Engaging with stakeholders can be a particularly daunting task, especially if you are unsure how they will react to you dropping them a call for the first time. Nevertheless, it is something that can have great benefits in the short term, and build relationships that work long into the future. So what are the unwritten rules?
Do your homework
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to know who you are speaking to, and doing thorough research can go a long way to helping develop a comprehensive strategy. Some local councillors toe the party line; others have a more independent approach to local politics. When speaking to senior members in particular it’s important to understand the political relationships, and who calls the shots.
Get in there early
Even if noises were good a pre-application meetings, it’s important that stakeholders are made aware of any plans. If they are a local politician, or community representative, they will appreciate being made aware of what is being proposed on their patch: it makes their life a lot easier if they are ever asked about it by local residents.
Keep people updated
Once contact has been made, it is vitally important to make sure that stakeholders are kept up to date as the application progresses. The planning process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it should do, and if relationships have been built upon from an early stage, then they may be willing to offer assistance if problems arise, whether that be an issue with the whole development, or a single onerous condition.
In general, people like it when people are nice to them. If you’ve worked with a stakeholder who has been particularly helpful, a short phone call or a quick email thanking them for support doesn’t take much time, but it will let them know you are sincere about any help they have offered. If you ever work with them again, that five minutes could go a long way.
While throrough engagement can clearly help in the short term, if it is repeated time and again then it will enhance reputations and become great PR. We have worked with developers who do this on pretty much all of their sites, and have heard them being talked about favourably as an example of how to work with parish councils, councillors, and other stakeholders.
Remarkable has great experience in delivering successful stakeholder engagement campaigns. For more advice on how we can help, please click here.