How can we be sure we’re on the right track?

As communications professionals, it’s important to know what our audiences are thinking and what is important to them. Too often we are wrapped up in our own echo chambers and it’s vital to make sure we are listening outside of them as much as possible. We all know how difficult it is to gauge public sentiment and to reach people where they are, especially with a limited budget. How can we be sure we’re on the right track?

My day job is in communications at the City of Wichita. We recently released the results of their 2022 National Community Survey, which is notable for a couple of reasons. The city has been participating in these surveys since 2006 but this is the first time the results have been made publicly available. In fact, not only is the data is posted on the city’s website at in both printable PDF and searchable interactive formats, but the city has invested in an easierto-parse external Wichita Resident Survey Insights Dashboard to intentionally facilitate access to this information for other community organizations and businesses.

Why do I think this is important to share with WPC? Because a lot of the insights gleaned from the survey data lead to broader questions we should be asking about our community. Take this compelling disparity, for example: Satisfaction with Wichita as a place to live is up, but fewer residents are satisfied with the direction that the city is headed. 83% of survey respondents provided a positive response (“good” or “excellent”) to the question asking them to rate their satisfaction with Wichita as a place to live. This figure is up 9 percentage points from 2020, a statistically significant increase. However, the share of positive responses to the question asking residents to rate the “overall direction that Wichita is taking” declined from 52.7% to 45%. Residents responding positively to “Wichita as a place to live” has remained flat at 74% in 2016, 2018, and 2020. This uptick in 2022 provides a strong indication that Wichita remains a great place to live; however, fewer residents are satisfied with the direction the city is going, down from its peak in 2018. Additionally, only 7% of African American survey respondents are satisfied with Wichita’s direction.

Combine that with the trend of “connection and engagement with the community over time” (50.5% in 2018, 40.1% in 2020 and 37.9% in 2022) and one could surmise that Wichita residents are feeling more disconnected – and that we can’t blame it all on COVID.

I was sad to see The Chung Report platform end in 2021 but I believe that we, as communicators, have the power to foster connection and change in our community through storytelling and inspiration that parks aspiration. I hope that you will all take the time to go down the rabbit hole into data land and think about what small shifts we can make to impact our own perceptions and civic pride.

 – Naomi Shapiro, 2023 WPC President

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *