In October 2012 PLMR client Interxion secured planning permission for a £100 million data centre in the heart of London. Interxion is a New York Stock Exchange-listed tech company providing colocation data centre services across 11 European countries. The consented scheme lies in the heart of the Truman Brewery Conservation Area in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ Brick Lane, adjacent to both the City of London and the emerging Tech City technology hub.
Planning permission for this large and complicated development in a historically sensitive area was secured at planning committee stage in a local authority renowned as the most difficult in London to secure consent.
In the summer of 2011, the UK faced one of the biggest crises it had ever seen in Health & Social Care. Southern Cross, the country’s largest independent elderly care home provider was verging on administration, leaving 14,000 jobs at risk, and over 10,000 elderly people fearing for their homes.
From this crisis emerged many leaders across the Health & Social care sector. In just 94 days one such team led by Dr Chai Patel formed a new company called HC-One and took over 241 care homes that were formerly part of Southern Cross.
PLMR worked with HC-One to:
- Overcome the negative legacy of Southern Cross
- Minimise negative media coverage
- Create a new brand and identity underpinned by strong messages
- Provide full strategic crisis communications and 24 hour press support
In the first three months of operation, PLMR worked alongside stakeholder press offices, the Police and local councils. Over 80 holding statements were drafted in this period alone and the press team leveraged news items to gain positive profile for the fledgling company and its senior management team.
HC-One spoke to millions via outlets including Radio 4’s Today Programme, The Guardian, Daily Politics, BBC Breakfast, and ITV news. Board Member Anne Williams spoke to care professionals through more consumer oriented media such as the One Show.
Messages were conveyed to appeal to a specialised audience of politicians and decision makers, to the public, elderly people and their families. The drop in occupancy was tackled and the new company put on a stable footing. This provided reassurance for residents and families. A huge crisis was averted without Government intervention and the destabilisation of thousands of elderly people was avoided.
In June 2011 the world’s most famous nightclub, Ministry of Sound, was fighting for its life. An international property developer, who was quoted saying, “nightclubs come and go” had submitted a proposal to Southwark Council to build a 41-storey residential building just a few metres from the nightclub.
Ministry of Sound was in danger of being shut down if residents in this new building were to make noise complaints. Facing a fight for its future, Ministry worked with PLMR to launch the Save Our Club campaign.
The campaign used public affairs to target key audiences, including the London politicians who would decide the fate of the club and the general public. The goal of the campaign was to raise awareness of Ministry as an integral part of the UK’s cultural fabric, and a business that contributes to the local economy, employs hundreds of people, and makes a positive contribution to the community.
Over the course of a six month campaign more than 25,000 people signed a petition in protest. 95,933 people visited the Save Our Club website, and Ministry gained significant attention in local, national and international media. Celebrity voices were leveraged, including UK number one recording artists Example and Wretch 32, who spoke out publicly to defend Ministry.
On October 11th, in a meeting of London’s Southwark Council’s Planning Committee, key politicians, local decision-makers and members of the public came together to see the results of the campaign. The Committee of politicians voted 5-1 to save the world’s most famous nightclub, against the explicit recommendations of Planning Officers.
PLMR worked with Veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress to launch a campaign to tackle the stigma that can be associated with Veterans seeking advice, support and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
National exposure was brought to the issue of mental health for those returning from combat with psychological injuries. Partnerships were implemented to leverage key stakeholder groups in order to build a critical mass informed of the issues and to support the campaign.
A strategic partnership was developed with the Daily Telegraph, as 37% of Combat Stress supporters identify themselves as Telegraph readers and are thus more likely to be committed to the cause if the paper publicly endorsed the campaign’s aims, which it did.
Key spokespeople and Veterans appeared in national media; MPs spoke out and hosted receptions in the Houses of Parliament; and social media was leveraged to raise awareness.
The campaign was a success. In six months, calls to the Combat Stress 24 Hour Helpline went from 286 per month to 615 per month. Visits to Combat Stress’ website increased by 60%, and the average length of time Veterans wait before seeking help was reduced from 14.3 years to 13.1 years, with the number of new Veterans referred to Combat Stress increasing by 10%.
What’s more, fundraising continued to surpass expectations to reach £22 million after only two years.
PLMR worked with the Solicitor Sole Practitioners Group (SPG) to campaign against the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABS); a change in legislation which the SPG felt would have a negative impact on the independence of legal advice, and would substantially limit access to justice in England and Wales.
Prior to PLMR coming on board the campaign had received few mentions in Parliament and negligible media attention.
In three months with PLMR, the SPG:
Obtained media coverage in The Times Online Law pages
Were asked onto the BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Met with an influential MP who then wrote to the lead Minister on the issue
Saw and tabled an Early Day Motion on their priority issue, obtaining 15 signatures to date
Met with the Special Adviser to the Shadow Justice Minister
Met with an influential, high profile, MP who has now taken up the SPG’s cause and wants to organise an Adjournment Debate
Have seen their issues raised at length in the relevant Parliamentary Committee meeting, with their name, cause and opposition to Alternative Business Structures recorded in Hansard
For more information, please visit the Say NO to Alternative Business Structures website
PLMR works with many health and social care organisations to illuminate the inspirational work carried out by their dedicated teams of care workers every day and to highlight the broader challenges facing the sector as a whole.
This year, as part of project work undertaken for the Lancashire Care Association, PLMR secured a broadcast piece on the Association‟s key issue – unfair pricing demands from Lancashire PCTs for NHS patients receiving care in private care homes – featured on the BBC Politics Show North West. From obtaining a double page spread in Learning Disability Today to drafting the submission which saw Moyra Logue presented with the Special Needs Manager of the Year Award at the National Care Awards, it has been a fantastic year for Caring Homes Group, a key client of the company. Following worrying cuts in mental health services, PLMR ensured that Craegmoor’s Managing Director Ted Smith was published in The Times making clear that well-structured supported living is a viable option that best meets the needs of individuals suffering with poor mental health.
Following the appointment of a new Chief Executive to the BioIndustry Association, PLMR planned and executed a highly successful media relations strategy over Q2 and Q3 of 2010 to ensure that relationships were built and profile gained across national and sector press.
A PLMR-led programme of engagement with key journalists across national and sector media saw over a dozen high-level meetings set up and subsequent coverage in: The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, Dow Jones, International Tax Review, The Independent, Pharmaforum, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, and an appearance in a Financial Times Podcast .
PLMR worked with veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress to launch their three year £30m fundraising drive, “The Enemy Within Appeal”.
Embarked upon to encourage those silently suffering with mental trauma to come forward and seek help. After year one the success of the appeal has already outstripped all expectations. PLMR secured a media partnership with The Daily Telegraph, in which articles have been written by HRH The Prince of Wales, The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher, The Prime Minister David Cameron and former Army Chief of Staff Lord Dannatt to support the campaign. Since its launch in 2010, the appeal has already banked £15.2 million.
PLMR has previously provided Select Committee training to the President of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) ahead of an appearance in front of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
The session took the form of a full day of simulating a select committee environment, with members of the PLMR team asking questions reflecting both the content and style likely to be taken by MPs at the actual Committee session. Video footage of these exercises was then reviewed, followed by an in-depth discussion on how to hone key messages and brush up on communication skills under pressure.
The result of the session was a successful and confident appearance in front of the Select Committee.
“Thanks so much for doing the training today… [CFOA was] incredibility impressed with the in-depth knowledge you had of the subject, as well as the training itself and the pack to take away.”
Rhonda Bedford, Business Director, Chief Fire Officers Association
Why was the session a success?
- PLMR spend significant time planning and tailoring Select Committee training to our clients needs.
- In this case, PLMR conducted in-depth research into the subject of the Committee’s Inquiry – the controversial FiReControl project.
- This meant that the ‘mock’ questions asked were as close as possible to the real thing – and indeed many of the questions we asked came up in the subsequent Committee session.
- Realistic simulation of a Select Committee experience enabled the client to “iron out” any issues with their messaging and delivery – practice really does make perfect!
- Members of the PLMR have decades of collective experience in working in politics and public life, developing significant expertise in how MPs and Select Committees operate. This enables us to deliver genuinely realistic training sessions.
- Expert feedback and tips on how to succeed in getting a strong cohesive message across under pressure from our experienced team.
- PLMR provided packs with further tips, research and info (including a list of possible questions) for the client to take away and use in the run up to the Committee session.
- High quality facilities, with the option to play back practice sessions and discuss strengths and weaknesses in detail.
In 2010 PLMR helped a leading health & social care provider to consult with the local community in East Grinstead regarding plans for a new state-of-the-art care home in the area.
Planning Lobbying and Community Consultation in East Grinstead
Summary: PLMR recently helped a leading health & social care provider to consult with the local community in East Grinstead regarding plans for a new state-of-the-art care home in the area. PLMR’s role in helping our client to explain the benefits of the proposed new home to local residents, Ward Councillors, Planning Committee members and others was crucial in securing planning permission.
Open and effective community consultation: Just some of the actions PLMR undertook on behalf of our client included:
- Writing to residents, Councillors, and the local Member of Parliament.
- Planning and running a drop-in public exhibition at a venue close to the proposed site, at which over 30 residents and local Councillors viewed the plans and gave us their comments.
- Both positive feedback and constructive criticism from the community was taken on board and helped to hone the development of the client’s proposals before submission.
- Regular contact with Councillors and Planning Committee members, as well as the planning officers responsible for assessing the clients’ proposals, helped to build positive relations and iron out any problems in the run up to Committee determination.
On this project, PLMR helped our client to deal with a number of challenges which presented themselves during the course of the process, including:
- A small number of local residents objected to the plans on the basis that the area was at risk of flooding in the future. A resident wrote to the local newspaper on this issue. PLMR was able to engage directly with residents and the local newspaper to explain that significant steps had been taken to mitigate flood risk and ensure the safety of residents at all time as part of the proposals.
- A number of other concerns were raised – by the Town Council, by local residents, and by groups such as Sport England – regarding issues such as the proposed change in the use of the site (from a disused leisure facility to a care home), to parking and the proximity of the site to a local public house. PLMR wrote to relevant parties, including Planning Committee members, on behalf of our client responding in detail to each of these issues.
- Two local residents spoke in objection to the proposals at the Planning Committee meeting. PLMR Senior Consultant David Madden spoke on behalf of the client at this meeting responding to the concerns raised.
- Planning permission was granted with unanimously approval from the Planning Committee.
- Planning Committee members referred to our clients’ correspondence and David’s representations in their discussions on the proposals.
- The proactive commitment to consulting with the local community was noted by the Planning Committee
For us, this project demonstrated exactly why it is so important to be proactive in consulting with the local community on planning projects. Building great relationships with those you hope will be your neighbours in the near future is not only crucial to securing planning permission – it will also give your scheme a huge boost once it’s up and running.