Five Steps to Engagement


We at Arch Communications have focussed a lot on helping the NHS to engage with stakeholders, public and staff. But what exactly does that mean – and how can it relate to business?

In the public sector, structured engagement is an essential part of shaping or changing services. It can make the difference between support and opposition, success or failure.

But the principles and disciplines used in this work can be equally valuable for commercial enterprises, who want a better understanding of their customers and clients – especially if you’re thinking of making a change.

Engagement is about going out and talking to people on their terms. It gives them the opportunity to comment on and influence the issue being discussed.

This is our simple five-step toolkit for effective engagement:

  1. Know your stakeholders and how best to reach them

This is where good research comes in. Think about who is directly, indirectly and potentially impacted. For the NHS, this could be people who use a service, their families and carers and staff. It may be other organisations and politicians. For businesses, this can be customers and staff – but also suppliers, investors and regulators. Is there anyone in particular where you want the relationship to improve?

  1. What’s your story?

Get the narrative right and in a language that is understood by everyone. Don’t use jargon, and don’t assume everyone knows about you. If you want to talk about change, explain why it’s a good idea. Keep your narrative to the point and don’t deviate from it.

  1. Build an engagement plan at the very outset

Don’t simply launch into an engagement programme. It needs to be thought about in advance, and is often best done in several different phases .Schedule in some checkpoints so you can see who you’ve engaged with and where the gaps are. As with all plans, things can and will change throughout the project.

  1. Deliver your plan

Pretty straightforward this one – deliver it and do it well. Record everything – from numbers engaged with, through venues and groups visited, to summaries of conversations. Then you can start to look for trends in what people are thinking and saying.

  1. Show how engagement and feedback have made a difference

Always feed back to the people that took the time to share their views, insights and opinions, especially if you can show that what they said has influenced what you are doing.

At Arch Communications we have the expertise and experience to help you plan and engagement with your key stakeholders, whoever they are.

Why not contact us to find out more?