MKO’s Project Communications team has considerable experience managing public and community consultation events across several sectors, including education, housing, and renewable energy to include wind, solar and battery storage projects.
In the past, developers weren’t required to or didn’t see the need to engage with local stakeholders or near neighbours on smaller projects, but the landscape has changed. Now planners are asking what plans are in place for public/community consultation, and near neighbours and local stakeholders are hungry for information. In the absence of these types of events, a communications vacuum can quickly develop, where misinformation, myths and untruths can flourish. We recently project managed the delivery of a public information event for a proposed solar energy farm.
Our strategic approach led to a satisfied client and a community provided with accurate information and answers to their questions.
Our 10-step approach
- Prep – To deliver a successful event, we set about preparing the necessary collateral. This included technical and information posters, photomontages, a newspaper advert, a press release, and a flyer to distribute to local houses.
- Research – We researched the local area to find out if there were any local opposition groups to renewable projects active in the area.
- Booking – We sourced a suitable local location and booked it for our event.
- Advertising/media – We advertised the event in the local newspaper. This was supplemented with a press release outlining the project’s benefits and encouraging interested locals to come along and find out more.
- Leaflet drop – We delivered an invitation door-to-door to all households within 2km of the proposed site. This provided a further opportunity to speak to anyone who was home.
- Elected reps – We issued an update and email invite to the councillors in the local Municipal District and the TDs and Senators representing that county. Some had queries, which we managed on behalf of the client and ensured they were kept informed of progress.
- Event management – We engaged the services of a reputable event management company we work with regularly to supply a large screen TV to play an explainer video and also boards for hanging our posters in an organised and structured manner.
- Admin – We provided sign-in sheets, comment sheets/box and other admin support for the event.
- Management plan – We drafted an event management plan to ensure all staff attending, both client and consultant, were aware of their roles and what they should do should certain scenarios arise.
- Attendance– Two members of our Project Communications team attended the event to ensure the setup ran smoothly, there were refreshments for staff to take care of administration and to meet and greet our guests.
You can go big and techy for a public consultation event or stick to basics. This event landed somewhere in the middle. But we never lost sight of several key points:
Our purpose – is to inform, be transparent, and gather information.
Put a face to the project – meet the project’s near neighbours and interested stakeholders, shake their hands, listen to their comments and concerns, and answer their questions.
Follow-up – ensure our guests knew how to follow up with us if they had new questions and all the communication channels available to them.
Assess – assess the information we gathered from this in-person event and adapt our proposals where appropriate.
If you would like to discuss how public and community consultation can assist your project, please get in touch with Toni Bourke, Project Director, Project Communications Director.