Autumn 2015-Spring 2016
Milton Keynes Council had a long-term plan to improve seven neighbourhoods. Housing there had lasted longer than envisaged when built, but now needed updating. The Council funded the regeneration by forming a partnership with Mears, a private sector maintenance and development agency. As we joined the programme, with the launch of the partnership a few months away, the Council needed a more accurate picture of the popular feeling amongst residents. This would help them design a strategy of engagement and communication to help keep residents informed and satisfied.
How we approached it
We used insight to uncover the hopes and concerns of residents. We began by getting the lay of the land through in-depth conversations with key stakeholders within MK Council and parish councils (including officers and members across the political spectrum). This was coupled with a desk review of existing communications, which informed a series of resident drop-in sessions which we then held, alongside face-to-face surveys to be delivered to residents on doorsteps.
The surveys asked residents what they had heard about changes, how they felt about them, how connected they were locally and their existing information sources and communication preferences. They also included Values Modes questionnaires, which allowed us to segment core values and motivations, and to shape our communications and engagement plan. The methods we recommended included networks-based, peer-to-peer approaches, CRM-style resident and stakeholder management, and an overall message house developed with the Partnership.
Our commitment to delivering the survey in the most effective way possible, via door-to-door engagement, helped to reach a diverse range of residents, and showed widespread support for the principle of improving the estates. The communications and engagement strategy directed the launch of what has now become YourMK, informing everything from the branding to the community engagement tools used on the ground.