In 2015 we launched our ‘Your City. Your plan’ campaign to ascertain what our residents thought of the plan of sites identified for development for housing, green space, retail and employment across the whole of the city for the next 12 years. This was the culmination of ten years work developing our Core Strategy, and linked back to the previous 2015 Site Allocations consultation entitled ‘Your City, Your say’; as well as contributing towards our ambition to be the ‘best city’.
Our call to action was simple: visit our website to find out more, and have your say. This was repeated on all marketing and advertising material.
Our Graphic Information Systems team developed an innovative online map that allowed you to put in a postcode or street name, see what development(s) were proposed for that area, and linked through the relevent documents and section of the form to make having your say online as easy as possible.
We developed briefings for all contact points with customers – digital access team, contact centres, one stop shops and community hubs – so that anywhere we have contact with customers staff were briefed on the consultation; and more importantly in those places that offered free computer use and internet access how to help people have their say.
We engaged with partners including the LEP, BID, chamber of commerce, our Voice and Influence team and the third and voluntary sector to engage businesses, children and young people and those in hard-to-reach disadvantaged and minority groups.
Advertising was a mix of paid-for, low and no-cost advertising with a budget spend of circa £13,000.
To address the issues from the 2015 consultation with lack of attendance at drop-in sessions we used targeted phone box wrap advertising in communities in the two week period building up to a drop-in session advertising that there was one, and to go online to find out more.
A mix of enewsletters, social media and web hits tracked the campaign effectiveness and correlating forms received. (We have two areas in Leeds for the plan which is why the forms are split into Site Allocations and Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan.) Web hits and form submissions peaked in the last week of consultation. Enewsletters were consistently opened by on average 6000 people; and clicked-through by 800 which is well above industry average. Social media also signposted to drop-in sessions to boost attendance.
Over 13,000 people had their say – with over 3,000 attending a drop-in session and 10,000 submitting responses online, on paper or by email.
This included 45,000 individual responses – where people had a say on more than one aspect of the plan – which was double the amount received for a previous consultation of this nature.
Of the 10,000 responses received; a third were online; a third were paper-based which was previously the norm for this kind of consultation; and a third were by email.
Attendance at the drop-in sessions was particularly strong, especially compared to the insight from the 2015 consultation which this turned around, and especially in communities which was the main focus (the start and finish city centre sessions being ‘mop up’ sessions.)
Some methods worked better than others, but with over 13,000 responses for circa £13,000 spend a return of one engagement per £1 can be seen as a massive success.
The most valuable lesson was in using community-based advertising and the effectiveness this had.
Had we had more lead-in time, I would have liked to ensure that the language in the online and printed consultation materials aligned better with the language used on the marketing and promotional materials.
Danielle Clayton, Communications and marketing business partner, Leeds City Council