Engagement with stakeholders is an important part of any decision-making or policy assessment process. Appropriate engagement requires a good understanding of the needs of the audience and the aim of the engagement, whether this is for discussion of options or impacts, assistance with decision-making and option selection, or dissemination of research findings and final decisions.
Stakeholder engagement tends to be a two-way process, with information being provided to stakeholders, and opinions, views and information also being collected from stakeholders to help inform assessment, appraisal and research work. Stakeholder consultation is generally more of a one-way process, and is typically used to collect information to help fill data gaps, provide evidence on specific questions and reduce uncertainty by obtaining expert input. In this case, experts can be anyone from technical and professional people to those who live in a particular area and have an intimate knowledge of the local environment and the way that environment reacts or changes over time.
Almost all of our work requires consultation and/or engagement and we endeavour to provide approaches that best meet the needs of those who we are approaching for their expert views, their information and data, their feedback and opinions, and their comments and responses. The aims are always to help improve the robustness of our research by ‘ground truthing’ and testing our assumptions, and to work with those affected to help them adapt to any consequential change by involving them in the decision-making process that is driving and managing such a change.
Our expertise covers both engagement and consultation, and incorporates a whole range of different techniques and approaches. We tailor the approaches and techniques that we use not only to the specific requirements of each project, but also to the specific needs of the stakeholders and consultees with whom we are engaging. This can involve direct contact with individuals and organisations through face-to-face meetings, workshops and drop-in sessions, telephone discussions and teleconferences, email contact, questionnaires and surveys or preparation of dissemination materials. We use a range of different media for these purposes too, again, tailored to the target audience. The use of social media is an increasingly important tool to enable us to reach as many stakeholders as possible, or to provide mechanisms through which they can provide their views at a time and in a way that suit them best.
If you would like further information, please contact our experts below.