To prepare for the shift towards a youth engagement framework, communication and knowledge mobilization are key! Youth and all staff at the agency need to understand the importance of youth engagement and how the agency will support initiatives. To do this effectively, agencies should consider developing a communications plan. We have compiled a few quick tips to help you get started:
- Be intentional: Communication should be deliberate and planned.
- Be clear: Your vision, direction and goals should be clear. Use accessible language.
- Engage experts: If you have in-house communicators, tap into them. If you don’t, try to find communication experts in the community with whom you can partner. Invite them into the planning phase and ask for their advice and support throughout.
- Don’t confuse informing with communicating: Go beyond what is happening and let people know why it’s happening.
- It’s a two-way street: Make room for dialogue at all levels of your organization. Pay as much attention to what comes in as to what goes out.
- Communicate early and often: Embrace transparency and uncertainty. It’s acceptable to not know the answer to a question, but it’s not acceptable to allow misinformation answer for you.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one e-basket: Communicate your messages consistently in various formats: e-mail, meetings, publications, videos, displays, etc.
- Know your audience: Find different ways of sharing your message, ensuring a broader reach, including those without access to mainstream outlets. Consider using social media to reach youth and try partnering with families or schools.
- Don’t disappear: When facing difficult moments, prioritize communication and stay visible and connected with stakeholders.
- Communicate with others doing similar work: Change is hard, and it helps to communicate with others who are doing or who have done something similar. We suggest building a community of practice; it’s a great way to connect with other agencies and individuals doing youth engagement work.
- Measure and adapt: Include communication tactics in the evaluation process. Determine what is working and adjust what is not working.
Communication and social media
Social media is an effective way to communicate, especially with youth. There are many benefits to using social media, including sending out information about upcoming events, sharing information and keeping people connected. There are also many considerations that must be taken into account before using a social media platform to reach out to youth and others in your community.