Local heritage activities often require input from members of the community for whom history and heritage are not priority issues. And for greater success, projects also often need to be developed in such a way as to engage different sectors of the community, sometimes even with an eye to the general public.

Sometimes an outreach and engagement strategy is developed to ensure that information created through a project or initiative is directed at the right audience, and contains the most effective messages for that audience. For example, a project that focuses on community-wide building conservation should involve local contractors and building owners at least in its planning and communication stages.

And sometimes an outreach and engagement strategy is developed so that a valued sector or partner in the community is made aware of key benefits of a project or initiative, and is persuaded to help out.Know how to communicate to different groups For example, a walking tour project will certainly benefit with the input of owners whose buildings are on the tour and also of business people whose sites might be noted for readers' attention – for the services they contain.

In both of these instances, it is essential that a heritage group carefully consider the kinds of communication approaches and messages that are needed for distinct groups and for distinct goals. You need to think about what these groups need to hear – what resonates for them.

The following entries provide some guidance on the kinds of issues that certain groups and sectors traditionally respond to.

Connecting with Youth

  • Youth, defined very broadly as from age 10 to 24, respond very positively to short emphatic messages – not pedantic or overly long; get to the point; be energetic
  • Most youth love computers and new phone technologies; they respond well to interactive communications
  • Wherever possible use images and graphics; youth are design savvy, so you might need a graphic designer for certain communication products
  • They are also savvy about communications, and all kinds of marketing/advertising approaches. Be authentic
  • They love music and news about entertainment – information or facts about these interests are occasionally useful as examples or anecdotes
  • Youth are concerned about the world and the future, and their place in it
  • The top 5 issues that concern young people are: poverty, the environment, global warming, the economy and war. Obviously not much about local heritage is relatable to most items on this list – but a focus on the environment, and how heritage fits into that theme via re-use, preservation and sustainability might be an approach to consider
  • Youth want to be part of the decision-making process; they want their voice to be heard

Connecting with Students

  • History and heritage are focuses in grades 5, 6 and 11, and thus to youth aged 10, 11 and 16
  • On-line curricula guides should be consulted to determine how a proposed project might profit from their initial involvement or how they might use a finished project
  • The entry in this section of the website, Education/School Curriculum, provides information on the kinds of subjects and issues that may be relevant for communication about local history and heritage.
  • Connecting with Teachers

    • As noted, given the curriculum requirements in Grades 5, 6 and 11, teachers of those classes should be a target audience. The target curricula content has already been noted above, but actually connecting with teachers is different from knowing the necessary curriculum features that work for them
    • Teachers are very busy, and you need to think about how a project you would like to feature will make their work easier, not harder
    • Consider offering to be a guest speaker, with a focus on a local theme that a teacher is presenting to their class
    • Consider developing a PowerPoint or smart-board presentation with a focus on a local heritage theme
    • A great deal of the information that can be developed through the projects identified in Collect the Facts/Model Projects, with their focus on local events, people and buildings, can be great resources for classroom settings.

    Connecting with Seniors

    • Seniors are not a monolithic group, of those aged over 65. There are at least two discrete groupings that should be considered for different communication strategies: those aged 65-74 and those aged 75 to 90
    • Seniors aged 65-74 typically will be more active and engaged. They still have a great deal to offer in terms of ideas and ability to work and contribute in projects from start to finish
    • Seniors aged over 75 typically will be more sedentary, but still with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that should be explored for information and advice
    • Many seniors prefer personal contact; consider this aspect in a communication approach
    • Younger seniors often want to have discrete roles – determine appropriate aspects of the project for them to carry out
    • Respect the time seniors may need to carry out their responsibilities for a project
    • Many seniors were raised in a more gracious, mannerly age. Be respectful
    • Seniors were also raised in an age of higher standards for grammar. Be careful in your communications
    • Seniors will also often have a very good knowledge of community history. Ensure that communications are accurate and that facts and dates are correct.
    • Many seniors require large print communication formats

    Connecting with Baby Boomers

    • The Baby-boom generation, born between 1946 and 1965, can be considered a subset of the Seniors grouping, with the oldest of the Boomers in their late 60s. The youngest of the Boomers are in their late 40s
    • Baby-boomers are a population sector primed for an interest in history and heritage. They are just at an age when family history, genealogy and community history have real relevance for them. These subjects become important means by which they situate their own lives and experiences into a meaningful context
    • They are also eager to keep contributing in meaningful ways. And so they are a major resource for history and heritage activities
    • But they also are busy, and even though many Boomers are primed for a connection to heritage, they also will have competing volunteer opportunities
    • You should consider developing messages and communication materials that can help persuade them of the real value they could bring to local heritage work
    • Think about the variety of skills they may have that you need in the community – planning, management, marketing
    • Consider focusing on the subjects of legacy and of passing this legacy to the next generation
    • Think about connecting to the history and heritage of their youth – thus the 1950s and 1960s. Even develop research and interpretation projects that focus on this period
    • Focus on newly retired teachers and others in the educational field. Their familiarity with a variety of communication approaches and learning techniques are resources not to be misse

    Communicating with Politicians

    • Local politicians are extremely busy people. They often are dealing with a welter of other local issues that have great effects on budgets and quality of life – health care, roads, sewers, business development
    • But they are also essential allies in the development of strong and effective local heritage work. They have obvious platforms for influence and direction, and so ensuring that they understand and value local heritage activity is essential
    • And while heritage will generally be viewed in a positive light, it is good to be realistic about its level of priority
    • For many local politicians, immediate issues related to heritage will be about costs, values and benefits. And easy responses will focus on the value of heritage for tourism and on the opportunities to build on the local quality of life – via volunteer activity, strengthening community identity, and buildings lasting connections to youth via heritage promotion
    • The previous entry in this section, Key Heritage Messages, contains some useful information for these purposes
    • Local politicians usually want to do the right thing, but they also often look at the bottom line – so don't take too long to get to the bottom line: Will it cost the municipality anything? And if so, who will bear the costs; how will costs be recouped?
    • Facts are good, and so are numbers and statistics; use information from other sources and other places. Compare and contrast local work with other communities
    • Keep them in the loop. Consider annual or semi-annual presentations on recent heritage work, especially on successes

    Communicating with Municipal Officials

    • Certain municipal officials can be key resources for the development of effective local heritage activity
    • But like local politicians, municipal officials—including chief administrative officers (CAOs), economic development officers (EDOs), planners and tourism officials—will often be busy on other pressing community business
    • Consider which official is best suited for outreach and involvement
    • Tourism officials obviously will be interested in building and promoting good heritage attractions. Their knowledge about communications and marketing can be very useful for certain heritage projects. And of course their ability to promote and connect to other communities will be very helpful
    • EDOs can help with business plans, general planning and marketing issues. They will have an eye out for the kinds of business/financial aspects that may be contained in certain heritage projects
    • CAOs will have a deep understanding about processes and procedures required for getting messages effectively to councils
    • Planners will be interested in projects that involve building issues – designations, conservation work, heritage districts
    • All of these officials will appreciate the same kind of outreach and communication approaches used for politicians – via messages that are effective and concise
    • At the same time, do not expect officials to be your champion – they are important partners and vital messengers. But it is still the local heritage community that needs to develop ideas, consider project options, and do the lion's share of the work.

    Communicating with Business People

    • Local business people can be key partners for heritage activity. They are often invested in any project that helps bring potential customers into the community: commemorations, events, ceremonies, heritage sites, etc
    • A key role business people can fulfil is to provide advertising – either paid or merely as a location for notices, posters, etc
    • If you are interested in their greater involvement, as advisors or investors, it is essential to consider the communication approaches that are most effective. As with local politicians and municipal officials, this comes down to simplicity, brevity and clarity
    • You will quickly need to get at the values, benefits and costs
    • At the same time, many business owners should be considered for real activity on heritage projects. They are can-do people, with specific skill sets. Their knowledge of sales, marketing, customer service and human nature can be invaluable

    Connecting with the Media

    • Local media are vital partners for developing and communicating heritage messages and information
    • Given that they are amongst the experts on communications, local media should be contacted as often as possible – to disseminate information but also to consult on approaches
    • When pitching a story, consider the kinds of material that resonates with them. They usually do not want simple facts and figures. They want an angle, a hook. They prefer a human interest angle – a person they can actually talk to and quote. If possible, connect them to articulate local communicators
    • Because they are busy and on deadline, it is sometimes useful to have pre-packaged background materials they can use as sidebars or for quotes. If you can include images in a package that is always a good idea
    • Local media will be completely up to date on digital/computer technologies. Information should be developed with this in mind. At the same time, this expertise should be explored for volunteer activity on heritage projects
    • Develop your group as a resource on local heritage issues – for information and story ideas

    Connecting with the General Public

    • The general public is very interested in heritage news, issues, subjects and stories
    • They are drawn in interesting facts
    • They enjoy reading about subjects viewed in a new light
    • They like useful information – for example about building conservation or research
    • They like human interest stories, where a person is the focus and where heritage forms the background
    • They will be interested in information on upcoming events
    • Stories that show how heritage is building up the community will be appreciated
    • Profiles on local heritage activists would be welcome