NZ Online Engagement Guidance

Over the past few months I’ve been working with the Digital Engagement team at the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in New Zealand on the NZ Online Engagement Guidance.


Our vision in creating the guidance was to collate all of our various experiences in online community engagement into a single, easy to follow guide that public sector organisations large and small could use either as a first step in community engagement or as a useful guide to best practice.

One of the challenges for all communications and engagement activities across Government in the Digital Age is the enormous range of issues, subjects, tools and audiences engaging with Government and there are few if any “one size fits all” solutions. Through the Guidance I have tried to capture my experiences using technologies to help Government’s engaging community to listen to, understand and consider social issues in decision-making processes and the design of Government programs and services.

The Guidance takes a practical approach to online engagement with a simple explanation of key concepts and checklists for communication, engagement, website, policy and planning teams to plan and deliver effective online engagement. It looks all at phases of engagement, from planning, to consulting, closing the loop, through to ongoing engagement for project delivery, relationship and impact management.

It also includes a simple and easy to use template to develop an engagement strategy and a tailored case study template to enable the sharing of experience and best practice.

It also includes a simple and easy to use template to develop an engagement strategy and a tailored case study template to enable the sharing of experience and best practice.


Notes from the Community of Practice:
What is and isn’t online engagement?

The Guidance was developed with input from engagement professionals from across New Zealand through the Online Engagement Community of Practice (CoP). Janette Wallace Gedge provided the questionnaire design and discussion forum sections and Nicola Martin developed the principles for engagement featured in the document in collaboration with others in the New Zealand Online Engagement Community of Practice. Nadia Webster and Laura Sommer of DIA led the development and digital publishing of the Guidance.

I would especially like to thank Jessica Musson from Auckland Council, Michael Baranovic from Melbourne City and Ian Morris from the UK who peer reviewed my work as it progressed, and The Digital Storytellers who provided their story canvas for the content development section.

Matt Leighninger formerly of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in the Canada, now Public Agenda and Pia Waugh from the Australian Digital Transformation Office have also read the documents and shared the following testimonials:

“The NZ Online Engagement Guidance is a comprehensive, concise, easy-to-use handbook for public officials and employees who want to engage citizens online. The Guidance will help people set goals, relate their engagement efforts to key yardsticks like the IAP2 Spectrum, and think through important challenges like participant recruitment. It also includes links to other resources that can help engagement leaders stay abreast of the rapid developments in this field.”

Matt Leighninger, Executive Director, Deliberative Democracy Consortium

“It is wonderful to see more governments around the world taking active steps towards greater public engagement in governance and democracy. Participation in elections is only one aspect to a healthy democracy, and greater public engagement in governance and policy design will help ensure we can all be more resilient and responsive to a rapidly changing world. Governments cannot solve problems in isolation, and genuine, effective online engagement is an important strategy for a modern government to tap into the wealth of expertise and experience of the broader community. This Guidance provides practical information and support for the New Zealand public service to better engage citizens in the decisions that shape their lives and am very pleased to support it. Congratulations!”

Pia Waugh, Director Analytics & Discovery Layer, Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Office

The documents were digitally published according to the NZ Government accessibility and usability standards under creative commons license. So please, feel free to use and share it. You can find the Online Engagement Guidance and other great pieces of work on the New Zealand Government Web toolkit.

I hope this Guidance will complement the materials already available worldwide and provide a set of practical tools to support professionals across all levels of Government in New Zealand and beyond.

Amelia Loye
Director, engage2

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