Australia Stakeholder Management Specialist, Penny Townley visit to COMM346

“Social media is a valuable tool not only to identify issues and key stakeholders on a project but also to enhance public participation thereby create positive and solid relationship with them”, said Penny Townley of Penny Townley’s Environment Services.

Ms Townley, COMM346’s honored Guest Speaker (29-30 Sept 2016), flew from Brisbane, Australia to lecture on “Australian infrastructure and social media.”

Throughout her extremely valuable lecture, Ms. Townley shared her more than three decades of experience in the field as an executive leader in communication.  Amongst other aspects she outlined major frameworks for stakeholder engagement models applicable to various projects including the International Association for Public Participation Spectrum. She explained and discussed how social media development has facilitated two-way engagement with key stakeholders. And – along with key guiding principles and frameworks – she elaborated on the role of social media in not only engaging the public, but also reflecting their voice, in the many infrastructure projects occurring such as Australia’s Sydney Metro, Northwest Rail Link and Barangaroo.

Ms Townley focuses on the key value of social media, especially in building understanding about the value of the project, as a listening post and educative communication tool, and in tackling the severity of crisis via social media trending during the disaster.

Of high interest during her extended lecture, Ms. Townley enlightened COMM346 about how digital media tools have contributed to online public or civic engagement needs. An example was the online consultation solution EngagementHQ, dedicated to helping government and private sector organizations to provide meaningful voice to their citizens. In 2015 alone, Bang the Table’s software EngagementHQ was used in 2000+ online citizen participation projects in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PPaq3e7m2U)

Ms Townley also introduced AtHoc, a secure enterprise platform for crisis communication within and across organizations for personnel safety and business resilience. (http://www.athoc.com/)

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Ms. Townley’s work spans infrastructure, environment, planning, education, health, social and professional services, etc. She contributes to the industry’s professional standards and is one of six authors of Valuing Better Engagement, the Consult Australia guide to tendering for engagement services (published December 2013). COMM346 appreciates Penny Townley’s wonderful and generous guest lecture, and with it her sparkling enthusiasm for, and warmth towards young future professionals in academics!

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