Insights article

How to promote your online planning consultation to residents

Sebastian Weise
Published: 29/03/2023

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Promoting online planning consultation is crucial for ensuring that local residents engage in your consultation project. When considering budgets for consultation it is often easy to forget that promotion plays a key role if residents hear about the project. If residents don’t hear about a project, it means you will have reduced levels of response, a potential lower level of representativeness, and fewer insights.

With the rise of digital technology, it has become easier than ever before to engage with citizens online and gather their feedback on important issues. However, reaching a wide range of local residents and generating awareness for online planning consultations can be challenging. 

Promote your online planning consultation - overview of methods, cost, and impact

In this article, we will explore 8 ideas on how to promote online planning consultation and discuss the importance of tracking promotion success.

Send a letter

One of the most effective ways to promote online planning consultation is to send a letter to local residents. This letter can provide information about the consultation process, the importance of citizen feedback, and instructions on how to participate in the consultation.

PlaceChangers consultation automations provide you with the ability to look for local resident households and assists in the delivery of personalised postal consultation invitations. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 6/10
  • Impact: 10/10

Use Facebook groups

Facebook groups can be a great way to reach a large number of local residents quickly. By joining or creating relevant groups and sharing information about the online planning consultation, you can engage with a wide range of people and encourage them to participate.

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 1/10
  • Impact: 6/10

Use paid social media ads: 

Paid social media ads can be a powerful tool for promoting online planning consultation. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow you to target specific demographics based on location, age, interests, and other factors. There’s potential for wide reach. However, social media often has limitations in terms of place-based targeting. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 2/10
  • Impact: 2/10

Use newspapers: 

Local newspapers can be an effective way to reach older residents who may not be as active on social media. Consider placing an ad or writing an article about the online planning consultation in your local newspaper. Many local newspapers let you submit articles for promotion for free, however, there will be limits to the number of external links to your consultation, so you may need to pay more. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 3/10
  • Impact: 5/10

Use email newsletters

If your city or town has an email newsletter, this can be a great way to promote online planning consultation. Include a brief summary of the consultation and a link to the relevant website or survey. Local email newsletters can be a great way to generate awareness especially if there are well-recognised organisations who have an existing mailing list. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 1/10
  • Impact: 5/10

Use flyers

Flyers can be a low-cost way to promote online planning consultation. Distribute them in community centers, libraries, and other public spaces where local residents are likely to congregate. High quality printed banners may be more effective to raise awareness from those who walk past them. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 4/10
  • Impact: 6/10

Partner with local organisations

Partnering with local organisations like community groups, neighbourhood associations, and business associations can help you reach a wider audience. These organisations can help spread the word about the online planning consultation and encourage their members to participate. Local organisations often have a substantive following and goodwill locally. If you can use this method, you should. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 2/10
  • Impact: 10/10

Use radio ads

Local radio stations can be an effective way to reach a wide range of local residents. Consider placing a radio ad promoting the online planning consultation. This can be a valid method for large projects with significant reach. 

Cost vs promotion impact: 

  • Cost: 8/10
  • Impact: 6/10

Tracking promotion success

Tracking the success of your promotion efforts for your planning consultation is essential for understanding what works and what doesn't. By tracking metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and survey responses, you can gain valuable insights into which promotion methods are most effective. This information can help you adjust your strategy and ensure that you are reaching the widest possible audience.

Using tracked links and QR codes can be an effective way to associate promotion success with specific promotion methods. Tracked links are URLs that are customized with a unique identifier that allows you to track how many people clicked on the link and where they came from. QR codes are scannable codes that can be placed on flyers, posters, and other promotional materials. By tracking the number of scans, you can gain insights into which promotion methods are most effective.

For promotion success, there are a number of metrics to watch to determine if your promotion is successful. One key metric is the click through or open rate for your promotion method. If the open rate is low it can mean a number of things, such as 1) that your message does not stick; 2) materials are unclear; and you might need to experiment. 

Tools like the promotion report on PlaceChangers make it simple to document your promotion success, including engagement over time, and the response rates, which are an important metric to determine if the consultation is performing well. 

Document the promotion of your planning consultation

Keeping a paper trail of what's posted where is essential for ensuring accountability and transparency in your online planning consultation process. By documenting all the promotional materials you have used, where you have posted them, and when they were posted, you can ensure that you have a record of your promotional efforts and can address any concerns or questions that arise.

Furthermore, keeping a paper trail can also help you comply with any legal or regulatory requirements related to online planning consultations. For example, some jurisdictions may require you to document all promotional efforts in order to demonstrate that you have made a good faith effort to engage with local residents.

Keep a log of what has been posted, when, and what materials were used for the promotion, ideally by linking to the PDF or promotional material. For social media posts it also helps to retain a link to the relevant social media post so to review any comments received against a set of posts at a later date. 

Documentation is key to easy reference. Definitively do it - it will save hours of work later on.



In conclusion, promoting online planning consultation is essential for ensuring that local residents have a say in the development of their communities.

By using a variety of promotion methods and tracking their success, you can reach a wide range of local residents and gather valuable feedback on important issues.

Digital platforms and tools such as PlaceChangers engagement tools help to capture promotion success and keep a paper trail of the promotion activities. 

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