Futureye x OurSay: a one stop shop for public engagement

December 12 2017

Hugo Hodge


See profile

If you want to know how your organisation can make the most of a Futureye x OurSay subscription and consulting services package CLICK HERE.

Community engagement is an important undertaking for any organisation but if it’s not done right you face a potentially damaging debate. Futureye and OurSay are pleased to announce a valuable opportunity for those looking to engage but are unsure how to manage community expectations. 

According to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, dialogue has two enemies. Shortly after Catalonia declared independence from Europe’s fifth largest economy, the Prime Minister scoffed at the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s offers of “dialogue” to end the state’s secession attempts.

“The word ‘dialogue’ is a lovely word. It creates good feelings,” Rajoy said. “But dialogue has two enemies: those who abuse, ignore and forget the laws, and those who only want to listen to themselves, who do not want to understand the other party.”

Rajoy’s words go straight to the core element of a dialogue – it has to be a two-way process where both participants are seeking to understand one another’s point of view.

Around the world we’re seeing examples of dialogue breakdown. Upsets in recent election and referendum results have shown us that politicians and the media are talking to their audiences about what they wanted them to hear, not what voters actually want to talk about.

The modern political approach – to speak at voters rather than engage them in a dialogue – might help explain why fewer people are engaging in the democratic process. Unnervingly, we are more often hearing the catchcry “democracy has failed.”

In Australia, compulsory voting has ensured voter turnout remains high but political party membership rates are dwindling.

The incumbent Liberal Party has an estimated 50,000 membership while the opposition Labor Party has close to 45,000. Together, Australia’s two main political parties’ total membership pales in comparison to the 233,000 strong waiting list for Melbourne Cricket Club membership.

Young people are less likely to be enrolled to vote and identify to a particular party than their older counterparts, so it is clear that electoral two party politics is becoming less relevant for millennials.

The trouble we face is getting eligible voters engaged on important issues that directly or indirectly affect them.

But if young people aren’t attending party caucuses with a glass of Champagne in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other, where are they?

It’s probably no surprise – they’re online. And in great numbers.

Digital engagement is a convenient and modern way to undertake a consultative process with communities.

OurSay is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to receive community input on budgets, projects and plans. And it isn’t reserved for governments and councils; any business or industry big or small can gain community-wide approval through online consultation.

Former Prime Minster Julia Gillard wasn’t wrong when she called OurSay “modern democracy and modern technology at work.”

Its user friendly interface allows community members to raise concerns, put forward ideas, and vote in polls, among many other things.

Achieving a two-way dialogue can seem like it really is just clicks away but if you’re not effectively acknowledging and responding to people’s concerns you won’t achieve anything but unintentionally triggering an angry group who feel like you don’t understand them.

Futureye uses the OurSay digital hub to drive and manage on-going online engagement with your community and key stakeholders. The OurSay tool enables your organisation to set up a radar for tracking innovative ideas or early signals of outrage before they become a serious risk to your organisation.

It’s important to understand how to manage outrage to stop the whole thing from blowing up in your face and becoming a PR disaster.

Before any digital engagement takes place, it’s necessary to undertake a stakeholder assessment to identify the highly involved and attentive audiences. These are the people who are driving and monitoring the debate. If you are not engaging in a direct dialogue with these people where you are validating their concerns they will create noise.

Once you understand the concerns and expectations of these groups of people you can produce targeted responses to guide the content and direction of your online engagement so you can ensure it is addressing the core of the problem.

Remember what the Spanish Prime Minister said, you have to talk about what they want to talk about.

How you apply community input to the next stages of the approvals process is the challenging part. For digital engagement to be worthwhile, community members need to be involved in future steps, given an opportunity to collaborate and feel empowered by having key decisions in their hands.

Your approach to engagement must go beyond community engagement for the sake of it. The strategy for applying the insights gleaned from digital engagement needs to be targeted and directly acknowledging and addressing concerns, even if it seems counterintuitive.

If you want to know how your organisation can make the most of a Futureye x OurSay subscription and consulting services package CLICK HERE.

Get in touch with us

We’re happy to arrange a consultation with you to better understand your needs.