Connecting Devon & Somerset

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Discipline: Public Relations, Stakeholder engagement  Industry: Public services

Our brief

To deliver a three year communications programme of stakeholder and media engagement to ensure a positive reputation for Connecting Devon & Somerset (CDS) - the publicly funded superfast broadband programme across the six council areas which is the largest infrastructure broadband programme in the UK. When complete, the programme will have rolled out to nearly 400,000 premises.

Areas of support

We are responsible for delivering a strategy to support interest in take up of superfast broadband amongst businesses and consumers, to defend against reputational risks and criticism and ensure the security of funding. The key components of this campaign were:

  • Briefings for political/local government stakeholders; we based our strategy upon building close relationships with key stakeholders, business groups, Government Ministers, and MPs to deliver open and create ideas about CDS and understanding the wider political environment and implications for the programme;
  • Stakeholder research and story development; we convened a focus group study in the CDS area which sought to understand what factors we should consider when communicating the availability and benefits of superfast broadband to increase uptake in the community. We used the results of the focus groups to inform our media relations strategy where key themes such as speed, stability of connection, and cost were integrated into CDS’ press releases and reactive statements;
  • Reporting and evaluation; we issue a quarterly report to the CDS board with key communications statistics to enable members to make both communications and operational decisions.

Outcome

  • The positive tone of coverage is overriding any negative coverage, with over 250 online and print media coverage achieved in regional and leading industry publications since September 2014
  • Through our awareness raising targeting community groups and local communities, take up of superfast broadband has increased to 22% since the programme began
  • Our communication platform is on-going as we support CDS in managing the next rollout phase of the broadband programme.

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