Understanding the people you want to engage with is critical if you want to develop high quality engagement work. There are practical tools on our website to help you think through the interests and needs of different audiences
. In this page we offer a simple framework for considering the participants in engagement. There are three main groups of people that you might want to consider.
Whilst the temptation is always to target the ‘general public’, this can be unhelpful if you are trying to develop quality interventions. The more you understand the group(s) of people you want to engage with, the easier it is to ensure the intervention is fit for purpose. For example if you want to engage with elderly people, you may not choose to do so through social media (although, no doubt, someone has managed to do this well). So being clear about the people you hope will participate in an engagement project helps you consider what they need, what they might want, and why they might want to engage with you. It also helps you develop effective marketing.
Lots of engagement is done in partnership with others. Sometimes the partner organisation is also the participant in the engagement activity, sometimes they work with you to design and deliver the intervention, and sometimes they offer expert input, access to specific publics, or resources. We have a range of partnership guides to help you figure out the type of partnership that could help you in your work. It is worth bearing in mind that working in partnership can be both rewarding and challenging – check out our guide for how to navigate these interactions well. Don’t forget, your partners will have views on how they want to engage with you, and what they are hoping to achieve. Lots of great partnerships happen when people start with exploring their aims, and seeing if there is any synergy between them.
Your delivery team
Often forgotten, but so important, is the delivery team. This might mean the staff and/or students at the university, but could equally include partners you are working with. There are a range of things to think about here. Do the team have the skills they need to do the work well? Does the activity serve the purposes they have in participating in your activity? What can you learn from them about how the engagement activity could work better?