send all applications to Kristi Merilees at kristi@rmdelaney.com.