view of seated crowd in meeting room

Working with the Public

Working with the public is a critical element of the planning process. Knowing what the public wants or needs has a direct bearing on the content of the comprehensive plan. This course describes various techniques a planning commission can use to work with the public and identifies what is required for making that interaction successful.

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Course Info

  • Duration 13 video lessons (67 Mins)
  • Published Published
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Browse Course Chapters

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    1. Working with the Public Chapter Duration 1 min
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    2. Communication Challenges Chapter Duration 5 mins
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    3. One-Way Communication Chapter Duration 7 mins
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    4. Two-Way Communication Chapter Duration 7 mins
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    5. Opinion Surveys Chapter Duration 5 mins
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    6. Media Chapter Duration 3 mins
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    7. Presentations Chapter Duration 5 mins
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    8. Personal Interviews Chapter Duration 2 mins
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    9. Town Meetings Chapter Duration 7 mins
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    10. Focus Groups Chapter Duration 6 mins
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    11. Design Charrettes Chapter Duration 3 mins
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    12. Public Hearings Chapter Duration 6 mins
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    13. Review Activity Chapter Duration 3 mins

Course Description

This course highlights the importance of effectively interacting with the public throughout the planning process. Planners have many community outreach methods at their disposal, but when is it most appropriate to host a town meeting as opposed to a focus group meeting? When is a survey more useful than a personal interview? A planner’s job is much easier when he or she is capable of facilitating and implementing a wide range of communication techniques. This course breaks communication into two types: one-way and two-way.

One-way communication may include opinion surveys, the media, and presentations made during various types of meetings. They are considered one-way because the flow of information is going from the public to the planner or vice-versa. In contrast, two-way communication allows the public to interact with the planning team directly. The techniques may include personal interviews, town meetings, focus groups, design charrettes, civic presentations, and public hearings. Each of these techniques is suited for particular stages of the planning process or to answer a particular set of questions. This course discusses how each of these communication techniques plays out in a public setting, how to plan and organize public engagement efforts, and what barriers planners often run into when engaging the community. With a variety of engagement techniques at your disposal, you will improve your ability to adapt the planning process as new information is gathered.

Learn these skills

  • Career Development
  • Civic Engagement
  • Communications & Media

Meet Your Instructor

Mary Reilly

Mary Reilly

Mary Reilly is a land use educator with Michigan State University Extension.

Meet Instructor

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