A Public Engagement Plan (PEP) outlines how to involve the public in a planning project. It describes goals and objectives and identifies specific approaches and tools. The PEP can be an internal document, or can be made public to educate citizens about local government plans for outreach and dialogue.
Planning for public engagement is a crucial step in ensuring that engagement efforts are effective. The planning process helps local governments refine goals, identify the community’s needs, determine key audiences, and plan for an evaluation of the initiatives’ success. Answering these questions first provides the level of specificity necessary for success.
There are many resources available to guide local governments as they prepare public engagement plans. California’s Institute for Local Government has identified ten Principles of Local Government Public Engagement.
One good example of a public engagement plan currently being used in Delaware is WILMAPCO’s Public Participation Plan. WILMAPCO has also devised a system to evaluate the success of its plan periodically.
Developing a plan for public engagement is the first step towards engaging more effectively with community members. Using a plan to direct and coordinate various public engagement initiatives helps local governments ensure the cohesive execution of any strategy.