“The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks.”—Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 2005

People who are ahead of the curve with new technologies are often dismissed. But if there is one lesson I learned from working for a political party, it is that you can never pass up on an opportunity to innovate in a crowded field.

Back in 2015, I worked for a political party in Bristol. It was a challenge to effectively engage with people living in the area. Three parties were within touching distance of winning the seat, making it difficult to get yourself and your message noticed in the fray. The leaflets we popped through people’s doors weren’t always read beyond the headline, and mostly reached people of a similar demographic. The transient student population was harder to contact and build relationships with.

These are the same challenges often found in the context of public consultation for property developments.

When advertising on social media can be actioned so cheaply, it seems foolish to not take advantage of another way of engaging people and add another weapon to our arsenal. But as a report last week from the British Property Foundation showed, there is even greater opportunity for innovation – which is mostly ignored in the sector.

One of their key recommendations is to put digital skills and innovative behaviours at the forefront of the industry, embedding the need for innovation across the sector. This is particularly important when it comes to public consultation. They set out a clear case that using digital formats helps to engage a wider range of audiences, particularly those who are hard to reach with other methods.

This does not mean that digital consultation can replace more traditional methods of engagement. But when used in conjunction with more traditional formats, it can help to achieve wider reaching, more effective consultation.

This need for digital innovation is at the forefront of what we at Snapdragon deliver for our clients. A recent project for a client included the creation of an efficient, dedicated website for the scheme, nicknamed ‘Mapdragon’, which enabled visitors to leave feedback for the project team to view.

This Mapdragon is only one aspect in an ever-evolving journey to create truly effective consultations which reach not only far, but wide.