LONDON: E-consultancy, a publisher of best practice reports for the internet industry, has released a new guide to help increase participation in public consultations.

The report, based on feedback from a recent roundtable on ‘E-consultation’, addresses the need to enhance traditional consultations, where less than one in twenty affected individuals normally takes the time to submit feedback outlining their concerns or ideas.

There is a major opportunity to use interactive channels – the web, mobile and interactive TV – to boost participation levels. By allowing people to respond via the channel that suits them best, an increase in response rates is virtually guaranteed.

The key ways of using digital to harness response are:

• Forums and message boards. Roundtable attendees had experienced great success with message boards, which have contributed as much as 50% of all comments in real consultations.

• SMS and email alerts are an excellent way of furthering participation and discussion.

• Rich media tools can play a part in the storytelling process, so be sure to provide audio and video files. Rich media can also help disabled individuals learn about the project.

• Games are a great way of helping people understand the various choices that they are facing, to allow them to make informed decisions.

• Online polls and questionnaires are easy to configure and cost effective (much cheaper than sending market researchers into the high street).

• Blogs allow people to chronicle their views over the duration of a consultation, while also encouraging other participants to comment on entries.

• Digital storytelling. Kiosks can be set up to capture feedback, or, people with access to webcams can contribute remotely. The BBC has proved that this is a viable means of capturing the views of the public.

• Webcasts. Offline meetings can be streamed live and archived for people to tune into at a later date.

Roundtable attendees unanimously agreed that these channels should not replace face-to-face surveys and town hall meetings, but digital should be used to complement the traditional consultation process.

The major advantages of using E-consultation tools are increased reach, visibility and transparency, cost efficiencies, speed and accessibility.

More information can be found in E-consultancy’s exclusive guide to E-consultation: The roundtable focused on property consultations, but the digital tools suggested can be used to power all kinds of E-consultations.

The UK government has published guidelines on best practice for public consultations:

Individual subscribers pay just £99 per year to access the full range of exclusive content featured on E-consultancy.

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Images of the publication, screenshots of E-consultancy and photographs are available of Ashley Friedlein upon request.

About E-consultancy:

Since 1999 E-consultancy has provided UK e-business and marketing professionals with access to the best information and advice to help them get the most out of interactive channels:

* Information - Specially commissioned reports, white papers and guides as well as 100,000+ pages of articles, case studies and features from leading sources.

* Advice - Exclusive roundtable events, Beauty Parades, bespoke training courses, seminars, expert forums and a network of specialist e-business consultants.

E-consultancy charges for individual subscriptions and multi-user corporate membership as well as for bespoke training and research work. E-consultancy has over 23,000 registered users, 30% of whom are CEOs, Directors or Senior Management.

E-consultancy was co-founded in 1999 by Ashley Friedlein and Matthew O'Riordan. Ashley is a twice best-selling Internet author. E-consultancy's shareholders include Philip Redding, former Managing Director of Wheel, which he helped grow to the largest UK new media agency.

About Ashley Friedlein, CEO,

Ashley Friedlein began his career in digital media at Pearson and Bloomberg, before becoming Lead Strategist at Wheel, where he successfully managed the development, delivery and ongoing maintenance of several major Internet sites, in particular for media owners.

Ashley is also the author of the books "Web Project Management: Delivering Successful Commercial Web Sites" and "Maintaining and Evolving Successful Commercial Web Sites: Managing Change, Content, Customer Relationships and Site Measurement" [Publishers Elsevier Science & Technology Books].

---Contact Information---

Chris Lake
Editor, E-consultancy
0207 0718612

Published on: 12:00AM on 13th September 2004