Without public support, it can be difficult for CRAs to make progress. Without knowing what the public wants, it can be difficult to gain that support. We recommend creating and using online surveys to fully understand what redevelopment efforts residents want while establishing communication and trust with business leaders, elected officials and more.
Step One: Plan Your Survey
Before getting answers, decide what the survey should achieve. Will your survey be used to get opinions about previous projects or future developments? Will the results help gather support from elected officials or promote awareness of local businesses? Plan by figuring out the type of information you need most and who will provide the best answers. Will your survey target businesses, politicians, local residents or simply anyone in the community? How long will the survey be open, and how will you use the information? Answering these questions is the first step in survey creation. It is vital to design your survey around a specific audience and goal.
Step Two: Set Up Your Survey Online
Unless you plan on using paper surveys (which are beneficial, yet much more difficult to target specific audiences and calculate results with), you’ll need to sign up for an online polling site. A few popular options are Survey Monkey, EasyPolls, and Poll Maker. Survey Monkey is free for polls with up to 10 questions and 100 responses. For more than that, they provide several different plans that include help and support. EasyPolls is free, however some extra features such as location-based polls cost money. Poll Maker is completely free, but not quite as feature-rich. If you’re unsatisfied with these three, a quick Google search will yield even more online polling programs. Research your options and select the best site for your CRA’s needs.
Step Three: Plan Your Questions
To begin, write down a short list of questions you need answers to. Don’t know what to ask? Think about what the relevant issues are in your region and what people are most passionate about. While you want to get as much info as possible, it’s best to keep your survey below 20 questions. This ensures participants do not become overwhelmed or lose interest. When drafting questions, think about your initial planning. What questions will be most valuable to participants, and most valuable to your efforts? Asking questions about previous projects will allow residents to share their opinions and make them know you value their opinions. What could have been done better? What do they love about the finished project? Asking questions about future projects will help you plan and strategize for future redevelopment. This will show the CRA values the community’s opinion and is constantly looking for ways to improve.
You also need to decide how the questions will be asked. Using yes or no answers gives you a simple data set to analyze, but may not give you a full picture. Spectrum answers such as “Strongly Agree – Strongly Disagree” give you a higher degree of detail, but will be more difficult to compile. Examine your CRA’s capabilities before deciding how in-depth your survey questions will go. You should also include basic demographic questions such as neighborhood, gender, age, income level and profession. For demographic questions, it is important to include an answer that states “Prefer Not to Answer” so people don’t feel forced to reveal their personal information. Finally, make the survey anonymous so participants are truthful and genuine.
Step Four: Execute Your Survey
Once your survey is set up online, it’s time to start collecting data. Social media and email blasts are tools to help spread the word about your survey. You can also set up a booth, a laptop or a tablet at local events and let people fill it out in real time. Share the survey continuously throughout its lifespan. Set up a limited timeframe for the survey and make sure people know when the deadline is. That will encourage people to act quickly and result in a higher number of responses. You also can offer rewards, such as coupons for local restaurants or stores, to increase participation.
Step Five: Analyze the Results
Once the survey is completed, it’s time to look at the data. With the tools available on various polling websites, you don’t need a degree in statistics to be able to sort through the collected data. The three websites mentioned let you see your survey results in neatly organized graphs that are easily exportable to presentations and other documents. They even let you sort the data based on custom criteria such as demographic information or answers to certain questions. This can give you a detailed report of the feedback your CRA received. Use the data you gather to present positive results to city officials, plan new campaigns and initiatives, learn about your constituency and better serve your local region. Survey results also can be newsworthy and shared with the media via a press release to generate news coverage of its outcome.
Need assistance creating or implementing an online survey? Please contact Jessie Johnson, FRA’s account executive at RB Oppenheim Associates. RB Oppenheim Associates is an integrated marketing and communications firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. RB Oppenheim Associates can provide numerous services for your CRA such as advertising, social media management, web development and more. Public relations counseling and advice is included in your FRA Membership. You can also ask a question on MyFRA to get quick answers to specific problems from your peers.