Launching a new residential project is no small feat. Branding, media relations, social media, your sales strategy. With what feels like a never-ending number of crucial aspects to consider, it’s normal to forget a detail or two of your overarching marketing strategy.

One area that often gets overlooked, however, is arguably one of the most critical, non-negotiables of project marketing: your issues management plan.

A comprehensive strategy that outlines how a development team intends to manage risks, including unexpected challenges that may emerge during the development process, having a project-specific issues management strategy is vital and one worth investing in. Here’s why.

It Helps Manage Risks

Launching a new residential development comes with various risks and uncertainties. These can include zoning changes, legal or regulatory compliance updates, environmental hazards, and community opposition. When developers establish a strategic issues management plan, it helps to identify and mitigate these risks proactively. And should an actual issue arise, the plan will serve as a guideline for the development team to respond appropriately.

Every issues management plan should include what we at Talk Shop call a Scenario Matrix. This vital component of the plan outlines the scenarios that are most likely to arise during the development and project marketing phases, while offering detailed instructions on how to respond to each scenario. Being proactive versus reactive is hugely valuable and also instills confidence in your entire team. In an environment where any number of disasters can strike, proactivity is key.

It Ensures Greater Accountability

With an issues management plan in place, every project stakeholder understands their individual role and contribution in mitigating risks. That includes developers, contractors, and sub-contractors who work on the project. By incorporating a comprehensive plan, everyone involved knows the expected outcomes, reducing the potential for misunderstandings and decreasing potential legal disputes. In an environment rife with unpredictability, showing your stakeholders that you are aware of the risks and are committed to holding partners accountable is hugely valuable and helps to set your organization up for long-term success.

Builds Positive Relationships with Community Stakeholders

When it comes to a new build, your stakeholders extend far beyond just your project partners. Arguably, your biggest stakeholder and potential advocate can be the community in which you’re building. To rally the troops, so to speak, and generate positive public sentiment, one of the best tactics you can employ is proactive, honest, and thoughtful communication. A well-crafted issues management plan should outline how a developer intends to collaborate with the community to minimize negative effects and maximize positive outcomes. By treating every issue responsibly, the community will see developers in a favourable light, establishing the trust necessary for successful partnerships.

We work closely with our clients to ensure the community is reflected in every facet of their overarching communications strategy. How you engage with the community has a direct impact on every aspect of your launch, from sales to future developments. Not only is this a reason to have a thoughtful plan in place, but is reason enough to engage an expert to help you craft your issues management and communication plans.

Increases Efficiency

A specific issues management plan establishes a disciplined, methodical approach that guides the development team through every step of the project. This includes utilizing the best resources, processes, and tools to ensure the project runs smoothly and efficiently. The structured communication channels established by the plan facilitate an environment for collaboration and timely problem-solving when issues arise. This enables developers to identify and address concerns early before they escalate into larger issues that can derail project completion.

Protects Investors' Reputation

New residential developments carry significant financial implications, especially for investors. Negative publicity can harm the real estate company's reputation, discourage investment, and jeopardize existing and future residential developments. Reputation risk can hurt a company's strategic goals, including market share, operational efficiency, and financial stability. With a comprehensive issues management plan that integrates response guidelines and protocols, stakeholders can effectively present their residential developments in a positive light while maintaining the ability to innovate and adapt to market trends and emerging opportunities.

Without question, developing a new residential property is a complex endeavour that comes with inherent uncertainties and risks. As developments continue to grow in complexity, whether through state-of-the-art amenities or increased height, so do the risks associated with a new build. Prioritizing the safety of your team and the community at large should remain at the forefront of every plan, and having a dialled-in communications strategy developed by a team of communications professionals will serve you well. Remember, the best issues management plan is the one you don’t have to use.