Stakeholder Communication

Extensive stakeholder engagement helped Thameslink Programme to deliver majorly disruptive blockades without negative and potentially disruptive sentiment from key local businesses, MPs and communities. Information was delivered to these audiences in a clear and consistent manner, in conjunction with the other strands of the wider campaign.

Timely engagement and positive relationships has created advocacy among these groups, creating a collaborative environment with joint opportunities for promotion. We have worked with all partners on the Programme to represent their interests and listen to who they feel should be targeted.

Objectives

  • Increase awareness of the Thameslink Programme among businesses, political stakeholders and communities around London Bridge and across the routes affected.
  • Minimise disruption on businesses, constituents and communities by helping them plan and prepare for disruption caused by the Thameslink Programme, which will affect their staff, customers and visitors.
  • Raise support and advocacy for the Thameslink Programme by positioning it as an exemplar project, leading the way in terms of communication, innovation, technology, sustainability and community relations.
  • Mitigate reputational risk by building support for the Thameslink Programme in the relevant local areas.
  • Help maintain London Bridge area as an attractive and thriving destination which is open for business and can be accessed throughout the construction work.
  • Increase awareness of the benefits the Thameslink Programme will deliver to the economy, particularly the impact London Bridge station will have on the London Bridge local economy.

Strategy

Presenting materials as a coordinated single voice. The Programme represents all partners to:

  • Bring to life the transformative impact of the Programme on north – south cross London travel by delivering an integrated, pro-active campaign promoting the benefits, impacts and milestones of the Programme
  • Our role is to improve understanding and awareness of the Thameslink Programme with an objective of people accepting the disruption and supporting the long-term investment – short-term pain for long-term gain.

Political

  • Regular drop-in sessions in parliament for affected constituency MPs.
    • A chance for MPs or their researchers to come along and ask questions face to face on behalf of their constituents.
    • Held on sensible day/time – i.e. when the most MPs will be in parliament and not their constituencies, avoiding major debates in the chamber.
    • Bespoke materials and information booklets produced as takeaways, providing ready to go information and keeping control of the message even from afar through ease of facilitation.
  • Inviting MPs, Greater London Assembly representatives and key councillors to come on site tours during construction projects.
    • Before all major disruptive events (i.e. Christmas/August BH blockades) members of parliament in relevant constituencies invited to partake in a site tour of relevant construction site (mainly London Bridge).
    • Opportunity to push key messages directly and offer tailored information packs, as well as explaining in detail the complexity and benefits of projects.
    • Chance to involve senior management and build high level relationships with key influencers.
  • Regular, monthly MP newsletters targeted at the relevant MPs (segmented by train operator) with updates on the campaign, project progress and other local news.
  • Regular contact at earliest possible stage (ahead of press releases etc) with these audiences through bespoke mailing list
  • Regular attendance at council meetings and rail user group meetings relating to transport/rail or local construction projects.
  • Recording all MP contact in a matrix to track and record correspondence for help with evaluation and sentiment analysis, as well as knowledge sharing.

Business

  • Targeting relevant Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and estate managers
    • Identifying, approaching and meeting one to one with BIDs (such as Team London Bridge) and estate managers (such as Broadgate Estates who manage all of the riverside area close to London Bridge station) and their communications/travel teams.
    • Giving a detailed briefing on the latest status of the project and any upcoming dates/events which may be relevant to the local business community i.e. that will impact on their staff or visitors.
    • Advising on how businesses can stay updated and what our travel advice is with bespoke and jargon free information which can be readily transferred across platforms.
    • Working to identify what channels we can utilise to push information out through locally focused, established and familiar voices in BID/estate areas. Examples include newsletters, web/news pages on BID websites, information screens around managed estates and Twitter and other social media feeds.
    • Exploring and exploiting local knowledge to understand where the gaps in our engagement are and who they deem to be the most important local businesses, who may be worthy of individual engagement.
    • Sending hard copies of campaign leaflets for distribution in local hubs, making use of ambassadors for the area already employed by BIDs in some cases.
    • Attending already established steering groups and other already established local forums.
  • Signing up as many organisations as possible, as early as possible to a stakeholder mailing list.
    • Issue monthly updates focused around major campaign dates (see passenger communications link).
    • Forward newsletters to colleagues at BIDs, estate management companies and the train operators. In some cases, this increased our reach five-fold.
  • Delivering a business-targeted mailshot to all business addresses within a 500m radius of stations affected by disruption, using campaign creative themes and containing agreed key messages and calls to action.
  • Creating a business toolkit, available online and the main focus of all business-related calls to action.
    • Toolkit contains details of how people can stay updated individually (email updates, social media links) and materials including suggested web copy, suggested social media posts, animations, Q&A, ticket acceptance maps and digital versions of leaflets and posters for self-printing.
    • All materials aligned with key messaging and creative of wider campaign to reinforce what employees and business customers may have seen as passengers.
  • Quarterly forum for businesses in affected areas. A breakfast session with pastries and refreshments hosted by a senior member of the project team.
    • Offers a chance to network, directly update local businesses on the project latest, a chance to flag majorly disruptive impacts and offer businesses an opportunity to ask the project team questions and open a dialogue.
  • Recording all business contact in a matrix to track and record correspondence for help with evaluation and sentiment analysis, as well as knowledge sharing.

Community

  • Quarterly forum for residents and members of the community in affected areas.
    • An evening session with cake and refreshments hosted by a senior member of the project team.
    • Offers a chance to network, directly update residents on the project latest, a chance to flag majorly disruptive impacts including road closures and offer communities an opportunity to ask the project team questions and open a dialogue.
  • Close working relationship with main contractors on projects, who lead on community liaison.
    • Regular meetings to identify upcoming issues/opportunities – both to recognise potential issues early and manage accordingly, and to find positive PR stories with enough time to promote and report properly.
    • Working closely to provide clear and timely information pre-notification letters on a regular basis to lineside neighbours and residences located close to the various Programme worksites.
  • Sending hard copies of leaflets to libraries and community spaces in affected areas.
    • Work with local councils to identify local sites and required quantities before distributing most up to date leaflets in advance of closures. 

Measurement

  • Impact was measured through engagement metrics, for example including numbers of enquiries, number of drop-in sessions and number of leaflets distributed.
  • Stakeholders were also sent surveys at regular intervals throughout the campaign to ensure that the materials and approach we were taking was on that worked for stakeholders. This was a valuable source of feedback both in terms of our general approach and also specifically about which of our business toolkit materials our stakeholders found most useful.

Case Studies

Communications Lessons Learned

Lessons learned for the benefit of future projects including: Strategic Communications, Brand Development, Blockade & Complex Works, Introduction of New Trains, Stakeholder Engagement and New Timetable.