How our thinking has developed
In little more than ten years, the world has witnessed tremendous change—unprecedented technological, economic and societal transformations. These changes have brought a fundamental redistribution of roles, accompanied by the gradual deconstruction of well-established architectures of power.
Respondents to the research acknowledge this, together with the potential that citizen engagement can play in helping authorities reconnect with the public, improve policy and services, reduce anti-government sentiment, and build trust. But achieving this is challenging in an era of falling levels of trust in government and public institutions.
Our research suggests that to rebuild trust, organisations need to ensure they create positive, relevant interactions with citizens. This means being more open, receptive and responsive. As one respondent noted, “trust is not one-way: citizens tend to trust authorities that trust them”.
Our view is that public authorities must empower the public to make and take decisions; use co-creation to help develop policies and services; and listen to what citizens say are their priorities and their expectations from government. But how?
Two years of extensive research has led us to the conclusion that good strategic engagement should be underpinned by a clear strategic framework. Several countries, including Taiwan and Canada, and multilateral organisations, such as the World Bank, have reached the same conclusion. Our own framework, developed jointly by the WPP Government and Public Sector Practice and Kantar Public, is based on key indicators that emerged from this research with both government communication practitioners and with citizens themselves.
We call this the 10C Framework and have identified three groups of factors that government communicators and policymakers should take into account when setting out to engage citizens.