In my work with redesigning a NGO’s website, I have been recommending that the organization adopt and implement an engagement strategy. There are several challenges to this.
- There is the question: What is an engagement strategy which we are not doing now? Basically, what is the difference between engagement strategy and operations. – and certainly these are areas of organizations which need to have some symbiotic relationship.
- Another question has been: Why do we need an engagement strategy with our new website? – The new website is centrally managed, whereas operations are generally regionally managed.
So, the over simplistic answer is that if what a corporation presents themself as on their website is something which they are operationally not, then that presents certain discontinuities for persons viewing their operations and also viewing their website. This becomes evermore important as many potential clients for organizations first interact with that organization via the web. I first started blogging about engagement with regards to Language Development activities in a post titled: The Look of Language Development Websites.
However, engagement strategy goes beyond just presenting continuity. It gets into connecting potential clients with services offered or knowledge held by that organization. An engagement strategy for an NGO with a cause also speaks to how that NGO is going to target persons who are not aware of their cause and introduce them to the cause and provide options for those newly introduced persons to become part of a great solution for the problem just presented. This level of engagement is different than Public Relations, or brochure development (though both of these can be part of an engagement strategy).
One semi-recent and fascinating use of an engagement strategy (albiet perhaps more of a short an engagement program) was the Kony 2012 campaign. While this campaign is responsible for creating the most sought after viral video in the history of YouTube (fasts most views). This video was only part of a larger campaign to create action and awareness of a large social issue.
And of course everywhere there is a movement or a campaign there is going to be a counter information campaign. But when adequately accounted for in the strategy, these counter-campaigns can actually help the original campaign cause gain greater awareness. (Kony-2012 what’s the story, Invisible children Kony-2012, Think twice before donating to Kony-2012)
Because an engagement strategy is related to operations, it can have some interesting implications where the organization is volunteer based and operates differently in different parts of the world. Therefore, engagement while it happens in a non-geographically bound location on the interent, is culturally bound in terms of interpersonal relations when it is implemented through face-to-face encounters.
Because engagement strategy, as apposed to Public Relations or Government Relations is in someways a new concept or approach to some NGOs, I have put together some resources explaining the concept as others are describing it.
The Key to an Effective Engagement Strategy: PATIENCE – this article speaks to the learning process that an organization will go through as they develop their engagement strategy.
The following website talks about/is Mosman (Australia) Council’s Community Engagement Strategy. It is helpful to see how the engagement concept is implemented by governments to have a better/clearer/more open relationship with the citizenry. http://www.mosmanroundtable.net/ces/