Integrated PR (construction PR)

Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) appointed Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK to deliver the £32m King’s Dyke level crossing scheme, which involves building a new road and bridge over the railway line.

Outwrite PR is Jones Bros’ retained construction PR agency and is working with CCC’s communications team on all the communications in relation to this project.

The objectives for the project are to communicate with stakeholders to:

  • Inform and engage about the scheme
  • Provide reassurance on the safe and timely delivery of the scheme
  • Keep them fully updated on work that may impact them e.g. road closures
  • To create opportunities for open two-way dialogue and engagement with stakeholders and the community

Objectives and planning

An initial comms meeting was held between CCC, Jones Bros and Outwrite to share best practices and intel about the local community and key stakeholders.

It was clear at the outset that a flexible, integrated PR approach was required, and all parties were on board.

There was a careful consideration to key messages and comms delivery as this was in the middle of the covid pandemic.

A joint PR and comms plan was created, including a content plan, that allowed for frequent communications aimed at the target audiences across multiple channels for an integrated approach.

Primary target audiences:

  • Local residents and businesses
  • Commuters
  • Politicians and councillors, including an MP, county, district and town councils

In addition to a proactive plan for positive stories, an agreed methodology for dealing with any issues or crises was also developed.

Numbers and figures

CGI page views in three months

%

Positive media coverage with at least one key message

Facebook reach

Implementation

Strategy: creative and strategic integrated storytelling to resonate with target audiences to build awareness and trust simultaneously.

Due to COVID-19, we knew innovation was required to engage with the local community without the benefits of site visits and the public seeing progress for themselves.

We focused on online resources to grab attention (CGI web page with a CGI of what the finished road would look like, video interviews with personnel on site, project progress update images and copy), direct tactics (print newsletter), accessible comms (Facebook page), and third party (earned media).

Stories, angles and key messages included:

  • Project milestones and site updates (to confirm scheme is on schedule)
  • Work that may impact daily lives e.g. road closures
  • Impact on local economy through supply chain stories
  • Benefits for the local community e.g. sponsorship and careers
  • People-focused stories to put faces and people at the heart of the project
  • Health and safety, including COVID-19
  • Responsible and sustainable construction, including caring for the environment
  • Innovation

CGI

We developed an interactive CGI web page to open up the scheme online to virtual visitors, as well as provide a glimpse as to what it will look like upon completion.

It includes a mix of content including video interviews, site pictures and copy to help people understand more about the project.

Jones Bros is passionate about supporting education and increasing accessibility of civil engineering as a career, and in the absence of site visits and classroom talks due to COVID-19, used the CGI page to still engage with pupils and students.

The web page includes video interviews with some of the team on-site discussing careers in civil engineering and their journey into the industry. Our goal is to still provide insight and value to make a real difference to those wanting to find out more.

Print newsletter

A quarterly print newsletter allows us to place key messages within engaging stories set out in a familiar journalistic style directly in people’s properties as well as at key locations across the area. An accessible and online version is also available.

Stories have included (with key message):

  • Employee spotlight (putting faces to the project, key roles e.g. covid compliance officer)
  • Supplier spotlight (positive impact on local economy)
  • Site update (innovation, on schedule, caring for the environment)
  • Upcoming work (keep community updated)
  • Community engagement (benefits to local community)

Facebook page

We produce fortnightly community progress updates, which help to keep local people updated with the latest information.

It’s updated with pictures, news and information from site including progress, recent work, upcoming activity and important traffic management announcements.

A WhatsApp group was set up with the site team for increased efficiency of sharing images and updates to the comms teams.

Media relations

The project is of great interest to local media, and they also provide an important channel of communication with the wider community including politicians, councillors and commuters.

We pencilled in PR milestones as well as repurpose stories from the print newsletter where appropriate to drip-feed interesting site stories to key media outlets.

Visuals

We commission monthly drone pictures and videos as we know from experience these types of visuals attract good engagement.

Internal comms meetings

A fortnightly comms call is held between CCC, JB and Outwrite in addition to regular communication during day-to-day activity to ensure all are on the same page.

Outcome/client testimonial

Against primary objectives

We receive frequent positive feedback from all stakeholders about the quality and frequency of communication.

CGI page

400 page views in 3 months.

Able to reach out to all secondary and primary schools, as well as colleges, in the area to support their curriculum as well as engage youngsters on the project and careers in civil engineering.

Print newsletter

Each quarter, more copies are requested by influential recipients such as councillors and politicians to share with their networks.

Anecdotal feedback includes looking forward to receiving each edition as well as on the in-depth stories providing an interesting insight into a major project and the people delivering it.

Facebook page

Since the Facebook page launched:

  • The posts have reached more than 960,000 people
  • More than 3,000 shares, comments and likes
  • 83% of engagement is positive/neutral

Media relations

57 pieces of coverage across print, online and broadcast media covering hyperlocal, local, regional and trade media.

Stories (key messages) include:

  • Project milestones (scheme on schedule, innovation)
  • Recruitment (benefit to local economy)
  • Student offered permanent role (careers in civil engineering)

100% of the media coverage has been positive and included at least one key message.

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