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LOCATION! Strategic and integrated communications to secure community consent for local development projects

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Strategic and business context • Despite the virtues of electronic marketplaces, most industrial activity and commerce depends on physical locations – factories, plants, retail complexes. • Whether building new facilities, redeveloping or expanding existing facilities, or exiting mature facilities, local communities are key stakeholders – with considerable and vocal power if upset. • The relationships between business sites and local communications impact on revenue as well as reputation. Approvals denied, or loss of license to operate, is costly and a hit to reputation. • Successful relationships with communities depends on trust and goodwill, both of which are earned through transparent communication and open engagement.

Community opposition to Shell’s Corrib natural gas project in Mayo County, Ireland, led to significant delays, design modifications, and alterations to the pipeline route after a lengthy government-backed independent inquiry.

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Grounds for dissent • Local communities have legitimate and personal interest in what happens ‘in their backyards’. • Most objections involve one or more of the following key issues: – Safety (eg., nuclear power plant, explosives factory) – Environment (eg., pollution, biodiversity) – Health (eg., air emissions, groundwater impact) – Visual amenity (eg., wind farms, smokestacks) – Impact on fenceline properties/land use (eg., risk of biocontamination from GM crops) – Impact on other businesses (eg., retail complexes vs ‘high street’ shops) – Inadequate benefit to community (eg., few jobs) – Traffic and transport impacts (eg,. transport depot) – Climate change (eg., airport expansion) – Alternative land use (eg., conversion of ‘commons’ for residential, commercial or industrial use) – Social impacts (eg., attract anti-social behaviour)

Unhappy neighbours? Borsele nuclear plant sits next to a popular Dutch beach

Power transmission grids are being fiercely resisted in many countries including Italy

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New community & NGO connections • Decline in ‘inherent trust’ of companies across Europe – especially foreign-owned companies • Rise in trust of NGO spokespeople, particularly on scientific and environmental/climate ‘facts’ • Internet is enabling horizontal links between local communities facing common challenges or opposing common companies – information and ‘tactical best practice’ sharing • Digital media increasingly important – web, blogs, video, citizen journalism • Climate change acting as the “umbrella” or megaissue now forming vertical links between local, national and global NGOs • National NGOs are often quick to support local campaigns with financial, tactical and media assistance

Membership of the UK Stop Climate Chaos coalition, linking the big international NGOs (BINGOs) and local interest groups.

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Community realities • Like markets, communities are not homogenous – rarely is there a single attitude towards proposed developments • Communities can be segmented like a market – on demographics, values, attitudes and specific location (ie., fenceline vs more distant neighbours) • Each community has its own influencer networks and opinion-leaders, ‘news’ channels, sub-cultures and affinity groups – each of which can be directly and indirectly targeted at the grassroots level • Understanding these local dynamics and drivers is key to success Demographic or attitudinal/value-based clusters and affinity groups within local communities allow customised, targeted approaches to mobilising potential support and minimising the risk from opponents

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Introducing LOCATION! • Multi-disciplinary approach covering the entire lifecycle of a site – from early scoping and site selection, through approval and consultation, to construction and operations • Key programme components: – – – – – – – – –

Scoping study Research Stakeholder mapping and issues identification Community needs assessment Consultation process Coalition building Government relations and planning approvals NGO relations Risk communication

– – – – –

Community panels Digital outreach & social media Reporting to stakeholders Social investment Local business partnerships

• Building on general communication skills and tools

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Process for building trust Levels of community trust Building partnerships Social investment ONGOING INVESTMENT

Comms/ Reporting Community panel

Risk communications NGO engagement UPFRONT INVESTMENT Research Stakeholder mapping Coalition building Community needs Consultation process

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Effective life

Community needs assessment • An award-winning proprietary B-M process designed as a launch pad for local stakeholder dialogue and as a guide for identifying ‘common cause’ opportunities. – –

Face to face interviews Ranking of priority issues using both qualitative and quantitative data

• Interview process & the “act of asking” builds relationships with community leaders – – –

Based on common issues before there is a business related need. Results form the basis of cooperative relationships and discussion Company managers (and other employees) are recruited to perform the assessments •

undergo a one day training session for conducting the interviews

Interviews are conducted with a cross section community leaders

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When to consider LOCATION! • The elements in the LOCATION! model can be applied separately at almost any stage in the life of a major project, and in response to almost any community mood • It is recommended that the LOCATION! methodology be engaged at the outset of a proposed site selection, through a scoping study –

This would, in turn, identify which specific elements may need to be required, mapping these on a project timeline

• However, LOCATION! can also be used in a remedial manner where trust has broken down, or following a major incident like an accident or explosion. – Or to help plan a downsizing, divestment or closure and decommissioning

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Contacts For further information about LOCATION!, please contact: Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA):

North America: or

Latin America:


E V I D E N C E - B A S E D C O M M U N I C AT I O N S


The ultimate goal of location is to maintain strong stakeholder relationships over the life major local development projects. Location! offe...

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