Success stories

How a flourishing Southern California city used EngagementHQ to prioritize and enhance engagement with its residents

increase in reach to Spanish speakers in first year
82.5% open rate
open rate for EngagementHQ newsletters
28 projects
in centralized information hub
on average per month

Considered the “cultural and retail center of the desert communities,” Palm Desert is a vibrant, growing city rich in outdoor treasures and nestled in the Coachella Valley of Southern California. As local priorities evolve along with changing community demographics, city leadership recognized the need to engage more robustly with the public.

The city’s leaders sought a digital solution that would introduce new community engagement methods and enhance the communication balance between the quickly developing northern portion of the city and the retail and historical center in the south. Palm Desert leaders established their motivation for community engagement and defined five key goals:

  • Get more people involved in key projects and programs
  • Expand reach to those not traditionally participating in the civic process
  • Enhance community trust and well-being while encouraging constructive dialogue
  • Increase staff efficiency
  • Create a central location for community stakeholders to find information on city initiatives

Once these goals were defined, leadership decided to implement EngagementHQ as the digital solution needed to bring information to residents throughout the community.


Improving Efficiencies While Engaging a Changing Community

Palm Desert had traditionally been known as a retirement community and “snowbird” destination but, in recent years, has seen a shift toward more “full-time” residents who skew about ten years younger on average. Like many cities, Palm Desert used traditional, time-consuming methods like phone calls, emails, social media, and community events and meetings to engage with the community. With a growing population of about 53,000 and a boom in both housing and commercial developments, Palm Desert city leaders saw the importance of moving toward a digital platform to reach its evolving community.

Establishing an online repository for projects has advanced internal efficiencies as well. Before creating an EngagementHQ site, the City received a high volume of project-based emails and phone calls. Engage Palm Desert has freed up staff time and created a space for the Mayor and City Council to direct the public when approached about projects around town.


Building Connections and Promoting Transparency with EngagementHQ

Implementing EngagementHQ in Palm Desert helped transform communication in the community. This robust digital solution became a powerful resource for community stakeholders, including residents, businesses, and the media. The city’s EngagementHQ site, Engage Palm Desert, served as a repository for clear, concise facts, which helped create transparency about ongoing projects in the community.

Each page on Engage Palm Desert was built to be clean, simplistic, visually stimulating, and approachable; leaders were careful not to make the website heavy with language. With a large colorful banner at the top of the homepage and links to all project pages, the City’s municipal website, its tourism website, and a link to other newsletters, the site has a streamlined, user-friendly experience.

As the site continues to grow and evolve, it has become an essential resource for Palm Desert staff. Reports are generated by staff in EngagementHQ to analyze site traffic information and monitor traffic sources in an effort to identify future communication points and as a quick way to share engagement data about projects at various meetings. With nearly 40 staff members granted access to EngagementHQ, it helps collaboration amongst internal departments to ensure timely, cohesive, and consistent responses to resident questions.

“[Engage Palm Desert] helped increase transparency and foster relationships with individuals who felt unable to speak up. [It] revolutionized our processes.”
Ryland Penta
Digital Strategies Coordinator, City of Palm Desert

Improved Processes Lead to Greater Outreach, Strengthened Engagement

As part of its commitment to be inclusive and reach groups who typically do not participate in civic processes, Palm Desert created Spanish language project pages and also uses the Google Translate tool to help staff communicate with diverse audiences. City leaders recognize EngagementHQ as an important component in reaching that goal.

The EngagementHQ solution has also helped Palm Desert push out timely, factual information and gain more trust in the community. Palm Desert is home to the only shopping mall in the area, and the shopping center’s redevelopment had been a topic of rumors amongst the community. Through EngagementHQ, city leaders created a page dedicated to the mall, which helped evolve those conversations by reducing misinformation, gaining trust in the City’s approach to project management, and created a space for easy and open community dialogue.

As more residents opt-in to city updates, Palm Desert leaders have found an opportunity to target information to the audiences seeking it. EngagementHQ newsletters have a nearly 83% open rate, much higher than other communication methods. To capitalize on that interest, Palm Desert officials plan to provide quarterly updates to keep engagement with residents.

“Engage Palm Desert is a great way to build a new form of dialogue around civic processes.”
Ryland Penta
Digital Strategies Coordinator, City of Palm Desert

Watch the Webinar to learn more and hear from the team at Palm Desert

Discover More Success Stories


Ready to deliver exceptional outcomes?

Book a demo