Developing a strategic approach to a change management programme for a major government-owned infrastructure company


Over the next three years, the client has several key objectives to meet including delivering 60 new transport-related infrastructure projects. To do this it must change the way staff and consultant teams work, which will mean adopting new working practices and tools.

There was cynicism across the business as to whether the change management programmewould work, with some staff members feeling change was happening “to them” rather than “with them”.


To begin with, Copper Consultancy developed a narrative and key messaging document for the project. This would ensure the business (over 5,000 staff) would speak with one voice and clarity about the programme. Secondly, Copper developed an OASIS communications strategy to make sure there was a step-by-step approach to both internal and external communications.

This approach meant there was a consistency of message and voice regardless of who was being communicated to (staff, supply change, media, politicians, etc). By minimising misinformation and driving clarity, trust would be built through the organisationabout the change programme.


The OASIS framework was adopted unanimously by all directorates and work began engaging with staff. This included a Town Hall style webinar for employees and the development of a video that could be shared across all internal channels.

As well as this, a social media strategy was developed for the Executive Team. This recommended a series of approaches to help position and promote senior leaders as influencers and thought-leaders on specific social channels such as Linked-In, further building trust with external stakeholders.

The change management project is still progressing, and by utilisingthe OASIS Framework developed by Copper, several ‘pilot’ schemes have been implemented within the programmeand received positive feedback from staff and consultant teams.

  • Engagement with infrastructure projects across the UK is generally low, with nearly 1 in two people (49.2%) saying that they have never taken part in a consultation about local services, issues or projects. 
  • People who have lived in their property for a year or less are more likely to have taken part in a consultation within the last five months than someone who has lived at their property for 10years or more. 

Today (04 August 2022), Copper Consultancy released the final report in its latest three-part Attitudes series. The report explores the connection between “belonginess” and closeness to community with levels of engagement with infrastructure projects.  

Findings show that the closer and more connected someone feels to their community, the more likely they are to participate in consultations about local, issues, services and projects.   

The report, title ‘Does community matter?’, uses several questions to identify how close people feel to their community, including questions about how much they trust other people in their community, if people feel they can influence things locally and how actively engaged they are with their local area.  

Data shows that those who have higher levels of trust; feel they have more influence about decisions in their local area people; and report that they are active members of their local area are far more likely to engage than the national average.  

Based on a nationally representative UK sample of 4,004 respondents, 49.2% said that they never taken part in a consultation about local services, issues or projects. This figure dropped to 40.4% for people who said they trust people in their local area, dropped further (35.2%) for those who said that they feel like they have influence over things that happen in their local area, and dropped further still (20.1%) for those who said they were active members of their community.   

The report also explored If time spent living in a property contributed to engagement, with surprising results.  

Data suggests that those who have lived at their property for less than a year are the most likely to have taken part in a consultation about local services, Issues or projects. 62.2% of people surveyed who had been in their property for less than a year said that they had taken part in a local consultation within the last five months. Whereas only 14.5% of those who have lived at their property for 10 years or more said they had taken part in a local consultation within the last 5 months.  

Annabel John, Director of Strategic Communications & Creative at Copper Consultancy, reflected on the series of reports saying: “This series of reports confirmed some things that we knew, challenged some deep-rooted perceptions which we thought to be truth and uncovered insights and intelligence that will help reshape the way we engage with people and communities in support of our clients.

“The value of investing in research to better understand audiences and stakeholders cannot be overlooked and if we were to take one thing away from this work, it would be that it’s time we started communicating with people as people, taking account of their differences, traits and behaviours, rather than thinking of them as sections of the planning act.”  

You can read the full report here

The third in our three-part Attitudes series exploring how different people think and feel about infrastructure.

  • Age does not necessarily correlate with levels of involvement with local issues.
  • Only 24% of the UK population are actively engaged with projects that impact in their local area.
  • Younger people are more likely to engage with projects as a result of increased use of digital.

Copper Consultancy has today (28 July 2022) released the second of three reports in its Attitudes series. The new report looks at the impact of age on levels of engagement in infrastructure projects and shows that the correlation between age and engagement is not as strong as expected.

A common assumption in the infrastructure industry is that individuals who typically engage with planning applications and consultations are from an older age demographic. However, Copper’s research, informed by a nationally representative survey of 4,004 people, tells a different story.

The report “Does age matter?” found little correlation between the age of individuals and their level of engagement with projects impacting their local area. Around 40% of people between the ages of 16 and 45 say they would get involved if there was a problem in their local area – this dropped to around 30% for older age demographics.

In fact, younger demographics were more likely than older people to consider themselves an active member of their local area. This was further evidenced when respondents were asked how often they take part in local consultations. Over 50% of people aged between 16-24 said they had engaged with consultation about local services or issues in the last 5 months, for individuals over 55 this fell to 14.61%

Increased engagement from younger age groups is an encouraging sign for our industry, but Copper urges caution to those considering pivoting towards wholly digital consultation.

The uptake of digital communication methods, like virtual meetings and consultation spaces, following the pandemic has increased the number of engagement tools at our disposal, but digital is not a panacea for low levels of engagement. Providing engagement opportunities for younger demographics to engage through digital means needs to be one element of a multifaceted approach to engagement – a one size fits all approach could lead to a lack of representation of older people in the built environment.

Annabel John, Strategic Communications and Creative Director at Copper Consultancy said: “Our new report shows the link between age and involvement with projects is not a strong as we previously thought. This shows the value of using data and statistics to uncover deeper insights into the various audiences we engage with.

“Our insight suggests projects should combine digital engagement and traditional approaches to achieve greater reach. In doing so, we can encourage better inclusivity and representativeness of the views and opinions we collect during the application and consultation process.”

Copper Consultancy is constantly seeking to build an even deeper understanding of the infrastructure industry by investing time and resources to understand how people think and feel about the built environment that serves them.

Copper’s ‘Attitudes’ series of reports are designed to take a deep dive into the UK population to better understand audiences and help clients create the legacy that projects wish to leave behind.

You can read the full report here.

The second in our three-part Attitudes series exploring how different people think and feel about infrastructure.

  • Almost a third of the UK population have little or no knowledge about infrastructure.
  • 78.9% of people without any knowledge of infrastructure say they never engage in projects.
  • The more knowledge an individual has, the more likely they are to engage with projects.

Copper Consultancy has today (21 July) released the first of a three-part series of reports exploring the UK population’s relationship with infrastructure. The first report, ‘Does infrastructure knowledge matter?’, explores the link between a person’s willingness to engage with projects and their knowledge of infrastructure and the built environment.

This hypothesis was tested with a comprehensive survey answered by a nationally representative sample of 4,004 people across the UK.

The survey data suggested that there is a strong correlation between infrastructure knowledge and willingness to engage in projects. Research showed that nearly 80% of people who felt that they had no knowledge about infrastructure had never engaged with a infrastructure project. For people who regularly read about infrastructure and felt they were knowledgeable about the industry, this number fell to 23.1%.

In addition, there are higher levels of reported knowledge and engagement in sub-sets of the UK population – people with higher incomes, those living in Greater London and males.

Nearly a third of respondents reported little to no knowledge of infrastructure, which suggests the views of a large portion of the population are currently underrepresented in key infrastructure projects across the country.

This demonstrates the need to better understand how people respond and interact with projects in different ways. Content can then be tailored to access wider audiences, which will result in the involvement of more people in the decision making process and ensure no groups are left behind – despite their knowledge of infrastructure (or any other variables that are linked to lower engagement).

Annabel John, Director of Strategic Communications and Creative at Copper Consultancy, commented on the release of the report:

“We are delighted to release the first of our three-part Attitudes series exploring how different people think and feel about infrastructure.

“Our research shows that infrastructure knowledge really does matter and as an industry we need to do more to engage with wider audiences using more accessible content.

“This will help make projects more representative of different views and ensure the benefits of infrastructure are felt by everyone.”

Copper Consultancy is constantly seeking to build an even deeper understanding of the infrastructure industry by investing time and resources to understand how people think and feel about the infrastructure that serves them.

Copper’s ‘Attitudes’ series of reports are designed to take a deep dive into the UK population to better understand audiences and help clients create the legacy that projects wish to leave behind.

You can read the full report here: Does infrastructure knowledge matter?

Copper abides by a fundamental principle: we build understanding before we act.

We’ve measured public attitudes to infrastructure for over five years, seeking to build a picture of the perception of infrastructure and development in the UK. We’ve looked at everything from what people think about net zero and solar energy, to the public’s understanding of freeports and attitudes to infrastructure in Brexit Britain.

We are constantly seeking to build an even deeper understanding of our industry and invest time and resources to understand our clients’ audiences because we care about the challenges people face and the legacy that projects wish to leave behind. Above all, we seek to understand what people think and feel about the infrastructure that serves them.

That’s why in the latest of our Attitudes series we’ve taken a different approach. We’ve taken a deep dive into the UK population to unearth the attributes, attitudes and willingness of people to engage with projects affecting the built environment. Using information derived from an in-depth research project into the UK population, we’re launching a report series that tests:

  • Hypothesis 1 – are people more likely to engage with projects if they are more knowledgeable about infrastructure and the built environment?
  • Hypothesis 2 – are older people more likely to engage with infrastructure projects?
  • Hypothesis 3 – does a person’s sense of connection to their local area impact how likely they are to engage with infrastructure projects?

In this three-part series of attitudes reports (released over the next two weeks), we’ll explore our hypotheses and identify some of the elements that lead to higher levels of engagement in our sector.

What is Audience Segmentation?

Alongside the reports, we’ve carried out a study on the UK population to develop a deeper insight into what people think and feel about the infrastructure that serves them. The purpose is to categorise the population into segments to identify people’s key drivers and behaviour patterns to help shape the best ways to communicate.

Marketing professionals have used audience segmentation since the 1950s and the concept is a simple one: people are different. We all have different wants, needs, attitudes and behaviours and, therefore, we should employ different approaches to move people to “action”.

Traditionally, “actions” might relate to consumer behaviours like buying a product, but audience segmentation is used increasingly across a wide range of sectors, from B2B marketing to election campaigns.

While no two people are the same, there are inevitable demographic, geographic, attitudinal and behavioural commonalities across the UK population. By collecting a large enough sample size, and employing advanced statistical analysis techniques, we’ve identified patterns in our data to group people based on shared characteristics and responses.

Grouping people in this way provides insights into how different people think and behave, and this approach provides us with layers of information that we can use to tailor our communication and engagement strategies around infrastructure and development projects, helping to differentiate content and messaging and select communication channels to better resonate with different audiences.

To find out how our data could help your project, get in touch with or

Copper Consultancy has become the communications and engagement partner for UKRI’s £210 million Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC).

UKRI launched the IDC to support the reduction of carbon emissions in the six largest industrial clusters in the UK by providing funding for deploying technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen fuel switching as well as developing a blueprint to achieve net-zero emissions for each industrial cluster, which will become the legacy of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge.

The clusters represent hundreds of businesses, charities and governmental bodies with over 1.5 million employees across the UK. This presented a challenge in developing a cohesive communication approach that resulted in all clusters, and their members, understanding the goals of the IDC and having an equal opportunity to access its investment.

To meet this challenge, Copper was chosen as UKRI’s communications partner to develop a strategy and plan to raise awareness of the IDC with key stakeholders and increase overall engagement with the clusters. Copper worked closely with the IDC team every step of the way to ensure they retained ownership of the overarching strategic direction.

We started by spending time with key members of the IDC team to better understand challenges the organisation faces and areas of opportunity. This initial interaction also allowed us to query, challenge and refine the initial brief based on our expert insight. Through this process we established clear objectives to build a strategy from.

Based on the newly honed objectives, Copper conducted a series of interviews with communication and project leads from each of the 6 industrial clusters. The information drawn from the interviews was recorded anonymously to encourage respondents to provide honest and open answers, which we used to build our initial strategy.

We presented our analysis of the themes that stood out in the interviews at a messaging and strategy workshop with the IDC.  During the meeting we tested our initial strategic approach and utilised an interactive online workspace to allow the IDC members to brainstorm key messages. The IDC team came from diverse backgrounds, which provided different viewpoints based on their areas of expertise. This insight was valuable as it allowed Copper to understand where the team aligned and differed on key messaging themes.

Following the meeting, we compiled all the insights from our research and the workshop to produce a well-informed, collaborative communication and engagement strategy that met all of IDC’s objectives. Alongside this strategy, we created a tiered implementation plan with different levels of activity which would contribute to the IDC’s growing awareness with audiences and engagement with key stakeholders.

With the Conservative leadership election underway, we chart the candidates’ experience, supporters and comments on development and infrastructure.

Check out our analysis here:

Conservative party leadership contest