Methods of engagement
With any new scheme, no matter how controversial, there is always a need to engage with an audience. Whether you are updating local neighbours or identifying supporters, engagement is key to a successful planning application. But how exactly should you engage with an audience? Remarkable gives you some advice…
A well written, simple newsletter can be a cheap and effective method of engaging with an audience. Most commonly, newsletters are used as a means of updating an audience or keeping them informed of your plans. Telling residents exactly what you’re up to can help prevent the spread of misinformation and ensure transparency throughout the planning process.
Another benefit of newsletters (as long as you use a trustworthy distributor) is that you have the peace of mind that it will be delivered exactly when and where you need it.
Although newsletters can be fairly cheap, the wider the coverage area, the sooner the costs can rise. As such, a website can be a more sensible approach for engaging with larger audiences. The other obvious benefit is that a website can provide larger amounts of information than a simple one or two page newsletter. Websites provide the opportunity for developers to include images of the plans and a feedback option which can save money on pre-paid postcards or feedback forms.
Websites also provide you with an opportunity to monitor traffic and social media, providing a useful insight into what people find interesting and how long they stay on particular pages. Websites and analytics bring you a wealth of resource, just make sure to use them.
Private one-to-one meetings are an effective means of engagement which allow developers to communicate with residents on an individual basis. It encourages dialogue between two parties and can often be a useful way of overcoming objections and explaining the hard benefits of any scheme. Further to this, attendees can go through detailed plans and discuss personal matters which can encourage developers and residents to work together for the good of both parties. Particularly useful on controversial schemes, one-to-one meetings can ensure effective engagement which residents value as they get dedicated time to talk through the plans.
The holy grail of public engagement, public exhibitions provide face-to-face contact with stakeholders and allow you to display plans, chat through details and answer any questions that may arise. Public exhibitions are expensive, but for any major scheme they are simply a must. They provide a prime opportunity to measure public opinion and present developers opportunities to overcome any objections. They can also be key for discovering supporters who can become advocates for your scheme.
These days planning committees are always eager to see developers engaging with an audience, and as such, a public exhibition has become an expectation. Any major scheme is likely to face considerable criticism if a public exhibition isn’t carried out.
Other engagement methods?
There are plenty of other engagement methods available, ranging in cost, time and effectiveness. To discuss the above methods in more detail or how we can help you engage with your audience and the other methods available, you can call us on 0161 359 4123.
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