This column, the fifth in a series discussing how organizations can put the public at the heart of communications strategies, explains how to harness the power of the public through collaboration and co-creation.

When an organization engages in a meaningful way with the public it motivates people to mobilize on its behalf, which can help amplify your key messages.

One of the best ways to do this is by involving the public in the creative process. Not surprisingly, people are more willing to support and share something that they were a part of and are proud of creating. It’s human nature and promotes trust, respect and value.

But harnessing the power of the public is not simply about recruiting people to amplify the content that you have created, it’s also about co-creating that content with the public, which improves buy-in, engagement and amplification.

Meaningful collaboration and moving people up the engagement ladder, a concept I covered two weeks ago, often encourages the public to move from passive interest to passionate advocacy. This is as much about creating a sense of involvement as it is about strengthening the public’s interest. Indeed, our level of interest is often related to our level of involvement.

The greater the public’s sense of involvement in any project or initiative, the greater the likelihood that they will feel passionate about it. The more passionate they are about it, the more likely that they will want to help promote it to others.

Climbing up a ladder, any ladder, is always an exercise in trust. People are more likely to climb to the top, if they know it’s secure. Needless to say, the best way to know if a ladder is stable and secure is to help put it up yourself.

Rob Mariani is a senior vice-president with Hill+Knowlton Strategies and serves as general manager of their Ottawa offices.

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