Cultural and Civic Space Project Community Engagement Plan and Communications Materials, Coffs Harbour City Council 2018-19

  • Project Name: Coffs Harbour Cultural and Civic Space Project Community Engagement Plan and Communications Materials, Coffs Harbour City Council 2018-19

  • Location: Coffs Harbour, NSW

An Engagement and Communications plan for significant cultural and civic space

The Context

Coffs Harbour City Council have been working towards developing a new cultural and civic space where they could have an expanded library, museum and gallery with up to three times the space that is currently available. As it stood, the library was only 40% the size recommended by the State Library and didn’t offer enough computers, study spaces, meeting rooms, books or other resources to the community.

This was an important project for the council, and one that would allow them to create a combined facility with regional gallery, central library, museum, community meeting rooms, co-working space, shop, café, function space, customer service area, as well as Council Chambers, Council staff office accommodation and car parking. However, despite significant previous community engagement in which three separate designs were proposed, there were some misunderstandings and confusion within the community.

Engagement Plus was asked to prepare a Community Engagement Plan and communications materials that would allow council to better communicate and engage with the people of Coffs Harbour, address misunderstandings and to help spread the word about the benefits of the new cultural and civic space.

The Engagement

As a first step of the project, we needed to do a full stakeholder analysis. This helped us to see who the stakeholders were, what they understood the project to be about, where communication needed to be enhanced and what roles and responsibilities would be needed to manage that communication into the future. We undertook desktop research, interviews, focus groups and held a workshop to gather the vital information that we needed to get to the heart of the matter.

Once we understood that information, we developed an overall stakeholder engagement and communications plan. This plan included new messaging that would better share the benefits and goals of the project. Once that messaging was in place, we redrafted all the communications collateral to better convey that messaging.

We also considered how best to engage with stakeholders while advocating for the cultural and civic space as a whole. At each stage of the plan, we included the actions that needed to be taken to get the results and the outcomes the council was looking for.

The Objectives

The key purpose of our project was to identify ways to raise awareness of the benefits of the new cultural and civic space. Council wanted to convey to the community how well-designed cultural facilities, such as libraries, museums and art galleries, would increase the liveability of Coffs Harbour, bring in new business and tourism and breathe life into the whole area.

The Approach

To meet the council’s objectives we completed the following:

  • A full stakeholder analysis
  • Detailed engagement plan through to the opening of the new space
  • Revised existing communications collateral to better share the main message of the project
  • Prepared communications collateral for the project launch in January 2018
  • Developed the materials for the subsequent Schematic Design phase, including journey mapping, media releases, brochures, social media activations, advertisements, direct letters, posters, static displays and banners

The Outcomes

The council was very pleased with the outcomes of our stakeholder engagement strategy and communications plan. We were able to gather important information that helped the council to tailor their messaging. And we were able to help convey to the community the many benefits that the new cultural and civic space would bring to Coffs Harbour.

This project also shows our experience and expertise in creating fantastic and effective communication and engagement strategies, especially for arts and cultural projects for local government.

Lessons Learned

This project shows how important directly communicating with stakeholders is. It helps you to hear their perspective, and provides new insights into the projects that you are looking to complete. Direct outreach lets you see all the angles, and then better communicate your message to the people who need to hear it.

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If you need a stakeholder engagement strategy and communications plan, get in touch. Our team is here to help you deliver your message to the world.