Our PR and Content teams are often called in to ‘sell’ or launch a project and that means we’re astute at identifying the story of a place; what will people want to read and hear about what will get them excited about a place. We think that the real magic happens when you start this thinking early in the development process, as part of the wider placemaking and place branding strategy. If you can find those stories, apply them to the place brand, and tell them consistently, you’ll achieve real resonance with audiences – from the end-user, to partners and collaborators, to the communities involved and other stakeholders.
Here are four things placemakers need to be thinking about from a PR perspective.
Are you engaging locally?
Local media coverage will shape public opinion, helping make or break a proposed development’s progress through the planning phase and into construction. Local media interest must be managed carefully and respectfully. Having effective messages that reflect a place’s story, and empathetic spokespeople capable of communicating that message in a way that reassures and engages local communities, will significantly influence local buy-in and help mitigate risk of negative press coverage. Local media need not be your enemy.
Are you launch ready?
While brand, communications and public relations should be embedded at the start of a project, it is invariably an afterthought, addressed too late in the day when a development is ready to be launched to end users. As part of the wider marketing mix, media profile can play an incredibly important role in reaching target audiences, lending third-party validation to a place’s offering. Media interest can be cultivated through a variety of tactics, from launch stunts and promos to creating stories that latch on to current affairs and market developments.
Who’s your storyteller?
Placemaking is often conducted by a cast of thousands, and identifying who the place champions and spokespeople are is key. These individuals must be media trained and prepared with key messages to both lead the conversation about place and equipped to deal with the difficult questions that can emerge over the course of a development project or campaign.
What happens when things go wrong?
With such complex projects it’s not always plain sailing. Accidents can happen on the construction site and local opposition to a scheme or supply chain challenges can emerge. All of these, and more, factors can significantly impact the reputation of a place and must be prepared for robustly; crisis plans developed, tested and ready to be actioned at a moments’ notice.
Tali Robinson, Head of Real Estate and Tal Donahue, Account Director at Infinite Global