The Listening Post

Listening Post Communities

Are you ready for business with the US?

Brexit definitely now, means Brexit. Irrespective of whether later this year the UK path involves a soft EU friendly transition or a harder WTO terms exit, significant changes to for example regulatory conditions and supply chain circumstances are inevitable.

A British General Election will take place at some point during the assumed timescale.

The project would remain viable in the event of changes to these core assumptions, for example if Brexit didn’t mean Brexit and or the trade and investment scenario reverts to an EU US platform; or if there is a so called ‘hard Brexit’ on WTO terms.



The project methodology is based on the selection via Parliamentary constituency of places to be featured.

Type of location

In each place selected for feature a location is identified, typically a school, council office, business or community centre and two one hour sessions held on the same day.

Types of company

Ideal attendance for each event would be around 30 people from a broad cross section of citizens segmented by age, diversity and occupation.

Duration and timing

One session would be held at 8.30 - 9.30am and the other at 12.30 - 1.30pm. Timings are to accommodate working families. Each session would be accompanied by a 30 minute networking session in advance.

Each one hour session would be conducted as a focus group style conversation led by a moderator with an introduction and a conversational style question based approach. Focus group selection and attendance would largely follow market research methodological approaches.

Themes to be covered

Section 1 – types of questions

  • What countries have people visited?
  • What are the things that you feel characterised the place you visited?
  • What countries would people like to live in?
  • What do people think about when they think about international trade and investment?
  • What do people think about when they think about international trade and investment with the US
  • Is International trade and investment a good thing?
  • What are the alternatives to international trade and investment?
  • What do people worry about when they think about international trade and investment?
  1. Jobs
  2. Consumer safety
  3. Data privacy
  4. NHS
  5. Big Banks
  6. Immigration

An additional set of questions will probe attitudes towards specific companies and their behaviours, such as tax payment, executive pay and any cross linkages that are provoked in the broader policy range questions.

Potential partners

  • A likeable moderator
  • Constituency MPs
  • British Chambers of Commerce
  • British American Business Council chapters
  • BritishAmerican Business
  • Department of International Trade
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • US Embassy
  • Centre for Global Prosperity
  • OECD
  • Pew Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • LEPS
  • Local authorities
  • Local schools

Marketing and communications

The project would be accompanied by a modest marketing and communications mix at this stage;

  • To provide basic information about the logistics and purpose of the project

  • To operate with complete transparency from the get go

  • To deliver an explicit report out location by location included in the mix

  • To deliver a full series report out

  • To deliver information about sponsors and partners

Communications and marketing are important and distinctive aspects of the project as we seek to build a national brand identity and proposition for the project around the basic structure of a localised focus group style event, connecting regular people to themes that aren’t often covered in their communities, and with a style of engagement that is rarely present outside political election times.

If resources are available creative communications might seek to ‘big up’ and empower local community identification and build confidence to engage around subject matters from a position of local self esteem rather than guinea pig policy laboratory fodder.

The core communication tool is a ‘Listening Post - the mike is yours’ website as a content hub built around the unfolding story of a journey around some of the UK’s ‘hidden gem’ places inhabited by the real people encountered at the events. We aim to celebrate these places and the folk that you don’t always hear about while we trying to open a dialogue about key themes in trade, globalisation and individual viewpoints on the facts at hand leading to future paths for policy making. The website operates as mission control with content about the people and the places visited, a You Tube channel link for cheap publication of visual content from events, modest narrative content on matters arising and social media feeds. As the series progresses the data survey work becomes additional content available to substantiate the Listening Post world and data set.

Marketing and event location promotion are mainly by network, word of mouth and website traffic. Putting 30 people with a local connection in a room is more challenging than it appears, but as the worked example shows there is a large available network of connections to work with - which of course narrows down the ask to identifying people to three or four per connection.

Relationship with Trade Towns project

Like the ‘Listening Post’ project the ‘Trade Town Companies - Are you ready for business in the US’ series idea is about having a local conversation about things that have traditionally been run in a macro way, like trade promotion capacity.

Potential partners

National partners

The Listening Post model is new in this area, and traditional national partners like BABC, BCC, IOE, CBI, DIT and FCO would be encouraged to make a contribution of some combination of brand, intellectual property and money. Identification and procurement of commercial partners is also key and the role of foundations and bodies interested in broader challenges facing civil society likely to be more important.

Local partners

Local BABC chapters and affiliates of core national partners will be potential local partners along with LEPs, Local authorities, Local MPS and councillors, national and international businesses with local roots, and local businesses. For ‘Listening Post’ an ideal location partner would be a local school or educational institution so as to place the dialogue in a future focused environment not biased towards any particular sector or constituency.


The Project Leader is Jeffries Briginshaw

The Project is supported by a single dedicated resource located inside the Project Secretariat who will work with the Project Leader. The Project will need funding from sponsors and will have costs.


  1. Agreement on core project partners
  2. Agreement on a three event pilot first stage with cut off point
  3. Engagement of a dedicated project resource
  4. Engagement of a likeable moderator
  5. Delivery of three event pilot Listening Posts first stage, review and adjustment
  6. Delivery of further seven further Listening Post events
  7. At 75% complete stage review of case for a second series in 2019
  8. Delivery of Listening Post first series report out

Worked examples

  • NG6 - Bulwell, North Nottingham, Nottinghamshire population 30,000
  • Political economy and potential partners
  • Nottingham North Constituency - Alex Norris MP
  • Nottingham City Council - Councillor Nick McDonald Bulwell Forest Ward Councillor and Cabinet Member for Growth and Transport
  • East Midlands Region European Parliamentary constituency (LEWER, MCCLARKIN, WILLMOTT,HELMER, PARKER)
  • D2N2 LEP Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, Nottingham - Board Members include Peter Gadsby Ark Capital, David Williams MD Butt Foods and Chair D2N2 Growth Hub Project Board, Melanie Ulyatt - One to One Support Services and Board Representative for SME engagement)
  • Nottinghamshire County Council - N2 Skills and Employment Board
  • Schools and Colleges
  • The Bulwell Academy
  • Basford Hall Learning Centre
  • New College Nottingham
  • Nottingham University
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Marketing Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (nb tourism and fdi mandate but not export)
  • We Love Bulwell
  • USUK historical links - Pilgrim fathers were from North Nottinghamshire, Brewster and Bradford, Mayflower 400 project


  • East Midlands Chamber, Nottingham Office
  • Leadership cohort of major Nottingham based businesses includes Boots, Experian
  • Opportunity cohort of Nottingham businesses include Butt Foods eg (bakery solutions for food services sector with a UK/EU trade footprint)
  • Bulwell businesses - LAC Conveyor Systems, Charles Park Industrial Estate


  • The Bulwell Academy (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce School of the year 2013) Squires Avenue, Bulwell, Nottingham, NG6 8HG