Prepare For Your Engagement

Publishing a document on Madison is simple, but truly impactful engagement with the public takes thoughtfulness and empathy from you.

What is your outreach plan?

  • Who should know that you are seeking feedback on this document and how do you plan to tell them? We suggest:
    • Journalists and the press
    • Civic and community groups
    • Academic institutions
    • Local meetups
    • Internal email lists
  • Which traditional or social media platforms can you use to invite constituents to use share feedback? We suggest:
    • Including the web address of the document in your outreach so that others can easily share it.
    • Writing a few example tweets (less than 140 characters) to help people share.
  • Are there other government officials or community partners with a different audience that can help promote engagement? We suggest:
    • People or organizations that care about this topic but are different in other ways like politics, industry, or geography.

Have you thought about timing?

  • When should we publish the document? We suggest:
    • Start when there is already energy around your topic.
    • Align your engagement with other types of engagement, such as public hearing or town hall events.
  • How long should the engagement period last? Put differently, how long do you want to accept comments on the document? We suggest:
    • Two weeks is often long enough to get good results and short enough to maintain momentum.

Have you considered how this looks?

  • Who exactly is asking the public for their opinion? This is communicated on your document by saying "Shared for feedback by [sponsor name]". We suggest:
    • Make the sponsor the person or organization that would be most appropriate and influential. For example, this could be a person like the Mayor or Chief Data Officer, or an organization like a city, a department, or nonprofit.
    • Make sure that you have buy-in from everyone involved. For example, don't attribute the engagement without getting the proper sign-offs.

Publish Your Document

  • After mapping out a successful engagement strategy and the sponsor has been approved, you can draft your document in Madison. Here's a quick start guide:

    • Head to your 'Sponsors' page by selecting it from the drop-down menu under your name
    • Click 'New Document'
    • Copy & Paste the plain text of your document
    • Click 'Save' (Note: don't change Publish State until you're ready for this document to be public.)
  • This will save your bare-bones document, but there's much more to do to make your engagement successful. We suggest:

    • Write a compelling introduction. This is the first thing people will read. The introduction should help them understand: 1) Who are you are and why you care about their opinion? 2) Why should they participate? Will it have any impact? 3) What are you going to do with their feedback?
    • Use headings. Headings make the document much easier to scan, especially if the document is long. Documents with headings also display an outline to help people navigate. You can add headings with the header buttons (H1, H2, and H3) in the toolbar.
    • Avoid (or define) jargon. Technical terms can be intimidating, so avoid them whenever possible. In the cases where it's unavoidable, define them by linking to a definition.
    • Advanced formatting. Madison uses Markdown to format documents. This Markdown guide is helpful if you need to do any advanced formatting.

Actively Participate

Publishing the document is just the beginning. Once it's published, you as a sponsor are responsible for creating and curating conversation. We suggest:

  • Who is monitoring the activity? Make sure that someone is clearly identified and that person will receive notifications (see notification settings).
  • Reply to comments. When appropriate, reply to comments. Constituents love knowing that you are really involved. Note that comments are from your account, not the sponsor account.
  • Moderate comments. Rarely someone will leave an inappropriate comment. To hide it, you (or any user) can flag it. Once flagged, you can hide any flagged comment using the administration interface.
  • Delegate. Multiple users can belong to a sponsor, so don't be afraid to delegate tasks.
  • Close the discussion. When the engagement period is over, close the discussion in the administration interface.