Think about and plan for community engagement at the start up of your program and at various phases of the project.
Consider strategies such as “building-in” program governance structures that reflect the community’s diversity, developing a formal community engagement and communications plan, or committing to a schedule of regular activities to reach out to and involve your community and other key audiences.
To attract people to program visioning, planning or information sharing events, use incentives such as door prizes, food, childcare, or bringing in an interesting speaker.
When working with Elders and other key knowledge holders, develop clear honorarium policies to respect and compensate them meaningfully for their invaluable role, input and time.
Make it convenient and safe for community members and others to ask questions, provide feedback, or report on what they have seen on the lands and waters. Set up a system to track this feedback (whether in person, email, phone, Facebook, etc.) and always follow up.
Work with your guardians to understand and tell the story of the guardian program and connected initiatives. Creating key messages for your program will help members effectively communicate the work of the program on a day-to-day basis.
Develop program brochures or topic-specific information sheets to help guardians share important information with community members, visitors and resource users. These documents can help guardians start up a conversation and provide back up to the verbal information they provide.
Build the capacity and confidence of your guardian program to use a range of communication tools (i.e. face-to-face dialogue, videos, Facebook, Twitter, PowerPoint, Publisher, blogs, etc.) Use popular communications channels to ensure you reach your audience.
Consider that some information should not be communicated broadly and kept strictly confidential (i.e. information about suspicious activity or non-compliance.) Develop clear policies and make sure that everyone understands them.