At its core, ‘informing’ is the most elementary and simplest goal of an engagement process.

Within this context, informing is generally seen as one-way and primarily involves communicating information about an issue, decision, or process to citizens (DSE & DPI, 2013). It is important to note, (although the two terms are often conflated), that informing stakeholders, by itself, does not generally constitute effective engagement - engagement to be successful must go considerably beyond this minimum and unidirectional approach.

The most basic goal of informing should be to provide local citizens with clear and objective material on a specific situation in a manner that improves the citizens' understanding of the issue and potential solutions (DSE et al, 2013). A key to informing citizens is to provide them with the most balanced, impartial information as possible (DSE et al, 2013). The limiting characteristic of informing is that it generally does not allow for an exchange of ideas, discussion, dialogue or deliberation. Tools used to inform citizens include:

  • Fact Sheets - printed and widely available
  • Newsletters - printed and electronic
  • Websites - increases your ability to reach a wide range of stakeholders
  • Open houses - presentations, information sessions etc.
  • Public meetings - where limited input from stakeholders is allowed
  • Public hearings - where information is provided and an opportunity exists to voice concern but little or no discussion or dialogue occurs
  • Print and electronic media - newspaper, radio, TV etc.