Community Outreach & Public Relations
As the physical foundations are laid for a new community, local residents may have concerns about changes to the place they call home. It takes relationship building and authentic information sharing to lay a foundation of trust and respect between the developer and existing community members.
At more than 9,000 acres in size and up to 15,000 homes, Silverwood (set to open in 2024) will be one of the largest, newly planned communities in Southern California.
Developed by renowned place maker DMB Development, Silverwood is situated in Hesperia, Calif., a city of just under 100,000 residents in the Mojave River Valley. It’s known for having an affordable mix of multifamily housing and sizable single-family homesites, a warm climate, scenic desert landscapes, and a small-town quality of life.
As development of Silverwood is set in motion, infrastructure projects like road, bridge, and utility work can come with potential challenges for current residents.
One such project involved improvements to streets near the neighborhood high school and leading to Silverwood’s entrance. It involved the relocation and upgrade of power and water lines, temporarily blocking the entrance to an apartment complex for residents aged 55 and older—a scenario that was ripe for anxiety and angst among community members.
That’s where we came in.
“Silverwood’s developer wanted to reach out to the residents who would be most impacted by the road improvements and that led to engaging our Cohere team for the creation of a robust community outreach program,” says Todd Hornback, Cohere chief advancement officer.
We know trust and mutual respect are vital in the development and long-term success of a community, and both are earned through authentic communication and relationship building. That’s where we excel. We understand the people factor, and we know it’s crucial to build bridges between the developer and the established community.
Our mission with Silverwood was to develop an outreach campaign to Hesperia residents who were generally unaccustomed to large-scale planned communities, and who would be impacted by construction not far from their doorsteps.
We spent time listening, learning, and considering the community’s identity, history, and shared values. We watched how information organically spread among neighbors and became attuned to how and when community concerns could arise.
Community members needed to be given multiple opportunities to ask questions and get answers, so we collaborated with the Silverwood development team and the City of Hesperia to produce printed communication pieces (formal letters, friendly postcards, welcoming invitations) that were clear, forthcoming, and informative. We spoke with construction managers who became inspired to knock on doors and personally engage with residents.
We also planned opportunities to meet in person where we could listen, respond, and build rapport. We held “community cafes” every six weeks at a local middle school where homeowners, apartment dwellers, city representatives, business leaders, non-profit organizers, educators, and community connectors were invited to drop in, grab a drink, and learn about the development and its expected construction.
“We were essentially saying ‘here we are, nothing’s a secret, come stop by and talk with us,’” says Todd. “And while you’re here we can share with you the site plan and proposed homesites, express how the community will sit quietly on the land, and show the positive impact to the local economy.”
“The vibe was predominately positive as neighbors genuinely wanted to know about Silverwood and appreciated the opportunity to meet and ask questions,” says Rhiannon Miett, Cohere client engagement manager.
We connected with local teachers who showed up unsure about the change coming to their community and left feeling optimistic about new schools planned for their district. We hired a hometown coffee vendor to serve refreshments who’s now dreaming about opening a shop in Silverwood.
The hope is that those who stopped by will go back and tell other community members what they learned, sparking interest in the project, and spreading good vibes about what’s to come.
“Whether or not they call Silverwood home, it’s important that neighbors are proud to have this place in their community,” says Todd.
We help our developer partners become good neighbors from day one, building positive sentiment and public support for the project at hand. We plan and activate outreach campaigns that convey a project’s timeline, process, and impact on the area. And we orchestrate opportunities to gather and say ‘Hi neighbor, it’s so nice to meet you. We’re happy to be here.’Visit Website