Public Engagement for Communicators

In today's world, organizations are increasingly held publicly accountable and expected to be socially responsible. Members of the public expect transparent information and want to be consulted on projects and decisions that interest or directly affect them. Involving the public and key stakeholders as decisions are being made can lead to more informed decision-making and stronger solutions to problems, as well as build trust and improve stakeholder relationships with organizations.

In light of these trends, the communications industry is adapting and starting to embrace public engagement. Good communicators understand that the days of relying primarily on one-way communications to connect with key audiences about a decision that is being made – or has already been made – are gone. They recognize that meaningful engagement that involves the public in the decision-making process using two-way communications and good stakeholder relations are key to the new model of effective public relations.

This highly interactive workshop will provide a practical introduction to public engagement for professionals working in communications roles. Working through a case study to apply the material, you will develop basic skills for involving the public and stakeholders in your organization's activities and decisions, and incorporating public engagement into your communications efforts.

This workshop was formerly called Public Engagement 101.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

 We will cover fundamentals such as the following:

  • Understanding public engagement and its relevance for communications professionals
  • Determining the need for public engagement
  • Identifying and prioritizing key stakeholders for an engagement process
  • Defining objectives and developing an appropriate communications and engagement plan
  • Tools and techniques that can be used in public engagement processes
  • Effectively communicating with different types of stakeholder groups
  • Evaluating and reporting on engagement processes


Alex Russell

Alex Russell is an award-winning communications and engagement consultant with more than 13 years of experience designing and delivering effective strategies that achieve positive results. She has helped organizations of all sizes to communicate clearly and effectively, and to build relationships and have good dialogue with their stakeholders and the public. Alex is passionate about projects that benefit people and communities.

Alex is a strong project manager with experience leading and supporting communications and engagement programs for high-profile, complex and multi-stakeholder health care, infrastructure development, public policy, sustainability, transportation and urban planning projects. For example, from 2015 to 2017, Alex led the communications and stakeholder engagement function for the St. Paul’s Hospital Redevelopment Project, a plan to redevelop the 120-year-old downtown hospital into a state-of-the-art integrated research, teaching and health care campus in False Creek Flats.

Before starting her independent consulting firm, Russell Communications, Alex served as a communications manager at the City of Vancouver. Prior to that, she held senior positions at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, and worked at leading Vancouver communications firm James Hoggan & Associates.

Alex has a Bachelor of Science degree (geography and environmental studies) from the University of Victoria, a Graduate Certificate in Corporate Communications from Centennial College in Toronto and a Certificate in Public Participation from the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). 

Amanda Mitchell

Amanda Mitchell creates opportunities for people to connect to their city. She has over a decade of experience designing public engagement processes that meaningfully involve public voices in policy decisions.

Amanda is currently a public engagement specialist at the City of Vancouver where she supports staff across the organization on their public engagement processes, offering training and strategic guidance. In this capacity, she has been involved with over 60 projects from community plans to policy development.

Amanda is on the board of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Canada and she is a co-founder of a community of practice for Canadian municipal public engagement practitioners. She has led engagement training for the Swedish Green Building Council in Stockholm and co-authored a chapter about the Greenest City engagement process in a recent planning textbook, Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach, published by Oxford University Press.

She holds a BSc in environmental science from the University of Guelph and a Master of Advanced Studies in architecture from the University of British Columbia.