2018 National Planning Conference

Engagement Strategies for Hard-to-Reach Communities

Sunday, April 22, 2018 from 10:45 a.m. - noon CDT

Location: 230

CM | 1.25

Cost: Included in Registration

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC188079


  • How to use the communication plan process to set measurable goals, identify audiences, and use strategic messaging
  • Tools to reach diverse audiences, including traditional and new tools that make it easy for community members to participate
  • Why communication planning shouldn’t be an afterthought to the planning process, but an integral part of it


How do you engage people of color, millennials, non-English speakers, and others who don’t typically get involved in the planning process? This session will present strategies for reaching diverse and under-represented populations — and encouraging them to participate and become passionate about the visions proposed for their communities. The panelists will draw on their experiences at the Montgomery County (Maryland) Planning Department with a toolkit of innovative strategies, from interactive digital maps and pop-up events to morning coffees for local business owners and happy hour events. The department’s communications manager will present an overview of effective engagement strategies and outreach tools, including social media, videos, e-letters, online questionnaires, photo contests, bus-shelter ads, and mailings. A planner will relate her experiences in connecting with diverse populations along a busy transportation corridor through an onsite graphic artist, pop-up events at a shopping center, and engagements at a neighborhood festival and concert. A millennial Hispanic member of the Montgomery County Planning Board will explain her experiences in reaching out to people of color and members of civic institutions, senior centers, and churches, all of whom represent community interests but are often hard to reach.

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Session Speakers

Bridget Schwiesow
Montgomery County Planning Department

Renatta Algalarrondo
Annandale, Virginia

Jessica McVary, AICP
Washington, DC

Natali Fani-Gonzalez
Montgomery County Planning Board, Maryland
Silver Spring, MD

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