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Designing effective public engagement

We’ve created a public consultation document for a project that aims to build a multi-million pound community learning space and arts centre at Tiverton High School.

The project partners want local people to be closely involved in the centre’s development. They asked our design agency team to create a document that would explain the overall plan and seek feedback from the community.

We had to make the consultation document:

  • visually engaging
  • packed full of detail, but…
  • easy to understand

After liaising with the project partners on the format and questionnaire design – including an online survey – we delivered the graphic design, artwork and printing.

The public response has exceeded expectations. The launch of the consultation document also made the front page of the local paper (see below).

Effective public engagement

The project partners’ approach is a great example of effective public engagement.

Rather than create a detailed proposal and put it to the public for a “yes/no” response, the project partners have involved local people right from the start. This will:

  • give the project a clearer picture of local preferences
  • build goodwill, loyalty and attachment among the public
  • give local people a greater stake in the project’s success

Some might argue that this approach works fine in the non-profit sector, but not in the commercial sector. However, there are success stories. The most famous is My Starbucks Idea, a website which crowdsources customer suggestions for new products and services.

Closer to home, one of our clients is taking a public engagement approach to developing a new set of standards for their supply chain. Rather than issuing a list of demands, they are starting with a blank piece of paper and engaging with their industry partners though events and other interactions to build a truly inclusive industry-wide statement of intent.

Taking your stakeholders along with you on your journey can yield powerful long-term results. To talk more about public engagement, call Steve Lodge on 0117 2444 800 or email steve@oxygenagency.co.uk.


Katie Sanders :Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.

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