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  • Colorado
  • Department of Local Affairs

How Colorado Is Building Credibility and Engaging Diverse Stakeholders

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Connecting with Colorado’s geographically and culturally diverse population can be difficult. But using the right engagement tools to craft a consistent, unified message is building the trust and confidence needed to find common ground on important issues.

“When it comes to engagement, the structure of (EngagementHQ) reporting has been a powerhouse for us. We’ve only started to scratch the surface.”
Cory Nicholson, Director of Communications, Colorado Department of Local Affairs


  • 16,000 visits to a single project page
  • 1,500 people signed up
  • 98 highly engaged community members
  • 81 questions submitted
Must have Granicus Solutions

A Mile High and Statewide

Like many states, Colorado has a host of initiatives at any given time in need of public feedback. Having the reach to connect with every stakeholder is key; but any engagement effort is limited if those constituents don’t trust the process or the communicator.

This is especially true when dealing with communities with diverse opinions and needs. Cory Nicholson, director of communications for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, cited implemention of the Proposition 123 project, which requires DOLA to increase affordable housing solutions by administering additional funding opportunities.

“The stakeholders are wide, very wide,” he said. “And they can all speak and have equal opportunity to ask questions, find the exact same information among other resource needs.”

Nicholson equated the effort to a pop-up boutique or food truck. The engagement might be temporary, but it still needs the standing and weight of established branding.

“If I can come to the website and see questions people are asking, it builds that confidence that people are communicating,” he said. “Then, it creates this level of brand recognition,” especially when community members see their leaders responding and getting involved in those conversations.


The Right Tools for Successful Engagement

Working with Granicus, Nicholson’s team created EngageDOLA.org and, within a year, had three projects in process with a fourth on the way. Nicholson plans to launch two more in short time, with the intention of ramping up to 10 engagement projects by early 2024.

“When it comes to digital engagement, you need a tool,” he said. “Think of it like a car: I can use a car to move dirt around, but the truth is, I need a truck.”

DOLA’s existing content management system—the car in this analogy—had some tools available but didn’t meet the accessibility and level of quality consumers have come to expect in the Digital Age.

“You have to use the right product because the expectation of the consumer, the savviness of the consumer will be turned off if you’re not using tools that work,” Nicholson said. “That’s the main driver for why we wanted to work with (EngagementHQ).”

Successful engagement is about more than just reaching many people at the same time. It’s also about consistency in message, as well as branding that message in a way that is recognizable and trustworthy.

“Using EngagementHQ, DOLA is able to centralize its engagement under one umbrella with uniform messaging,” he said.

Nicholson said DOLA has seen much better community engagement with some of the recent programs, including Proposition 123.

“We were able to stand up—quickly—the center focal point of one of the biggest housing initiatives the State of Colorado has had in a long time,” he said.

The effort is vast, with many interchangeable components, including funding elements, FAQ resources, public hearings and more.

“For Proposition 123, we’re driving people to our articles, our pulse surveys, our Q&As, all those things,” Nicholson said.


Timely Metrics Providing Deep Insights

The result has been more than 16,000 views to the Proposition 123 project page since it was stood up. That metric—while impressive for the effort—is something DOLA could get from standard website analytics. But with the EngagementHQ platform, Nicholson said his team can see deeper into the numbers to discover how many visitors are truly engaging with the content—and, in turn, engaging with the community.

What’s more, the EngagementHQ platform has enabled DOLA to show its work, particularly regarding mandates for community engagement. And DOLA has been able to view engagement from the reverse angle, as well: Which pieces of content are driving the conversation.

“We can see which articles people are using the most, and we can see that those articles are getting out to the people,” Nicholson said. “My stakeholders need things to be found quickly and easily.”