The quality of your publicity can make or break the success of your consultation exercise, so its important to get it right

You might have a whizzy consultation website or slick consultation display materials, but they are useless if people don't get to see them or know where to find them. We have set out five key steps to make sure your consultation publicity reaches the right people and motivates them to get involved.

Check policy and legal requirements

Research the expectations for publicity for your consultation. Statements of Community Involvement guide local government and those submitting planning applications and the Planning Act 2008 guides those submitting Development Consent Order applications, for example.

Grab their attention, and quickly

You have a very small window of opportunity to capture the attention of your audience and get them interested in what you're doing. Consider using a big, bold headline on your publicity that focuses on what matters to them. That will give them a reason to read on before they lose interest.

Avoid the risk of 'instant recycling'

Ever get a window envelope addressed to 'The Occupier'? Do you open it? Thought not. Do you suspect its someone trying to sell you something? Thought so. Consider sending something without an envelope, because the recipient can then see instantly that it is something of interest to them.

Make sure they can contact you

As soon as people hear about your project, they will have their own questions. If you aren't there to answer them, they will come up with their own assumptions. Provide a phone number, email address, website address or postal address, so that they can ask you.

Think about more than paper

Social media can be a great way to get the word out. Consider asking organisations with lots of followers to retweet details of how to get involved or consider using Facebook adverts to include information in the newsfeed of people living with a certain radius of the site in question.

Written by Paul Erskine-Fox - Founder, Participatr

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