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Public Outreach

What existing public outreach channels are available?

Public Works

City

Community

How to decide which channels to use

  • Who is affected by the project? Make a list of your stakeholders
  • Overcommunicating is better than under communicating
  • Start with the hardest to reach populations first
    • For those who do not have access to Wi-Fi/adequate technology --> On-site communications are going to be best
    • For those with language barriers --> Make sure materials are translated and a translator is available for all meetings
    • For those who work during the day --> nighttime meetings are best
    • For those with children --> offer childcare at your in-person meeting

Writing for public consumption

See DPW Writing Style Guidelines

  • Make sure language is easy to follow: no jargon terminology, spell out acronyms
  • Writing should be at a 9th grade reading level. The public are not technical experts
  • Is English your target populations’ primary language? Do you need translation of materials and at meetings?

When writing a project update/information post…

  • Start from the beginning. Describe the project as if it was the first time someone was hearing about it. Always link to project page on DPW website if one exists
  • Where is the project? Be specific as possible about the geographic limits of the project
  • Why is this project being done? How will the project benefit the community?
  • What’s the schedule? When will the project be finished? Think milestones
    • Best practice is to include a rough construction timeline
  • Why are you notifying the public? Just an information update? Or an upcoming activity that will be taking place? What work has already been done on the project vs. what is to come?
  • How will residents/business owners be directly impacted? Will roads be closed to vehicles? Sidewalks to pedestrians/bicyclists? Are there detours?
  • Are you seeking input from the community? If so, be clear on what, and how they can provide it
    • Do you need a survey? Or would you like their feedback at an upcoming meeting?
  • How is this project being funded? Do you need to thank any community groups for donations, or acknowledge local funders (TAM) or State funds (SB 1)? Measure E San Rafael sales tax? Measure A Countywide Parks sales tax? Measure C Wildfire tax?
  • How can residents get more information and/or who should they contact for additional questions?

Frequency of project updates

  • During design: whenever new information arises
  • During active construction: one article in every bi-monthly Friday memo

Use visuals!

  • See "Visuals" section below
  • Not just hard-to-understand engineering sketches. Use photos, aerial images, photos of similar projects, mock designs to get the public to better understand your project.
  • People are used to looking at Google maps. The closer to a Google map your visual is the easier it will be for people to understand.

Public Meetings

Before the Meeting

  • Why are you having the meeting? Identify you intended outcome(s)
    • To inform on upcoming construction schedule, impact to residents, etc.
    • To get feedback on specific design concepts, scope, project scheduling, etc.
      • Do you need a survey? Google forms is a good, free survey tool
  • Ask Admin for help making a registration online form on the project webpage
  • Make a flyer (or ask Admin for help with a flyer)
  • Start promoting the meeting ideally 3 weeks in advance (see “Existing Communication Channels”)
  • How many attendees are you expecting? Prepare materials and tailor agenda accordingly (e.g. plan adequate time for public comment and engagement portions of the meeting)
  • Prepare an engaging presentation with lots of visuals

During the Meeting

  • Follow the agenda
  • Make sure there is time allocated for public comment
  • Remember that people can get distracted easily in virtual meetings and it’s hard to gauge what people are thinking without visual cues
    • This is why an engaging presentation is important
    • Make use of the chat box

After the Meeting

  • Post meeting materials (PPT, survey, etc.) on project webpage
  • Send an email to meeting attendees thanking them for participating and linking them to the project webpage for future updates

Visuals

Free sites to make good looking flyers

Maps

Photos

  • Avoid blowing up cell phone photos for large banners, A-frames etc.
  • When appropriate, work with design consultant to create a mockup of what the finished project will look like

Signage

  • Most funding agreements require signage at the construction site advertise that Measure A, AA, SB1, etc. dollars are being used. Always take photos of signage posted
  • Ask Admin for help with creating A-frame signs, banners, etc.
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