A well-used phrase of mine – which bewilders my kids – is: if a tree falls in a forest and no-one’s around to hear it, how do you know it’s fallen?
It’s not intended as a philosophical question. In a work context, it’s used to stress the importance of letting people know what you’re doing, rather than just doing it and expecting a response.
So, if you’re creating a website, let people know it’s there. If a council makes plans that affect people’s lives, telling them early and offering a chance to feedback should be part of that process.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? It is to us, and colleagues and clients work every day to engage the public on important things that affect their lives.
Looking more widely, however, there remains a gap created by complexity and exacerbated by a lack of awareness.
Continue reading “Why engagement needs to change”
Promoting the ‘value’ of development has been a standard approach for major projects for many years.
Statistics about investment, jobs and training opportunities are often used to generate headlines and online buzz.
After supporting projects for more than 15 years, I’ve seen how this can influence opinions towards a project when presented well. When set out using technical terms like ‘Gross Value Added (GVA) per capita’, it misses the mark, however.
But I’m getting the sense that its impact is on the wane, in the face of rising scepticism and changing views around what ‘value’ means.
Continue reading “Why social value must be at the heart of our places”
Anyone who’s worked in PR within government knows the drill when it comes to big announcements like the Prime Minister’s housing speech today.
The announcement to proposed changes to the dry-but-much-maligned area of planning policy followed some familiar and well-executed steps.
Continue reading “Four thoughts on the government’s housing story”
As business events go, the Severn Growth Summit at Celtic Manor was high profile judging by the response it generated.
I was one of about 350 people to attend the conference, which looked at how government can and businesses improve the economies around the West of England, Cardiff and Newport.
Welsh Secretary and Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns used the recent decision to abolish tolls on the Severn Bridge to press the case for a Western Powerhouse to drive growth across the areas. The comms teams should be delighted with the coverage this generated. I’ll come back to the powerhouse theme shortly.
There is more than a touch of symbolism to the tolls going. For those who use the bridge every day, it’s said by JLL’s Chris Sutton to be worth an extra £1,500 a year. There are 25m journeys made across the bridge each year and thousands of people use it on their daily commute. It’s a good example of how government action can make working between the three cities easier and more successful.
Continue reading “Thoughts from #SevernGrowthSummit: no ‘powerhouse’ needed”
Without putting too fine a point on it, developers’ reputations have had a challenging year.
I’ve been to a few public meetings lately where they’ve been criticised. It’s always been like this, especially when people don’t want development in their areas.
But it feels like the volume and tone of criticism has changed over the last year, as a growing range of issues has hit the mainstream. Land banking, executive pay, leasehold concerns, viability assessments and worries about the green belt are all in the headlines.
Continue reading “Reputation matters: how developers can build trust in their work”
“I am a man desperately in need of allies to help build the homes that we can agree are desperately needed in this country.”
Gavin Barwell, Housing Minister, 2 March 2017
I was in Taunton this week to see the housing minister’s white paper roadshow.
Gavin Barwell is at least the eighth housing minister I’ve seen in action since 2004. Five of those were on similar visits to the South West when I worked at the HCA.
To say that he’s inherited a tough gig is an understatement. The Housing White Paper has had a mixed response, which isn’t surprising for a sector with so many interested parties.
Continue reading “Three thoughts from the #housingwhitepaper roadshow”