What stakeholder engagement specialists do
The first and hardest starting point for introducing Remarkable is explaining what it is exactly that we do. Followed by how our work provides real value to our clients. Known to the Americans as the 'elevator pitch', this is how we describe the work we do in one paragraph:
"We're a specialist stakeholder engagement and public consultation agency, predominantly working with developers to help secure planning consent for applications in a range of development sectors including residential, retail, energy, and waste. We provide political lobbying and engagement support and advice; compliant and transparent public consultation programmes; and supporter mobilisation."
Whilst this is our 'core' work and provides much of the day-to-day support we provide to our clients, there is, in reality, much more to it than this. The section below details a 'typical' day for our team in the Remarkable Manchester office.
8.30 to 10am
Team catch-up including a discussion of work for the next few days and client deadlines. Between us, the top jobs we have are: the launch a proposed new development; drafting application submission materials ; briefing planning committee members; and pulling together a strategy document for a new development site.
10am to Midday
Mid-morning and it's time to crack on. The strategy document is the place to start. Research on the political and community landscape of the area in and around a site helps us to suggest an approach to our client. On the surface, this one looks to be tough. It's an application for a residential development to a Conservative-controlled local authority whose members are known to be cautious of development on the whole. That said, a bit more research tells us that the authority's five-year housing supply is nowhere near the level it needs to be, and that the council is on the brink of being brought into special measures for non-determination, with successive appeals from developers having cost them dear.
What's the plan then? First off, the site falls within a fully Labour-controlled ward and, whilst the council is Conservative-controlled, this is only by a minority administration. This means that there are a number of Labour members on the planning committee to target, as well as the odd Liberal Democrat and Independent. The focus, then, is on presenting the scheme in the right way so that it's palatable to both Conservative and Labour members. For the Conservatives, this needs to be along the lines of showing them that housing needs to go somewhere within the borough. For Labour, it's about tapping into their Group policies on housing requirement and affordable housing.
1pm to 2pm
Following lunch (usually at our desks!), we have calls to make to planning committee members on the back of a briefing document which has been sent about an application that has been recommended for refusal, but has masses of demonstrable public support. We speak to the ward members, who mention they have been inundated with messages of support for the scheme from their constituents, which chimes with the response received by members of the committee more widely. (Jump ahead a week later and the committee has unanimously approved the application, with members publicly referencing the levels of public support received as part of their deliberation process.)
2pm to 4pm
Later in the afternoon, and it's on to turning round a raft of communications materials for the consultation and engagement on a forthcoming application including key messages to be used across all communications materials; a Q&A document; a community newsletter; public exhibition materials including display panels and feedback forms; and a press release. All of these need to be turned around within a few days to a high standard, which keeps our team on their toes.
4pm to 5.30pm
Tomorrow is a day off-site for one member of the team for a high-profile waste client at an existing facility. We've been brought in to provide specialist communications support at a local, regional and national level. As well as prepping for this, we've just heard from another client that their application has been validated by the local authority, which means we swiftly need to work on sending out a raft of submission materials. This includes letters to relevant local politicians and local residents to let them know and provide them (where relevant) with information on how they can contribute to the council's formal consultation on the application.
Home for the evening to start again afresh in the morning…
What then, makes all of the above possible? A dedicated, hard-working team with political nous, combined with a great organisational and communications skills, and a 'can do' attitude.
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