Blog

Addressing common challenges in consultation

19 October 2020

Opposing factors and risks are common to public participation: the very notion that developers bring change to established local communities; the wide-ranging views which exist within a community; the sentiment of those wary of engagement and exponents of it. Significant time and financial resources are expended with no guarantee that the investment will be realised, […]

Change in property communications

12 October 2020

My recent blogs have described both the external and internal forces shaping the property sector, and therefore the role of property PR.  I now go on to consider the way in which PR itself is changing the way in which we work. As very chapter of my book Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice, […]

The future of consultation in planning

09 October 2020

My book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide looks in detail at the way in which consultation has changed so far this century.  From an increased use of co-production resulting in a more qualitative approach, to significant advancements in online consultation, change has been substantial. Looking ahead, is consultation likely […]

The evolving role of the property PR practitioner

02 October 2020

Today’s PR consultants are brand ambassadors, social media experts, data analysts, content marketers, crisis managers, boardroom advisers and trend spotters in addition to the tasks associated with their traditional role and there is undoubtedly greater integration between PR, digital and marketing functions. Taking into account the wide range of responsibilities, communications tools and tactics that […]

The changing role of the property professional and the role of PR

14 September 2020

Much has been written about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the property profession. There is no question that data acquisition has become significantly more efficient as a result of technology, and there is concern that this could result in substantial change to some professions. Now more than ever, property companies must become agile […]

Consultation challenges

11 September 2020

Understanding of the potential challenges from the outset is necessary in order for them to be addressed – so what are the reasons for common problems? Access Failure to engage with a wider audience, specifically the ‘hard to reach,’ and to gain responses from the ‘silent majority’. Apathy and consultation fatigue. Clarity A lack of […]

Change in the property media

01 September 2020

No media has been immune from the online revolution which has led to the replacement of paper with digital, the rise of blogs, video and podcasts and the introduction of interactive forums and infographics. In a survey carried out by Cision UK, only 8% of the PR consultants questioned said that they now meet journalists […]

The content explosion: a challenge and an opportunity for property PR

27 August 2020

The amount of data being produced each day is growing exponentially: according to Science Daily over the last two years alone 90 per cent of the current data in the world has been generated. Partly due to the ease of posting information online, the amount of content produced by property consultancies has increased considerably. A […]

Maintaining good local relationships post-planning consent

10 August 2020

With pre-planning consultation complete and planning consent won, a significant amount of public participation has been accomplished. But as the project moves into the construction phase, community engagement too enters a new phase. Inclusive and engaging consultation creates a foundation for the next stage of public participation. But rather than a continuation of the work […]

The importance of research in consultation

05 August 2020

Ideally the early stage of strategy formation in a consultation programme should assess the context of the consultation as broadly as possible to ensure that all factors are taken into account. Useful methods for situational analysis are the PEST (political, economic, social, and technological) and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) methods. Stakeholder analysis is central […]

Selling a property service

03 August 2020

In the property industry we are used to promoting bricks and mortar. This has the benefit of a geographical location and ‘milestones’ such as planning consent, public consultation events, ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘topping out’ celebrations. When promoting the attributes of a property consultancy – that is, the ability to provide property advice, we are rarely involved […]

An increasingly litigious scene for consultation

31 July 2020

So far this century, we have experienced a huge increase in the number of consultations ending up in the courts. The Consultation Institute, specifically its two-day The Law of Consultation training course, provides a very comprehensive overview. Several of the examples featured involve planning and development. Due to the absence of a requirement to consultation […]

The impact of Covid-19 on climate change engagement

28 July 2020

In recent blogs, I’ve focussed on my work with the Environmental Working Group of The Consultation Institute and the need for a clear strategy. In the time that we’ve been planning our work, Covid-19 has changed everything, and it’s certainly had a significant impact on discussions about climate change.  The points below show just a […]

The property life cycle and the strategic approach

20 July 2020

Last Tuesday I spoke at a Women in Property webinar on the subject of property PR. For an audience of property experts, I thought it would be interesting to look at the property lifecyle, which was familiar (in varied forms) to them all, from a communications perspective. There is possibly no better way to demonstrate […]

Communicating on Climate Change – getting the messaging right

15 July 2020

Following on from my earlier blog about the need for a comprehensive engagement strategy on climate change issues, I plan to look at some of specific elements of the strategic framework in a bit more detail, starting with messaging. Climate change is such a broad subject, it’s not surprising that it has many conflicting messages […]

The changing role of the property professional and the role of PR

10 July 2020

Much has been written about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the property profession. There is no question that data acquisition has become significantly more efficient as a result of technology, and there is concern that this could result in substantial change to some professions. Now more than ever, property consultancies must become agile […]

‘Build, Build, Build’ for a sustainable and inclusive recovery

06 July 2020

In the Consultation Institute’s Environment Working Group’s first webinar we outlined our belief that the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has huge potential as a ‘green’ recovery. In the last three months the nation has been shocked by the pace at which disaster can occur and consequently concerns about climate change have been brought to […]

Change in the property media

24 June 2020

No media has been immune from the online revolution which has led to the replacement of paper with digital, the rise of blogs, video and podcasts and the introduction of interactive forums and infographics. In a survey carried out by Cision UK, only 8% of the PR consultants questioned said that they now meet journalists […]

Multi-disciplined organisations and the need for a strategic approach

12 June 2020

I’ve worked for several property consultancies, including CBRE and Trident Building Consultancy, and currently Carter Jonas and Chestertons. Property consultancies are always a fascinating client because they encapsulate the breadth of the property lifecycle, providing services as diverse as site acquisition and planning through to agency and business rates advice, as well as increasingly operating […]

Climate change: engaging the public

10 June 2020

There is no denying the fact that the impact of climate change is substantial, universal, and requires both adaptation and mitigation. Even amid the current Covid-19 crisis, climate change remains a pressing issue – if anything the issue is highlighted by the evidence that clean air, clean waterways and more sustainable living and working practices […]

Property consultancies and the online revolution

03 June 2020

As many property consultancies have found in the last decade, a centuries’ old name is not enough to ensure success in centuries to come.  And neither is a decades’ old approach. I interviewed several PR directors of property consultancies for my book Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice and more than one of them […]

Research: the core PR tool

12 May 2020

Many decades-old PR tactics (from hard copy fact files and mail-merged press releases to the all-day lunch) are now obsolete and a multitude of nascent tools are gaining prominence. But research is the enduring PR tool for the property consultancy. (Researchers will argue, quite rightly that research is not a PR tool: that most research […]

10 property PR facts and figures

28 April 2020

Did you know…? On property values The world’s real estate is worth US$280.6 trillion: on average 3.5 times GDP and significantly more so in Europe, China / Hong Kong and North America. In the UK, the total stock of property assets has grown at an average rate of 6.1% over 30 years – close to […]

40 PR techniques for property PR

27 April 2020

The following 40 PR technique are all covered in Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice, which is published this Thursday. Benchmarking Branding design and guidelines Collaborations Communications protocol Community and stakeholder engagement Conferences and awards Construction communications Creating a USP Determining audiences and stakeholders Driving traffic to a website Establishing aims & objectives Establishing […]

The world of property pr

20 April 2020

Writing the introduction to my recent book Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice, I discovered some fascinating facts about the property and PR industries. The world’s real estate is worth US$280.6 trillion: on average 3.5 times GDP and significantly more so in Europe, China / Hong Kong and North America. In the UK, the […]

Promoting Property – the story so far

16 April 2020

Two weeks today, Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice will be published.  It is already available to reserve via Amazon, Routledge and many book shops. The idea for a ‘bible’ on property and construction PR occurred to me a couple of years ago.  I was conscious that this was a rapidly growing sector with […]

The changing property industry and the role of communications

02 April 2020

My last blog concerned the external changes which are affecting property.  This post considers the way in which the property industry itself is changing and the role of PR in promoting it. Taken from my soon-to-be-published book, it was written before the days of the coronavirus crisis which has undoubtedly affected the industry for years […]

Change and challenge affecting the property industry

27 March 2020

In writing the introduction to Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice, I considered the wide ranging external influences that impact on the property world. Property is an exciting sector in which to work – mainly because of the way in which it is impacted by (and influences) social, technological, political and economic change. My […]

Coronavirus and consultation

18 March 2020

In the epicentre of a crisis, looking to the future can seem both pointless and worrying.  But longer term, challenges can create positives – consider the career opportunities for women following WW1 and the establishment of the NHS following WW2. The potential impact of coronavirus on the development sector is significant, not just today but […]

Good consultation is good PR – despite what the consultation experts say!

24 July 2019

An organisation specialising in consultation, which will remain nameless (you know who you are!) continually refers – despite my protestations to the contrary – to PR as ‘spin’.  In its eyes, consultation which doesn’t deliver good two way dialogue is ‘PR’. As a PR consultant specialising in consultation, this has always irritated me because PR […]

TCPA – Getting Public Participation Right

22 March 2019

I was delighted to speak at the TCPA’s seminar on Getting Public Participation Right yesterday and to have contributed to the TCPA Practical Guides – Guide 11: People, planning and power which was launched at the event. My presentation, ‘What constitutes good public participation?’ was a largely theoretical overview of my knowledge as an Associate […]

‘Planning Reform’ – but at what cost?

14 January 2019

Today is the deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on its policy paper Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, which proposes to increase the Permitted Development Rights allowing change of use, and in doing so removes public consultation from decisions affecting the regeneration of town centres. I […]

Planning Reform – for the worse

14 January 2019

Today is the deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on its policy paper Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, which proposes to increase the Permitted Development Rights allowing change of use, and in doing so removes public consultation from decisions affecting the regeneration of town centres. I […]

Publication of The Raynsford Review on Planning in England

10 December 2018

At the end of November, the TCPA published Planning 2020:  the final report of the Raynsford Review of Planning in England.  The report includes some excellent recommendations but will they change policy on consultation in planning? The final report is an incredibly comprehensive and significant assessment of the English planning system by former housing minister […]

Quality at a price that doesn’t match

19 October 2018

ConsultOnline clients benefit from the strategic advice of an Associate of The Consultation Institute (skilled and experienced in all aspects of consultation, up to date with case law, guidance and new methodologies), and the tactics of the author of the definitive guide to consultation in planning (Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first […]

Reporting negative responses to a consultation

05 October 2018

Well run campaigns in opposition to a future development, particularly petitions, can cause considerable harm to reputation.  But fortunately planning bodies acknowledge that consultation is not a vote and that decisions should not be based solely on numbers. And the historic emphasis on the statistical analysis of responses has changed with the advent of various […]

The Revised NPPF: a missed opportunity

15 August 2018

In May, the Government (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) held a consultation on revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework – the headline planning policy document from which all other planning policy stems. I contributed to the consultation through The Consultation Institute’s response, which commented specifically on the very opaque legislation / guidance […]

The Raynsford Review:  an opportunity for greater community involvement in planning

07 August 2018

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is undertaking a considerable review of the English planning system, intended to make it fairer, better resourced and capable of producing quality outcomes.  A key tenent of this is improved community involvement in the planning system. The task force, which is chaired by former planning minister Nick Raynsford, […]

Professionalising Consultation in Planning

21 June 2018

The law surrounding statutory consultation is extensive. And yet when developers consult on planning applications, there is a stark absence of official guidance, regulation and case law. Why, in a discipline led by professionals – chartered surveyors, planning consultants and lawyers – is the approach to consultation so lacking in professional rigour?  Because in most […]

Property industry awards – have your best work recognised

04 June 2018

Several property industry awards deadlines are coming up soon: National Housing Awards – deadline 8 June Brownfield Briefing Awards – deadline 15 June Building awards – deadline 6 July The Institute of Asset Management IAM Awards – deadline 9 July The Housing Awards – deadline 20 July The Negotiator Awards – deadline 31 July   […]

Participatory planning:  a welcome replacement to the public meeting

23 April 2018

‘A lot of heat but no light’ is an apt description of the majority of public meetings.  In the 1990s an open meeting at a local village hall or school was regarded a necessary element of most consultations.  The development team would prepare substantial amount of information and aim to talk about the proposed scheme […]

Online consultation:  a social media warning

13 April 2018

As someone who believes strongly in online consultation, I work with social media on planning applications on a daily basis.  On the whole I think that social media offers some fantastic opportunities for promoting and extending the accessibility of a planning application. But I have to say, don’t be tempted to use social media just […]

The Book Tour Goes to Belfast

06 February 2018

On Friday I’ll be in Belfast presenting to a law firm and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action on the importance (and context, structure, issues and techniques) of consultation in planning. I’ll be covering some of the content of my book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide and Rhion […]

Monitoring, analysis and evaluation – three very separate components of a consultation

05 December 2017

Monitoring, analysis and evaluation are all very important components of consultation and should not be confused.  The important difference is that monitoring occurs throughout the consultation.  Analysis, although it can be on-going, takes place (or is complete) at the end of the process.  Likewise although tactics can be evaluated while they are in progress, the […]

Working with the Consultation Institute

08 October 2017

I am delighted to have been asked to become an Associate of The Consultation Institute (tCI), joining and network of consultants who have considerable expertise in consultation and public engagement. The Consultation Institute fulfils the important role of promoting high-quality public and stakeholder consultation in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Never was there as […]

Changing levels of involvement in planning

26 September 2017

The first decade of the twenty-first century was a new era in which individuals were given the opportunity to become more active, with significantly more control whether as a purchaser, a customer or a commentator. This was largely due to increasingly interactive internet-based communications but also brought about through growing customer choice (for example in […]

Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: launch event Tuesday 11 July

07 July 2017

The CIPR is hosting an event to mark the publication of my book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide on Tuesday 11 July. The event will take the form of a panel discussion with myself, my co-author Martin Hughes, Kate Bailey of the Landscape Institute and Colin Haylock, Past President […]

Assessing potential use of social media in consultation

22 June 2017

Facebook or Twitter, or a combination of both? The various forms of social media available offer varying benefit and drawbacks. The following is a comparison of the roles and functionality of Facebook and Twitter from the point of view of public consultation – intended to help you determine the best form of social media for […]

Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: advance notification of publication

08 March 2017

My book, Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide will be published by Routledge in July 2017. The twenty-first century has seen significant changes in consultation and community involvement in planning. Changes to the environment in which community engagement exists include an increased legal requirement to consult; a renewed focus on […]

Monitoring a consultation – to what extent should the development team get involved?

26 January 2017

In some cases, the consultors’ voice is rarely heard in the discussions; in others clarifying the messages and stimulating the dialogue will be necessary to ensure an effective consultation. Determining to what extent monitoring should become involvement depends upon the following: Whether the consultation is successfully meeting the consultation objectives or whether intervention would ensure […]

Issues analysis in consultation

04 January 2017

It pays dividends for those running a consultation to have as clear as possible an understanding of the issues that will effect it before the consultation begins. In communications theory, an issue is usually described as, ‘an unsettled subject ready for debate or discussion’.  In a development consultation, this typically includes concerns about the site, […]

Considering anonymity in consultation

08 June 2016

During the early stages of a consultation, when a strategy is put in place to determine the direction of the project, it will be necessary to consider whether you will allow people to respond anonymously. While anonymity has been shown to enable people to put forward their viewpoint without fear of repercussion, it could be […]

Community relations during construction

27 May 2016

It goes without saying that local residents will be more positively engaged with a development team and less critical of it if their locality is kept clean and safe, and that they are provided with timely and adequate information should their daily lives be disrupted. The following tactics are all regarded as good practice in […]

Asking the right questions

25 May 2016

What are the ‘right’ questions to ask in a consultation on a development proposal? Unsurprisingly, there is no ‘right’ answer!  Consultation can range from an issues-based exercise which encourages a wide range of ideas from its audience, to a referendum which invites residents to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a single idea.  Ideally a consultation […]

White paper – Tackling Apathy in Consultation

29 April 2016

To receive our white paper, Tackling Apathy in Consultation please email ConsultOnline

Selecting tactics

31 March 2016

There are literally 100s of consultation tactics and with the advent of online consultation that list is growing by the day. So here are some ideas to help you select the most appropriate tactics for your consultation. Accessibility – do the tactics selected give all sections of the community an opportunity to comment? Analysis – […]

Media relations in consultation

23 March 2016

There is an assumption that the media, specifically local newspapers, are naturally anti-development, that a newspaper will always champion the voice of the local resident over that of a corporate entity, and that bad news is more likely to make the headlines than good news. There is some truth in this, but this does not […]

Does a consultation need a strategy?

19 March 2016

The simple answer, from my point of view is yes – all good consultations will have a consultation strategy.   A strategy puts in place clear aims and objectives which ensure that the consultation team shares values, expectations and understanding. It also ensures that a wide range of relevant factors are identified at the start […]

Ethics in consultation

09 March 2016

All too often, consultation is mentioned in relation to a ‘sham’ or a ‘tick box’ exercise and references made to ‘spin’ and ‘persuasion’. I have spent some time thinking about standards of excellence in consultation and have come to the conclusion that best practice consultation is all of the following:  Symmetrical A good consultation aims […]

Principles in consultation

09 March 2016

All too often, consultation is mentioned in relation to a ‘sham’ or a ‘tick box’ exercise and references made to ‘spin’ and ‘persuasion’. I have spent some time thinking about standards of excellence in consultation and have come to the conclusion that best practice consultation is all of the following: Symmetrical A good consultation aims […]

Community relations during construction – working effectively with residents

02 March 2016

There are many different facets to community relations during construction which will be addressed in later blogs. This first blog on the subject concerns the vital role of resident liaison. It goes without saying that local residents will be more positively engaged with a development team and less critical of it if their locality is […]

Consultation and changing roles

10 December 2015

Having recently completed the first draft of a book on innovation in public consultation, I have interviewed many people in the profession. It was interesting to find that in most cases, public consultations are run by planning consultants, in many cases by PR / consultation specialists but sometimes delegated to junior administrative staff with the […]

The future of online consultation

17 November 2015

The communications theorist Grunig defined excellence in communication as that which promotes the use of research, dialogue and consultation to manage conflict, improve understanding and build constructive relationships with a wide range of publics.  This seemed a good basis on which to consider the merits of online consultation in theoretical terms.  And my analysis (see […]

White Paper – Corporate Social Responsibility for Developers

20 May 2015

To receive our white paper, Corporate Social Responsibility for Developers please email ConsultOnline

The Principles of Best Practice in Online Consultation

20 May 2015

My role in providing an online consultation tool and service isn’t simply to get a stamp of approval from the local community for my clients.  Of course I want to support my clients in gaining support for their proposals.  But my role is to run a good consultation, not simply to get good results. ConsultOnline […]

CommunitiesOnline launched

12 May 2015

After running several consultations using the ConsultOnline model it is very clear that the success off ConsultOnline is due to two things: 1/ residents having access to a substantial amount of information, in a variety of formats – enabling them to feel genuinely informed and engaged 2/ the ability of the website to provide excellent […]

Public consultation: are we making the most of online opportunities?

07 May 2015

The internet and social media are changing the way we communicate at every level, both personally and professionally.  This increased significantly in 2004 when Web 2.0 changed enabled substantially more effective two-way communication.  Facebook was also established in the UK in 2004 and Twitter followed in 2006. Just look at the figures – today 58m […]

White Paper – Why choose online consultation

05 May 2015

To receive our white paper, Why choose online consultation? please email ConsultOnline

White paper – Online Consultation and Perceived Risk

31 March 2015

To receive our white paper, Online Consultation and Perceived Risk please email ConsultOnline

White Paper – Consultation Tactics – Three Staple Ingredients

20 March 2015

To receive our white paper, Consultation Tactics – Three Staple Ingredients please email ConsultOnline

White paper – Activism and Negativity – its Impact on Consultation

20 February 2015

To receive our white paper, Activism and Negativity – its Impact on Consultation please email ConsultOnline

Case study: Scotch Corner Designer Village

30 January 2015

The scheme Scotch Corner Designer Village is a proposed 250,000 sq. ft. designer outlet village, to be situated on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire.  Following an extensive consultation, both online and offline, the scheme gained planning consent in January 2015.   Planning history The site already has planning permission for 135,000 sq. ft. of warehousing […]

Communicating with Employees

28 March 2014

Poor internal communication is one of the most common criticisms employees have about their companies can lead to a range of other problems including low staff morale, misunderstandings, wasted time and lack of feedback, not to mention impacts on the company’s external reputation. If your staff don’t have an up to date and accurate picture […]

Introducing ConsultOnline

25 March 2014

PNPR is delighted to launch ConsultOnline:  21st Century Public Consultation. ConsultOnline is a unique online consultation service which enables developers to consult very effectively and cost efficiently with a specific local community as is required for a planning application. ConsultOnline uses a comprehensive website, email and social media and the process has the benefits of […]

Corporate Social Responsibility – the Wake-Up Call

18 December 2013

Increasingly companies across all industries – not least the construction and property industry – are being given a rude awakening to the importance of understanding and implementing corporate social responsibility. On the plus side, however, CSR is not a management tool necessarily requiring new staff structures and substantial resources: many of us are already practicing […]

NIMBYs with Nous

17 July 2013

The old fashioned NIMBY has now grown into a media-savvy, computer literate expert, able to fight anything and everything that he or she feels is going to affect their back yard. Through the introduction of localism and local authorities’ increased use of online media, the requirement for developers to consult with local people is greater […]

Online Consultation – future or fad?

04 February 2013

Are public meetings in draughty church halls a thing of the past? The public consultation campaigns that I have run recently have undergone radical transformation.  Advances in internet communications and social media have created the means for consultation to evolve into something more responsive, more adaptable and more cost effective than unruly public meetings. But […]

Planning for Exhibition Success

16 November 2012

The big exhibitions come around each year with what might feel like increasing regularity – and perhaps monotony. But don’t allow this year’s stand, seminar or hospitality event to become only a slight modification of last year’s. Exhibitions are the best public relations vehicle that many products and industries have available to them. They present […]

Promoting Yourself on the Internet

30 June 2012

Download this article as a PDF The internet is possibly the most powerful communications tool available and with websites costing from as little as £500, one of the most cost effective. It is also fast growing, and as the net’s users double every 100 days, the issue that concerns even the smallest of companies is […]

The (cost) Benefits of Community Involvement

26 March 2012

Download this article as a PDF As every developer knows, the reaction of a local community to a planning application can ultimately dictate its success. It is also true that community relations can make or break a company. Developers may view local power as a danger, a force that must be contained or crushed. But […]

New Approaches to Consultation

07 March 2012

Online communication is transforming public consultation, presenting new opportunities to developers and making the process both more effective and more efficient. Localism necessitates increased communication with local residents and clients are presented with a multitude of new means by which to consult. Those developers who have been hibernating during the economic downturn are waking up […]

The case for social media in corporate communications

07 January 2012

Download this article as a PDF “It’s what my teenage kids use”, or “It’s a waste of time”, is how some in the property industry have responded to the introduction of social media of social networking in a business context. Perhaps this is because this communication innovation is – ironically –badly branded. It belittles the […]

Using PR to Promote a New Product

14 December 2011

Marketing, advertising and PR are each used in varying degrees when promoting a new product. The extent to which each is deployed is generally based on the nature of the product, its target audience and the level of awareness that already exists. But ultimately the three should work effectively together. Messages and corporate style should […]

Writing a Press Release for the Trade Press

26 November 2011

Companies may struggle to feature on the news pages of trade journals and become increasingly frustrated when their news releases appear to be ignored. In the vast majority of cases the reason is simply that many news releases fail to contain real news, or that news value can be hard to identify. A news release […]