Back to (Engagement) Basics

Public engagement can be tricky. But there are some important basics that can simplify strategies. Dr. Neil James, Executive Director of Plain English Foundation, offers specific strategies that can help you have a better outcome. 

Immigration and Border Protection Secretary Michael Pezzullo prescribed four concrete strategies to improve the public sector. One was to “communicate clearly” in a way that is “clear, crisp, meaningful and expressive”.

Unfortunately, these terms are rather open to interpretation. Language that is meaningful to one person may not be clear and crisp to another, let alone expressive. We need to define these criteria in a more tangible way, and then we need to take them much further.

According to James public officials should: 1) Start with words, 2) Reform the structure, 3) Update the design, and 4) Evaluate the outcomes.

To read more click here.

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17. 

All Things P: Policy Engagement

According to Tom Burton, publisher at the, All Things P – named after The Wall Street Journal’s famous technology blog All Things D – is a new outlet sharing information on government engagement and communication.

Be it projects, programs, public affairs — or even little “p” politics —All Things P will give a daily fill of communication and engagement activities across the public sector.

To read more click here.

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16

Soul of the Community

In case you missed it, a 2010 study of 26 communities by the Knight Foundation sought to find out what makes people feel connected to and happy with their communities. The results might surprise you:

We found that positive attitudes about community didn’t vary much based on respondents’ perceptions of the presence of jobs or the quality of basic services in their city.  People with the most favorable opinions of their cities also were more likely to have positive assessments of local social offerings…openness…and the area’s aesthetics.

 What social offerings and aesthetic qualities do residents enjoy about your community? Do you think it has a sense of openness? What do people like about your community, and how might this affect your approach to engaging residents?

What is the soul of your community? Food for thought!

Learn more about the findings in this video, and visit here for the full report.

Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy MPP ’16.

Reforming Civic Education

Civic Education is key to a healthy democracy – and to healthy democratic debate.  In a recent article, Pete Levine, Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Tufts University, argues for improved civic education:

Any election demands knowledge, attention and wisdom from the whole electorate. When a campaign season does not seem to be going well, there’s often angst about whether the public has been sufficiently educated.

Anxious eyes turn to our public schools.

Levine quotes Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at NYU, “Put simply, schools in the United States don’t teach the country’s future citizens how to engage respectfully across their political differences.”

You can read some of Levine’s suggestions for reform here.

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17.