The Client: Huntingdonshire District Council
working in conjunction with the Environment Agency, Highways England, Godmanchester Town Council, Godmanchester in Bloom, and the Godmanchester Community Liaison Group

The construction of the fish and eel pass at the Godmanchester Mill Steps was a huge joint effort, with many stakeholders working together to make it happen. It is part of a much wider project to open up the river Great Ouse, allowing fish and eels to travel freely up and downstream.

Before the construction work began, May 27 2021

The fish pass works by enabling fish and eels to ‘climb’ the natural barrier within the river. The gentle slope of the Larinier fish pass includes “baffles” to slow the water, enabling all species to pass through it. Resting pools along the way allow the fish to rest before continuing on their journey. The Fens used to be full of eels, but their numbers have reduced drastically over the last twenty years. Man-made weirs, mills and sluices have prevented the annual migration of over 3000km made by eels, to the Sargasso Sea in the north Atlantic to breed.

After the work was completed, June 9 2022

The Challenge: Inspiring and informing the local residents and community groups

The initial brief was to create a press release about the Mill Steps project. The diverse group of stakeholders were integral to this, with each holding a unique role in the success of the project. We needed to find common ground between these important groups before producing a coherent and informative communication that explained how the project would improve the health and wellbeing of wildlife and local residents.

Controlling the narrative about the project was the second challenge. Creative content would form the basis of a communication campaign to reach all interested parties. Not only would everyone need to be kept fully informed during the execution of the project, but enthusiasm for the changes needed to be generated.

The Solution: Proactively engaging with stakeholders to create compelling communications

Bespoke Stakeholder Management
Taking time to talk independently to each stakeholder and interest group meant that we fully understood the individual interests of each. This intense period paid so many dividends as the project evolved, including how we crafted engaging communications that accurately portrayed the benefits of each partners’ work. We continued this hands-on approach by creating monthly update newsletters for the partners and in return, whenever we spent time on site, each was more than willing to share insights into their work.

Godmanchester Sluice Gates project Stakeholders from Breheny, The Environment Agency, Highways England, Godmanchester Community Liaison Group, H.D.C and local councillors gather in front of the gates on the old mill site in the town. June 14 2021

Engaging Communications
After benchmarking initial feelings about the project, a compelling series of blogs, photographs and videos were created and shared on Huntingdonshire District Council’s website and social channels, and partner websites. The posts were packed full of interesting facts and catalogued the entire project from start to finish. They generated a huge volume of interest, shown by the number of likes, shares and comments, with many reshared to other community and partner groups.

A responsive approach
By continually monitoring the reaction to posts, Keystone was able to evolve the campaign content to ensure optimum engagement. Whilst various ‘housekeeping’ posts were necessary, such as guidance about project timelines and parking, the most popular posts featured content about the natural environment, such as the nesting spaces built into the brick walls for the local Grey Wagtails, and drone footage of the site showing the changes in progress.

Spending time with the different members of the liaison group was integral to the success of this project. Taking the time to hold one-to-one conversations and to completely understand their role in the project, and their personal success criteria, meant that we were able to prepare relevant communications that resonated with stakeholders and the local people alike. I learnt so much every time I visited the site and felt as excited as the rest of the team to see the project develop.

Katherine Hesketh, Head of Communications, Keystone Marketing

 

 

The Keystone impact

  • Our hands on approach to managing stakeholders helped create an enthusiastic team with a shared focus
  • This relationship helped us to produce coherent communications that evolved over the lifespan of the project
  • We ensured local commitment to the project by sharing relevant information about the build and it’s benefits
  • Consistent engagement with the council teams meant that our work fitted seamlessly into their business as usual communications

If you want to boost your community engagement either generally or for a specific reason, do reach out to us.