A review of communication and engagement with NSW Government stakeholders

COMMUNICATION STRATEGY & PLANNING | STAKEHOLDER & INDUSTRY RESEARCH | STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY | B2B ENGAGEMENT

Stakeholder research and advice designed to improve engagement and build effective relationships to guide decision making.

CLIENT

Department of Planning and Environment

Challenge

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (the Department) approached The LKB Agency (LKB) to help them better understand how to engage with their government stakeholders and partners, on matters of planning and place. The Department wanted to improve engagement with stakeholders to better facilitate planning and place decision making in NSW.

Working with multiple delivery agencies and government stakeholders, the Department needed a cohesive engagement strategy and consistent way of communicating with their stakeholders, to foster better relationships and to streamline decision making with agencies.

Following the initial review and recommendations, LKB was reengaged again in 2022 and 2023 to assess the Department’s progress against the seven principles for engagement and 12 key recommendations.

Strategy

In 2020 and 2021 LKB delivered an in-depth review of the Department’s current engagement activities and touch points, including a series of qualitative interviews with key government stakeholders and with the internal Department teams responsible for engagement. Over a two-month period, LKB interviewed 38 external stakeholders across 11 different agencies, from senior Department officials to project managers, to identify gaps and opportunities for engagement. One of LKB’s key recommendations was the development and implementation of a consistent Framework for engagement and a 12 month communication and engagement strategy, including upskilling Department teams to improve engagement skills.

Following the completion of the review in 2021, LKB was asked to design a ‘pulse check’ method to measure and evaluate the Department’s engagement with their stakeholders and their progress against the initial key recommendations year on year.

LKB developed a reputational index to measure stakeholder perception of the Department against their seven key engagement principles which was sent via a quantitative survey. Stakeholders who were interviewed in the first year were also invited to participate in a yearly qualitative survey to share updated sentiments. LKB also invited new stakeholders that were identified by the Department between reviews.

In 2022 LKB completed 74 qualitative interviews with external and internal stakeholders across 21 agencies and in 2023, LKB conducted 51 qualitative interviews with internal and external stakeholders across 25 agencies.

Following the yearly reviews LKB have shared with the Department stakeholder insights and key themes that informed a summary of findings and actionable recommendations.

Results

In the first year, LKB produced an in-depth report sighting five key areas for improvement and 12 recommendations to close the gaps and maximise opportunities for engagement which set up the ability to measure success year on year.

In 2022 and 2023, LKB has been asked to review success against findings in the first year to track progress.

In 2020 and 2021:

Stakeholder interviews with 38 external stakeholders across 11 government agencies.

92% of agencies responsible for working relationships with planning and place were engaged.

The review reached more than 40% of NSW Government agencies.

Development of a Stakeholder Engagement Framework to guide the three key planning and place divisions.

Development of a 12 month engagement strategy.

LKB was asked to return in 2022 to complete a stakeholder ‘pulse check’.

In 2022:

Development of final report and recommendations.

Identified that the stakeholder position on the Department’s reputation increased against 2021.

Identified key areas of improvement to be:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Consistency in engagement and decision making
  • Internal culture and process
  • Education and information sharing
  • Whole of government approach

Development of a 12 month engagement action plan which builds on previous years engagement strategies and includes quick wins, medium term actions and longer-term actions.

8 key recommendations identified in the final report.

In 2023:

Development of final report and recommendations.

Identified an additional increase in stakeholder position against 2022.

Identified key areas of improvement to be:

  • Consistency and continuity of engagement and communication
  • Knowledge sharing between agencies
  • Tailored engagement with smaller agencies
  • Purpose, format and content of meetings
  • Sharing priorities and strategic direction

Development of a 12 month engagement action plan which builds on previous years engagement strategies and includes quick wins, medium term actions and longer-term actions.

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