Eat. Sleep. Engage. Repeat.

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Property development is a complex world. The process for obtaining planning approvals is complicated and confusing, communications is focused on marketing a product that doesn’t exist yet, and it feels like roadblocks appear at every turn.

This complex landscape, paired with tight time-frames, has major impacts on one of the most important aspects of property development…community engagement. In the communications industry, we see this critical activity slip through the cracks time and time again. More often than not, it’s an activity to tick a box, or it’s completely swept under the rug and forgotten about.

Unfortunately, a failure to proactively and meaningfully engage with key stakeholders and the community often becomes a property developer’s biggest bugbear. Enter the snowball effect…false and misrepresented project information starts circulating, the community activates and forms opposition groups, and in flood the submissions opposing your development.

If experience is anything to go by, it is critical to ensure that community engagement forms part of the property development sector’s DNA – here’s what you need to do.

Face the facts.

This one is simple. Reduce the risk of misinformation by disseminating project facts and key information to the community.

The key here is sharing information in an easy-to-understand and timely manner, which ensures the community is informed and educated on the development. Information may come in the shape of a project landing page, a fact sheet, FAQs, a community letter or a media release. No matter what form it takes, get your information out there!

Tackle the issues before they tackle you!

Inevitably, there will be members of the community who oppose your development, so why not turn skeptics into advocates? By collaborating with the community and listening to them, you will be better placed to identify and address community concerns, debunk project myths and determine the best way to tackle the issues.

This activity can potentially prevent opposition groups forming and reduce the number of negative submissions that oppose your development, in turn minimising delays to your approval.

Control your messaging.

Meaningful community engagement is more than a public relations exercise, but that’s not to say that organisations shouldn’t leverage media to showcase their proactive approach to engagement.

By doing some upfront work with media, you can ensure your community engagement efforts are seen, and generate some positive PR. It also provides an opportunity to maintain control over your messaging and what is being published.

Tick all the boxes!

To achieve the best outcomes, you need to utilise best practice. Councils provide DA Community Engagement Guidelines to show their expectations around how consultation processes should be managed.

By following the guidelines and ticking all of the Council’s minimum requirements, your organisation will be much better placed for the approvals process.

Build community ties.

Humans are naturally social creatures, so it’s no wonder face-to-face engagement is one of the most successful tactics! Hosting an engagement booth or an information session puts a human face on your company, helping to build trust and establish meaningful community ties.

What are your tried-and-tested tips? Let us know in the comments below!  

Are you in the property development sector and looking for a community engagement partner? P4 Group can help! Give us a call on (07) 3854 1455 or click here to contact us via our website.