All too often, communicating with the neighbourhood is either underestimated or started too late – usually due to all kinds of strategic considerations. That is, until it’s too late, and the neighbourhood finds out through the media. This does not instill confidence. Our advice? Communicate. And make sure you do it at the right time, with the right message, and through the right channels.

Don’t procrastinate

People are always suspicious of change, especially when it’s close to home. That’s why you shouldn’t procrastinate long enough to allow a neighbourhood committeeto be set up and kill your project in the media. The best way forward is to start talks with the neighbourhood and local administration before making your big PR announcement. It’s the only way to make sure you stay in control of the communication.

Use normal language

Technical terms like SIP or bioswales – commonplace in the real estate sector – don’t always ring a bell with the general public. The point is that experts tend to use technical jargon that has nothing to do with the lives of most local residents or other private stakeholders. Instead, use plain language when communicating to guarantee transparency.

Give your project a face

Neighbourhood communication often deals with bricks or a new building being erected in a familiar environment. Your job is to make sure that your story is made up of more than just concrete and bricks. Give your project a face, a point of contact – someone people can go to with their questions. An ombudsperson is a good example.

Get ambassadors involved

Don’t be afraid to involve ‘credible third parties’ either, people who can provide your narrative with greater support. For instance, consider experts that support your initiative (not the originators), or local residents, retailers, or officials who believe in the project, or who are just happy to hear that a new playground is on the way. Ambassadors persuade others of the added value your initiative will contribute to the surroundings.

Create your own media channels  

Neighbourhood communication is more than just drafting a press release or organising a neighbourhood information session. Create your own media channels, e.g. a local newsletter in which you explain the project, reveal a handful of interesting facts, or demonstrate how you will handle the temporary vacancy. You could also make a news video and share it on social media.This way you also generate more support.