Having a ‘public relations strategy’ will help to maintain local interest and support for the project. This section looks at how you can ensure that people hear about and understand the ongoing project work.
Celebrating the completion of a capital phase of a project is a good way of rewarding people that have been involved and raising the profile of the project in the wider community. This can stimulate further interest, establish new contacts and help generate ongoing support for the project.
You’ll want to show the people involved and the wider local community that the project has been a success. To do that you need some form of celebration event; you’ll also want to make sure you get some good media coverage, which is also helped by having some special event, where the press can see the local people actually involved.
Bear in mind of course that your story is likely, first and foremost, to be a ‘human interest’ one – which is exactly what local papers and radio need and want. So think creatively about presenting the story so that people in your community are at the forefront.
What Kind of Events?
Community events are a good way of communicating that the new resource created by the project is something for the whole community to enjoy. They can also be used to maintain interest in the future, if funds can be found to hold some form of regular annual event.
Make sure that all the participants (past and present) know what is happening. While it’s good to have a party, think about how this can be used to reach a wider audience, perhaps by the kind of music, entertainment or activities held. Include a short semi-formal session at the start, to which the press, councillors, the mayor, etc. can be invited, along with all the participants and the local community. One or two (very) short speeches can explain why the project came about and what it has achieved. It is also good to have some form of display that shows what the changes are and how they happened.
How you market or celebrate your success depends entirely on what kind of work you’ve been doing. Completion of a survey and the release of its findings, may make good news, but is probably more the time for some form of public meeting (to which the media might be invited) than for something celebratory. Whatever your plan, discuss it with the local community and make sure they want to be involved and get their ideas for what sort of event they would like.
Public meeting are usually a turn-off for the media (and for many local people). If however you’re running a genuinely interesting event (with perhaps major speakers) then think about how to use the event as effectively as possible. Support the key speakers with a couple of short presentations about local issues; getting the editor or main journalist from a local newspaper or radio station to chair the event can also be a good way of building publicity.
So we know getting the word out about your event is a must! Whilst advertising on social media might attract people already within the group, involving the local media can be even more effective. You'll need to think about what will attract journalists to cover your story - what makes it stand out?
For more on contacting your local media, please take a look at the Media coverage page.
Respecting the Community
While projects may take place in disadvantaged areas, few people like to see their streets profiled in the local media in a negative light so emphasise the positive aspects of your project.
It’s important to show that your area is actually pretty much like any other: it may have had some problems in the past (if this is widely known), but this project is a good one on any terms. This is an important part of building pride and spirit within your community.
Where an area has had a history of bad publicity, it might be worth writing to the editor of the local paper, or even inviting the editor along to a meeting. You can point out how the articles are affecting your community, discuss the new things that are happening and how they will improve the area for everyone.
Your group might also want to set up their own newsletter to send to all residents, key partners, the media etc.
Respect your community and the local people and portray them sympathetically in the media coverage.
Go to the next section - Maintaining Involvement
The Street Party site
A guide to street parties
Community event suppliers (bands, comedians etc.)
This information is intended as a guide and, while it is as accurate and up to date as we can make it, it should not be used in place of specialist legal, financial or commercial advice.