Partnerships can be critical to engagement efforts: They can connect you with new networks – and often can help you build trust with people who historically have been disconnected or have viewed news organizations with suspicion. Do a scan of the community to identify which groups are viewed as credible and connected. Often, you’ll find community organizations that are already actively engaged in the issues you wish to cover, have established networks, and enjoy trust with the community to enable you to access the people and information. Community partners usually know best who to contact and how to contact them.
Partners can take on various roles, such as co-sponsoring events, recruiting participants for focus groups or community forums, or serving as moderator or facilitator. Partnering with a skilled facilitator can take the burden off of the newsroom and give the conversation greater depth and breadth than if it was led by a reporter or editor. Inviting a group of interested experts to provide feedback on your coverage, such as through an advisory board, is also a great way to leverage external expertise.
This approach can result in a reinforcing loop: Newsrooms have found that once solutions stories produce a positive reaction from the community, even more doors to partners, organizations, and people swing open.
Relevant Case Studies:
“The solutions component is providing a way to involve the now-more-interested public in a richer conversation. The sense among our local elected officials, from the mayor to city council people, is that [our story] has opened doors that need to be opened for a larger conversation.”