Challenge

    Ealing Council bought Kanda on board to support their proposals for redeveloping a landmark Leisure Centre in their borough. Given the significant political and local opposition, reflected in widespread negative media coverage across London, we were tasked with developing an external communications strategy to ease the proposals journey.

    Action

    For any new approach to be effective, we needed buy-in from the council client team. Initial engagements helped us grasp the governance direction, how the current proposal addressed previous issues and all other considerations with the Leisure Centre. We conducted a communications audit and stocktake of the previous proposal, integrating it with our strategic recommendations. These focused on the council’s ownership of the new proposal, transparently addressing building requirements on Metropolitan Open Land and proactively managing residential and funding issues, ensuring opposition groups did not control the narrative.

    Our demonstration of thorough research built trust with the client team, leading to their support of our approach. This included developed overarching messaging and Q&As to highlight the importance of the new Leisure Centre. The messaging gave effect to our recommendations, securing buy-in from the client team. We proceeded to brief the Council’s press team on the proactive strategy and next necessary steps from them. This led to consistent messaging in the public domain, reinforced through our recommended press releases, strategic social media content and proactive media engagement, aiming to keep the client ahead of the narrative and positive momentum grew ahead of public consultation.

    Result

    An initial public consultation was held in 2023 with broad public support and without negative sentiment in the media and social media. Our communication materials were utilised by local media, ensuring positive messages were communicated. Compared to the negative commentary of the previous proposal, our approach so far has proved to be successful. Our high trust relationship with the client continues, as they are pleased with the efficacy of our approaches and the resulting lack of adverse public sentiment.

    Testimonial

    “We have been working with Kanda to develop a strategic communications and public engagement programme for updated proposals to redevelop a landmark Leisure Centre in our borough. The previous proposals faced vocal opposition and negative media coverage, so our objective was to embed trust within our community and emphasise the merits of these new proposals. Kanda assisted us in creating a thorough public engagement programme, which included a mix of digital and in-person activities aimed at maximising engagement with residents across the borough. At the same time, Kanda’s proactive approach to external communications included a comprehensive audit to understand historic challenges as well as detailed key messaging to set out our updated communications approach.”

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