In early October 2015, WaterWerks Communications sat down with the Town of Torbay to talk about their budget consultations. Their challenge was one arguably every municipality faces. Low citizen engagement. They identified that, in the past two years, Torbay’s budget consultation has been largely unsuccessful. The
previous year no one attended and the year before only five. WaterWerks proposed an Interactive Town Hall and social media budget consultation. #AskTorbay anything you want to know about the 2016 budget would be Newfoundland and Labrador’s first ever live streamed Interactive Town Hall.
WaterWerks proposed a hybrid model of social media, advertising and public relations to engage citizens in a virtual consultation. The Interactive Town Hall was an invitation from the Town for anyone via Twitter, Facebook, email or even by phone to participate in an open exchange about issues facing the town for the
upcoming year and beyond. The consultation was recorded with a moderator and live-streamed via the YouTube. That moderator, fittingly enough, happened to be the CEO of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador. Questions addressed during the Town Hall were selected both in advance and in real-time during the event.
Several residents showed up to see the show in person, while 93 people tuned in during the broadcast. That number reached 465 in the next few days.
By every metric, we would consider this campaign a success. With 58 unique questions, extensive press coverage, a healthy social media presence boost, and a successful live-streamed event, we achieved and surpassed our goals for the project. The learning and plans were applied again this year for 2016 consultations. The format was adapted the following year to include a citizen's budget effort, public event, and video packages updating Town initiatives. WaterWerks and the Town collaborate in the ongoing evolution of public engagement using all the in-house resources WaterWerks has to offer, including public relations, media relations, print and digital design, web design and coding, social marketing, photography and video.
WaterWerks Communications and the Town of Torbay continue to work together to building on these successes to achieve positive and meaningful citizen engagement throughout the year.