INSTITUTE for MEDIA, POLICY and CIVIL SOCIETY

PLAN THE WORK:
A Handbook for Strategic Communications Planning for Not-for-Profit Organizations

How to contact IMPACS 207 West Hastings Street, Suite 910 Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 Phone: 604.682.1953 Toll-free: 877.232.0122 Fax: 604.682.4353 Email: Web: media@impacs.org www.impacs.org

IMPACS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of BC Hydro in developing the workshop that accompanies this handbook. Thanks also to Volunteer BC and its member volunteer centres for the inspiration to create this handbook. Core support for IMPACS training initiatives has been provided by the Vancouver Foundation, the Endswell Foundation and VanCity Credit Union.

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION The value of developing a strategic communication plan............................................ 3 How was this model created and how does it work? ................................................... 4 FACILITATOR’S GUIDE HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION PLAN ................................ 9 Organizational Goals and Communication Objectives: Defining Success................ 11 Situation Analysis: Organizational Background........................................................ 21 Situation Analysis: External or Public Environment ................................................. 27 Audiences and Messages............................................................................................ 31 Strategies and Tactics ................................................................................................ 39 Evaluation of Ideas for Strategies and Tactics .......................................................... 45 Implementation Budget .............................................................................................. 49 Timing......................................................................................................................... 51 Timeline...................................................................................................................... 55 Implement the Plan! ................................................................................................... 59 Evaluate the Plan ....................................................................................................... 61 SUPPORT MATERIALS HOW TO PLAN AND FACILITATE MEETINGS .................................................................... 65 Preparation ................................................................................................................ 65 Meeting Facilitation................................................................................................... 67 Follow-Up .................................................................................................................. 71 Meeting Checklist....................................................................................................... 72 HOW TO FACILITATE A CREATIVE BRAINSTORM ............................................................ 73 HOW TO FACILITATE A FOCUS GROUP ............................................................................ 75 SAMPLE COMMUNICATION PLANS — FOUR APPROACHES .............................................. 77 Eye Disease Education Program for People With Disabilities……………………. 77 Wisconsin Environmental Education Board……………………………………….. 89 Heart Health Partnership…………………………………………………………... 99 National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign……………………………………… 105

INTRODUCTION

2

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

3

The value of developing a strategic communication plan
Your organization’s most valuable asset is an excellent overall reputation. A strategic communication plan formulates the strategy, tactics and procedures for developing, sustaining and publicizing your not-for-profit organization and your organization’s reputation. A strategic communication plan is a written statement of actions and activities. It explains in detail the timeframe for carrying out the plan of these actions, what resources and support will be necessary to achieve your goals, how much each activity will cost, what would constitute a successful plan and how results will be measured. A strategic communication plan: 1. identifies and endorses a particular, desired future. 2. evaluates that future against other possible futures. 3. researches which desired futures would be possible. 4. evaluates the available resources. 5. outlines what needs to be done. 6. evaluates the consequence of actions and possible actions. 7. decides on a particular course. 8. evaluates the effectiveness of that course. 9. communicates that action plan. 10. evaluates the impact of your actions. Strategic communication planning evaluates an organization’s goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. The plan provides criteria for making day-to-day organizational decisions and a template against which all such decisions can be evaluated. Developing a communication plan is much more than creating a media relations plan or increasing the number of press clippings you can accumulate. Strategic communication planning considers both the short-term and long-term effects of all of your public communications efforts. Some of the common objectives and benefits of developing a strategic communication plan include developing and/or improving your: 1. ability to create a strong and positive reputation for your not-for-profit organization — public relations; 2. profile in the community and your ability to attract the best staff, supporters and volunteers — community relations; 3. relationship and reputation with the media — media relations; 4. relationship with employees and volunteers — internal communications; 5. ability to attract and maintain strong donor support — donor relations; 6. reputation with government at all levels — government relations; 7. sponsorship and funding opportunities with business — corporate relations; 8. not-for-profit organization’s policies and organizational direction — boardstaff relations 9. outreach about programs and services you offer — constituency and client relations.

© IMPACS 2002

4

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

If you are still unconvinced that the time you will spend developing a communication plan will be a good investment, consider the following reasons to invest in the process: 1. to proactively focus the activities of your not-for-profit organization where there is the greatest potential for success; 2. to ensure your limited resources (time and financial) are most effectively applied; 3. to impose discipline and clear thinking about why it is in the best interest for your not-for-profit organization to pursue certain communications initiatives; 4. to integrate all of your public relations efforts: media, government, donor, corporate, etc.; 5. to ensure that everyone in your not-for-profit organization (staff, board, volunteers) is “on the same page” and telling the same stories about your organization; and 6. to achieve results that move you towards realizing your not-for-profit organization’s goals; and 7. to encourage creative thinking about new ways to address old challenges.

How was this model created and how does it work?
Through our research with not-for-profit organizations in BC over the past three years, we identified several common themes: most not-for-profit organizations believe that communication planning is a critical area for them to develop and they are eager to do the work; but, communication planning is rarely ever written into any staff person’s job description; and, most not-for-profit staff people have little to no experience doing communication planning; in addition, funding to hire outside consultants to undertake communication planning is extremely hard to raise; and, for organizations that do attract funding to hire a communication planning consultant, finding consultants who are knowledgeable about the special financial and time restrictions of the not-for-profit sector is a great challenge. With these common challenges faced by most not-for-profits, we set a goal to develop a strategic communication planning model that could harness the enthusiasm of a few key staff or volunteers in an organization and that would recognize and work around each of the challenges noted above. In our experience, not-for-profits have identified lack of time as the most common impediment to their organization’s ability to develop a strategic communication plan. Since communication planning is rarely written into anyone’s job description, it is an easy target for never becoming an organizational priority. In many not-for-profit organizations, communication planning is handed over to a volunteer board committee, where the process often loses momentum.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

5

One of our objectives in developing this communication planning handbook was to create a model that accommodates the very real time restrictions most not-for-profit organizations have to do this planning. The second impediment most not-for-profit organizations face when they consider developing a communication plan is lack of experience in this specific area. Thus, our second objective was to create a tool unlike any that we have seen: a communication planning handbook that not only explains what areas of information need to be gathered and evaluated, but one that also provides concrete suggestions for how to gather that information. The approach we have developed will require one person, either staff or volunteer, to assume the role of the “Communication Plan Facilitator” or “Communication Plan Manager.” The structure outlined in the following pages has been developed to move you step-by-step through the whole process, with a time commitment of about four hours a week, which, according to our research, is the average amount of time most people said they could dedicate to this work. That said, a good part of the facilitator’s or manager’s four hours a week will be spent getting others engaged in the process. This serves our third objective: to engage as many people as possible in the process. Why? Because staff, board and supporter buy-in is critical to the success of your plan — especially if your planning process identifies success as being dependent on changes to the status quo. Without full support from the people who will implement the strategies and tactics that your communication plan identifies will lead you to success, the plan may never be implemented. Without full support from the people who set your not-for-profit organization’s policies and organizational direction, the plan may never be implemented. Without full support from the people who financially support your not-for-profit organization’s activities, the plan may never be implemented. And so, rather than handing you a “cookie cutter” communication plan template that one person from your not-for-profit organization could take away and stamp into a limited variety of situations, we have provided you with a complete communication planning cookbook. The document has been divided into two distinct sections: 1. Facilitator’s Guide 2. Support Materials Facilitator’s Guide The Facilitator’s Guide in this handbook will provide you with all of the tools you should need, to create a communication plan that is truly tailored to your not-for-profit organization’s unique strengths, needs and challenges. Support Materials This handbook includes a variety of materials that will support you in the development and implementation of your communication plan. This is a section that we hope you will continue to add to, by sharing new information and resources with other not-for-profit organizations.

© IMPACS 2002

6

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

7

FACILITATOR’S GUIDE

© IMPACS 2002

8

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

9

As the person managing the development of your not-for-profit organization’s communication plan, your role is critical. Not only will you be responsible for keeping the process moving along, you will likely also be the one person within your organization who has participated in every aspect of information gathering for the plan. One of your key roles in your capacity as the plan manager will be to facilitate group meetings, where staff, board and other stakeholders will come together to share information about different aspects of both your organization and the plan you are developing. As such, we thought it was important to provide some support on how to effectively facilitate these meetings. In the second section of this handbook, the “Support Materials” section, we have included details about how to plan and facilitate meetings, how to facilitate a creative brainstorm and how to facilitate a focus group: three tools that will be valuable to your planning process. We have also included four sample communication plans to inspire you — and to provide you with ideas about how you could adapt our model to best suit your organization’s specific needs. If, when reading through this section, you begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of meetings we have planned to support you — stop reading! Sit back and consider that the creation of your communication plan is a process as much as it is a project. The process may take as long as six months to get through. That is fine. Approach the process as a series of very easy to achieve benchmarks: the first meeting, short report for the plan; the second meeting, short report for the plan; and so on. (Remember the old saying: you can’t eat an elephant in one bite!) Creating these short reports on each section of your plan will serve another purpose. As your planning document increases in scope (and size), you should feel a sense of accumulated accomplishment, a feeling that you are really moving your organization forward. This feeling of accomplishment can play a significant role in encouraging you to continue your work to complete your not-for-profit organization’s strategic communication plan.

How to Develop Your Own Strategic Communication Plan
The following section details each of the different areas that you will be developing within your communication plan. Although the model we created relies on the participation of your staff, board and other allies and volunteers, any of these sections could be completed by one individual. We do not recommend this approach, however, since the ultimate success of your plan — that is, how effectively you can implement and then evaluate it — will largely be determined by the level of buy-in that key staff and board have for the plan. Buy-in is easiest to achieve when people have had a role in developing the plan and feel some level of ownership of the ideas contained within it. All of the pieces of a communication plan are represented in the following pages. They have been laid out in a logical order: by moving from Organizational Goals to Situation Analysis to Audience and Messages, you will be building naturally from the most general to the most specific areas of concern. We recommend that you try to fully complete each stage of information gathering before moving to the next one.

© IMPACS 2002

10

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Stage One — complete all of these pieces before moving to Stage Two Organizational Goals (Defining Success) (this should be the very first area you address) Communication Objectives (Defining Success) Situation Analysis: Organizational Background Situation Analysis: External Environment Stage Two — complete both of these pieces before moving to Stage Three Audiences (must be determined before you move to messages) Messages Stage Three — complete both of these pieces before moving to Stage Four Strategies (must be determined before you move to tactics) Tactics Stage Four — complete all of these pieces before moving to Stage Five Evaluation of Ideas for Strategies and Tactics Implementation Budget (helpful to do before you invest time in developing the timing and timeline sections, in case you identify certain strategies and tactics require resources you don’t have access to) Timing Timeline Stage Five Implement the Plan Evaluate the results

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

11

Organizational Goals and Communication Objectives: Defining Success
Your first challenge as the facilitator will be to develop a very clear understanding of the differences between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. In our experience, dictionary definitions offer very little help clarifying these terms. “Goal” and “objective” are words that are used interchangeably, as are “strategies” and “tactics.” To make matters even more confusing, many people hold up their organizational “strategies” as “goals,” perhaps because strategies are easier to measure than goals. Then again, perhaps the confusion lies simply in the fact that very few people, in either the not-for-profit or the business sector, have ever taken the time to distinguish the roles of each of these tools in strategic planning. A visual distinction of how these four tools work together may be the best place to start:

Goal(s) We have just a few of these

Objectives We have objectives to support each of our goals

Strategies Our strategies are developed to ensure we achieve our objectives

Tactics We have lots, perhaps dozens, of tactics. Each tactic has been developed based on its ability to meet our strategies, fulfill our objectives and ultimately influence our ability to achieve our goal(s).

© IMPACS 2002

12

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Another way to visualize the relationship between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics is like this: keep in mind that your objectives support your goals, your strategies support your objectives and your tactics support your strategies.

GOAL(S)
Goal What are your long-term achievements? What do you want to achieve to move your not-for-profit organization closer to fulfilling its mission?

OBJECTIVE 1
What concrete, measurable, specific and achievable (within a certain timeframe) “targets” are you aiming at? These are shorter-term than your goals.

OBJECTIVE 2
What concrete, measurable, specific and achievable (within a certain timeframe) “targets” are you aiming at? These are shorter-term than your goals.

STRATEGY 1A
What is one general approach to achieving Objective 1?

STRATEGY 1B
What is another general approach to achieving Objective 1?

STRATEGY 2A
What is one general approach to achieving Objective 2?

STRATEGY 2B
What is another general approach to achieving Objective 2?

Tactic 1A-1
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 1A-3
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 1B-2
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 2A-1
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 2B-1
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 1A-2
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 1B-1
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 1B-3
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 2A-2
What specific tools will we use?

Tactic 2B-2
What specific tools will we use?

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

13

For Example…

GOAL
To provide a free and nutritious hot lunch program at the elementary school.

OBJECTIVE 1
To enlist support of the school administration and the current cafeteria staff by Christmas break.

OBJECTIVE 2
To develop relationships with possible in-kind and cash supporters by Christmas break and secure adequate support to begin new program for the next school year.

STRATEGY 2A
Convince grocery store managers of the value-added in providing in-kind support.

STRATEGY 2B
Demonstrate to potential funders that their mission and goals will be served by supporting this

STRATEGY 2C
Convince other NGOs that our program will support their own and not compete for funding.

STRATEGY 2D
Provide other NGOs the opportunity to participate in the development of the program.

Tactic 2A1
Undertake a shopper survey to determine support.

Tactic 2A2
Determine amount of weekly “waste.”

Tactic 2A3
Figure out how many kids the “waste” could feed.

Tactic 2A4
Get testimonials from nutritionists.

Tactic 2A5
Create a 4page info sheet about benefits of participating.

© IMPACS 2002

14

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

It is important to discuss and set success benchmarks for both your organizational goals and your communication objectives. Unless organizations consider them both, and develop distinct goals and concrete objectives, the two will likely remain confused, making it difficult to establish accurate success measures. For instance, confusing goals with objectives can lead an organization to conclude that one of their goals is to have three stories about them appear in the local newspaper. Although generating media coverage is not a goal, it can be a fine objective — as long as it is understood that having a story appear in the paper serves to achieve some real change in your organization, such as recruiting new volunteers, attracting new donors, or attracting clients to a program. Distinguishing between goals and objectives can be challenging because the terms are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Goals are accomplishments that will make or leave some change in the world. One way to define goals is to answer the question, “once we have achieved our goal(s), how will the world look different?” Objectives are the smaller action items that naturally develop from your goal-setting process. Well-defined objectives are ideally specific, measurable, concrete and achievable within a specified time-frame. So, if organizational goals and communication objectives are so different, why address them at the same time? Simply, because most people don’t make the distinction clearly in their own minds, they move quite fluidly from one to the other. This is not a problem, as long as the facilitator has a clear sense of the difference between the big-picture organizational goals and the communication objectives that could ultimately assist your not-for-profit organization in achieving those goals. Your organizations goals and objectives are also the two areas of a communication plan that should include the entire board of directors and as many staff as possible in their development. The decisions made while discussing goals and objectives could have an impact at both an organizational policy level (typically a board responsibility) and on project implementation (typically a staff responsibility). This piece of work may require two or three meetings of a couple of hours each. The agenda that follows is for a three-hour session — the maximum length of time we believe you can spend working effectively on these two topics at one sitting. If you feel at the end of the three hours that there is still more discussion to be had, schedule a second meeting. You could either ask the same group of people to come back to continue the discussion (and perhaps invite others if you believe they could help address questions the first group had difficulties coming to agreement on), or you could break the group into two and ask one group to reconvene to discuss only organizational goals and the other to discuss communication objectives. If you choose the latter approach, then it is critical that the group meeting to discuss organizational goals have their meeting prior to the group discussing communication objectives. As noted earlier, communication objectives must be developed to support organizational goals.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

15

If you expect to meet with some resistance from your board and staff to doing this piece of work here are a few compelling reasons to bring them on-side. By working together and defining what success looks like you can expect to: build morale within the team. When you establish goals that your staff and volunteers can meet, everyone is energized and ready to take on more ambitious goals. establish evaluation criteria. More and more funders and supporters want to know whether not-forprofits have been successful in their work. Defining what success will look like is one of the only ways to provide them with that information. set priorities, so that when you are faced with multiple communication opportunities, it will be easier to make hard choices about where to allocate limited resources. For example, if someone proposes organizing a conference, your plan will allow you to determine if this activity will support your stated goals and whether other planned activities will have to be cancelled or postponed. have good cause for celebration when you achieve your stated goals. If you don’t set goals at the beginning of your planning process, you won’t know when to celebrate. Many not-for-profits are unhappy at the end of their communications initiatives, feeling they could have done a better job. Rarely have those organizations defined, at the outset, what their goals were. Without an end-mark against which to evaluate your work, it is impossible to ever feel the thrill of success. identify the goals that are likely unachievable, before you invest resources in pursuing them. Seeing what success will look like, on paper, and discussing this with others, will help you keep unrealistic expectations in check, identify where human or financial resources may be lacking and identify other obstacles that may impede your success.

© IMPACS 2002

16

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Facilitator’s Briefing Guide
Organizational Goals and Communication Objectives: Defining Success Objectives: To develop a shared vision for the role of the organization within the community. To identify realistic and achievable short-term (one to three years) organizational goals. To identify realistic and achievable communication objectives to help meet the goals identified. To enlist board and staff support to engage in the required activities to achieve these goals and objectives. Activities: Visioning exercise Brainstorms Group discussions Props/ Materials: Flip chart, markers and tape A summary of your organizational history and external environment can be helpful to put the discussion of goals in perspective. However, it may also act to limit people’s ability to truly create a vision for the future. The challenge is that some participants may get “stuck” on what has been done and find themselves unable to focus on what could be achieved. Carefully judge whether the individuals within your group need this information. If you determine that they do, complete the sections on organizational history and external environment before discussing goals and objectives. Who to invite: Members of your board of directors Staff members Long-time and committed volunteers and advisors People who will bring a positive excitement to this stage of the planning Optimal number of participants: up to 12

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

17

Sample agenda for a three-hour visioning exercise
Organizational Goals and Communication Objectives: Defining Success Timing (minutes) 10-20 (depending on group size) Activity Self-introductions of all participants Facilitator's Tip Ask each participant to: state their name, how long they have been involved with your organization, in what capacity, and to complete the phrase, “I am committed to <the name of your organization> because…” Allow for 2-3 minutes per person. Record the answers to “I am committed to <the name of your organization> because….” You may find them useful in your planning process when you reach the Audiences and Messages section. They also may provide a spring-board for newsletter stories. 10 Overview of the meeting’s goals and agenda review Tell the participants what you hope to achieve during the meeting (such as the objectives noted on the previous page) and how you plan to use the information that is shared. Review the agenda and ask if anyone has comments. 5 (if set in advance) 15 (if set by the group) 5 Positive visioning Setting meeting rules Either develop these in advance, have them posted where everyone can see them and read them to the group with a brief explanation about each; or, ask the group to develop its own ground rules and post those. (See page 64 for common meeting rules). Ask participants to close their eyes and visualize how your community would look different were your not-for-profit organization able to achieve its goals. What impact will an effective and strong not-for-profit organization have in the community? Ask them to be concrete and specific. Would there be a new skateboard park for youth, concerts for seniors, a gathering place for moms and young children? 15-30 Group vision sharing Ask each individual to share their vision of a positive future. Do not allow any negative

© IMPACS 2002

18

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

commentary about anyone’s vision. Record the main ideas of each person’s vision on flip chart paper and post these on the wall. Title the flip charts “What success looks like.” 30-40 Discussion: organizational goals Lead a discussion about your organization’s current goals and how those goals fit with the visions just created. Again, do not allow negative thinking. Identify the goals that have the greatest support (see page 73, Facilitating a Creative Brainstorm, Step Two) and list them together on a separate flip chart. Referring to the flip chart you have just created with the organizational goals that received the most votes, brainstorm communication objectives that could serve to help you achieve those goals. Allow individuals in the group who have concerns about the visions of success, goals and objectives to share them at this point. As much as possible, let the others in the group respond to the concerns, since it was they who proposed those ideas originally. Ensure people speak respectfully to each other and challenge ideas, not the people who proposed them. Ask participants what they can commit to doing to support the continued forward movement of this process. Write these commitments down on flip chart paper so the whole room can see. Tell participants that you will take this information away and put it into a form that can be shared, considered and further discussed. Thank each person for participating in the meeting. Tell them that their input was very valuable and that you will stay in touch with them as the development of the communication plan progresses.

30-40

Discussion/ brainstorm: communication objectives Final discussion

15-20

15

Follow-up

2

Wrap-up

3

Thank-you’s

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

19

Sample questions to ask the group
Note that you do not need to ask every question listed here at your meeting. In fact, if your visioning brainstorm elicits strong answers, you may not need to ask any of these questions. (And many of them are simply a rephrasing of other questions.) The intent is to provide you with adequate ways to get at the information you are seeking from your meeting participants. It may be helpful to provide this list of questions to individuals in advance to help them prepare for the meeting. 1. Organizational goals a. Why does your not-for-profit organization exist? b. What are your not-for-profit organization’s ultimate goals? c. How will the world be a better place once you achieve your goals? d. Or, how would the world suffer were your not-for-profit organization to cease to exist? e. Can you draw a picture of how this community will look different in one, three, five and/or ten years, after you have accomplished your goals? Be very specific and concrete. f. What is the projected timeline for achieving the goals that have been stated? g. For each goal you have defined, can you identify specific, concrete, measurable and achievable objectives, the smaller wins or “mini-goals”? 2. Public perception a. How do you want your not-for-profit organization to be perceived? b. How do you want your issues and/or programs to be perceived? c. How do you want your community to be perceived by those who live outside the community? 3. Communication objectives a. What is your ultimate communication objective? b. Which of your organizational goals(s) will you move closer to achieving as a result of implementing your communication efforts? c. How will each communication objective move you closer to achieving your organizational goal(s)? d. What do you want your target audience to do, exactly? e. In other words, what is the “call to action”? f. How will you measure success? g. What will your benchmarks be? (For example: we will drive 1,000 people to our website and generate 100 faxed letters to a specific decision-maker; or we will add 20 new, active volunteers to a local stream recovery initiative; or we will help ensure that at least 50 of our group’s members attend a fundraising brunch.)

© IMPACS 2002

20

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

21

Situation Analysis: Organizational Background
Taking the time to draw a comprehensive picture about how and why your not-forprofit organization was created will help you better understand why things have been done the way they have been, and alert you to potential obstacles you may have to face as you create your organization’s communication plan. For this area of your communication plan, it is important to work with the “oldtimers” from within your organization, those staff and volunteers who have been around for the longest amount of time. You may consider asking a former board member, one of the organization’s founders perhaps, to participate in this piece of work. Depending on how engaged the group is, how well they know your not-forprofit organization, and how old the organization is, this process could require two three-hour gatherings. Have one person facilitate the meeting — but don’t call it a meeting! Refer to it as a story collecting exercise. Have a recorder (either human or a tape recorder) available to collect all the stories. You will likely gather information that will be very useful in your current communication efforts (stories for your newsletter, copy for your organizational brochures or a column in your local paper).

© IMPACS 2002

22

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Facilitator’s Briefing Guide
Situation Analysis: Organizational Background Objectives: To develop a shared organizational history. To shed light on how the organization got to the place it is today. To come to consensus on why things are done as they are and where there may be room to change the “status quo.” To collect the information that will allow you to realistically assess your historic limitations and strengths which could have a major impact on your organizational goals, communication objectives, strategies and tactics. Activities: Guided conversation Props/ Materials: Flip chart, markers and tape Lap-top computer if you are using a typist to take notes Tape recorder if you are taking notes by hand Who to invite: Individuals who have been involved with the organization for a significant amount of time Individuals who have a good sense of your organizational history Optimal number of participants: 6 to 8

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

23

Sample agenda for a three-hour meeting
Situation Analysis: Organizational Background Timing (minutes) 20 Activity Self-introductions of all participants Facilitator's Tip Ask each participant to: state their name, how long they have been involved with your organization, in what capacity, and to complete the phrase, “I am committed to <the name of your organization> because…” Allow for 2-3 minutes per person. Record the answers to “I am committed to <the name of your organization> because….” You may find them useful in your planning process when you reach the Audiences and Messages section. They also may provide a spring-board for newsletter stories. 10 Tell the participants what you hope to achieve during Overview of the meeting’s goals and the meeting (such as the objectives noted on the previous page) and how you plan to use the agenda review information that is shared. Review the agenda and ask if anyone has comments. 5 (if set in advance) 15 (if set by the group) 30-45 Acknowledgement of the value of every person’s contribution to the growth of your notfor-profit organization Setting meeting rules Either develop these in advance, have them posted where everyone can see them and read them to the group with a brief explanation about each; or, ask the group to develop its own ground rules and post those. (See page 69 for common meeting rules). This process may seem intimidating to some of the participants, especially if your not-for-profit organization has changed over its lifetime. Individuals who may have been part of creating your organization could feel either sad or frustrated at changes in direction they have seen, or may feel unappreciated now for the work they did in establishing your organization. It is critical that you create a space in which everyone, no matter how “historic” their contribution is, feels that what they gave to the life of your not-for-profit organization was of critical importance and is still valued. All decisions that were made in earlier times should be respected and acknowledged.

© IMPACS 2002

24

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Ask each participant to think of a time in the not-forprofit organization’s history that made them feel proud to have been a part of the organization. Ask them to share their story (if appropriate, ask participants to respect the time for the meeting by keeping their story to about 5 minutes). 60-90 Open discussion Guide participants through the questions that follow in the section titled, Sample Questions to ask the Group. Focus on the questions that are most relevant to your not-for-profit organization’s current situation. Ensure that every person is given space to talk. If one person dominates, take a 5-minute break and ask that person to help others share their stories. (Or use tactics described on page 70, Respect Everyone’s Rights.) Allow individuals in the group to each provide a closing comment that addresses the one piece of your not-for-profit organization’s history that they feel is most important to keep sight of, or the one value that they would like your organization to always hold close. Record these comments, with the name of the person who raised them, on a flip chart for everyone to see. Add these comments to your communication plan. They may provide an excellent evaluation benchmark and rationale for new activities your organization may decide to undertake. 15-25 Follow-up Ask participants to commit to what they can do to support the continued forward movement of this process. Write these commitments down on flip chart paper so the whole room can see. For example, if someone told a particularly powerful story, they may offer to write that story down so that it can be remembered by the organization and perhaps used to build your organization’s profile in a media story or newsletter article. Tell participants that you will take this information away and put it into a form that will allow the organizational history to be protected and shared with new staff and board members, and with the community. Thank each person for participating in the meeting. Tell them that their input was very valuable and that you will stay in touch with them as the development of the communication plan progresses.

15-20

Final discussion

3

Wrap-up

2

Thank-you’s

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

25

Sample questions to ask the group
The following questions are meant to guide your conversation with stakeholders. Use questions that seem appropriate to discuss and develop others if needed. Note that this is just a guide, not a comprehensive list. 1. History of your organization a. How old is BC Not-for-profit organization? Does it have a good profile in your community? If so, what has contributed to the positive profile? If not, why don’t you have a good profile? b. Is your funding secure? Increasing, decreasing or staying stable? c. Why was your not-for-profit organization created? d. Who, what group of individuals or organization, created your not-forprofit organization? e. How have your human resources helped/hindered the growth and stability of your not-for-profit organization? 2. The services your organization provides a. What services does your not-for-profit organization currently provide in your community? Why do you provide these services? b. What services has your not-for-profit organization provided to the community in the past, that it no longer provides? Why did you stop providing these services? c. Are there other services you, or others in the community, think your notfor-profit organization should provide? Services that people have requested? d. What research do you need to undertake to determine whether your notfor-profit organization should be evaluating the types of services you provide? 3. The people who benefit from your services (think broadly—not just direct clients but whole communities) a. What are the individual groups of people who benefit from your services (such as volunteers, non-profits, small business, etc)? b. How many of each type of beneficiary do you serve or support? c. Are you serving each of these groups in the way that they most need to be served? How do you know? 4. The function your not-for-profit organization serves (this is another way to think about the questions posed in question 3) a. What function do you perform? b. For whom? c. Why do you do this? d. How do you do this? 5. Your not-for-profit organization’s role in your service area — competition analysis a. Where do you fit compared to other similar organizations in your market?

© IMPACS 2002

26

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

b. c. d. e. f.

Where does your market fit within the larger community? Who delivers similar services? How does your organization differ? How is your organization better? What could your organization learn from other similar service providers to improve your own service delivery?

6. History/facts about your issue area a. Why is your issue important in your community? b. Are there statistics that support your position? 7. Research available on your issue a. Have any special studies or surveys been carried out that relate to your issue area? b. Is more research required to understand attitudes and public opinion towards your issue? c. Is there anything available now, for free, that will help you? 8. Communications Infrastructure a. Do you have a database of supporters, clients, partners, etc. that includes contact names, addresses, phone and fax numbers and email addresses? b. Do you have staff who understand communications and have time to dedicate to communication-related activities? c. Past media efforts: what’s worked? What hasn’t worked? How do you know? d. Past communication materials (newsletters, flyers, posters, brochures): what’s worked? What hasn’t worked? How did you know? e. Do you know how people found out about your not-for-profit organization? By word of mouth? Your local paper? An event poster? Your newsletter? Another organization directed them to you? f. Do you have a website? How many visitors does it receive monthly? How often is it updated? Have you evaluated the relative value of the resources put into your website against the return? Do you have clear objectives that you hope your website will meet? What are they? Are you meeting them?

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

27

Situation Analysis: External or Public Environment
It is important to be aware of the external threats and opportunities that potentially affect your organization, those groups or individuals who may be opposed to, or supportive of, either the work you do or to the way in which you do it. It is also important to be aware of the communications environment in which you will be delivering your messages. Undertaking the work required to understand your not-forprofit organization’s external environment will provide you with a snapshot of your current positioning within the local and broad communications environment. This information will help you identify threats and opportunities that may impact the growth or stability of your not-for-profit organization. This particular section of your communication plan will require input from a group of individuals that is different from the group who guided you in your evaluation of your organization’s internal environment (although there may be some overlap). Try to gather the people who are currently engaged in your organization and who have a good sense of the external landscape in which you do your work. For this gathering you may also consider inviting some allies who may not be active with your not-for-profit organization, but who can speak candidly about how your organization is perceived in the community in which you work. You might consider inviting a local reporter, your local “King of Kensington” (the person who seems to know everyone and everything about your community), someone from the Chamber of Commerce, a youth, a senior, your MLA, or the waitress at the local watering hole who hears all the community’s gossip on a Friday night. This gathering should be conducted as a focus group.

© IMPACS 2002

28

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Facilitator’s Briefing Guide:
Situation Analysis: External or Public Environment Objectives: To collect the information that will allow you to realistically assess the external opportunities and threats that may or will impact your not-for-profit organization’s ability to achieve your organizational goals. Activities: Focus group (see page 75, How to Facilitate a Focus Group). Props/ Materials: Flip chart, markers and tape Video recorder or tape recorder Laptop computer for note-taker Lunch or refreshments (as appropriate) Who to invite: Individuals who have a good sense of local priorities and interests Individuals who understand the provincial policies that may impact legislation on your issue People who have some power or authority in your community and who you hope to engage in your work At least two board members who have good community connections Optimal number of participants: 6 to 8

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

29

Sample agenda for a one-and-a-half hour focus group
Situation Analysis: External or Public Environment Timing (minutes) 5 Activity Welcome Facilitator's Tip Introduce yourself and your meeting note-taker if you have one. If you plan to tape or video record the session, ask the participants’ permission. Ask each participant to state their name and what their role in the community is. Allow 1-2 minutes per person. Tell the participants what you hope to achieve during the meeting and how you plan to use the information that is shared. Review the agenda and ask for comments. This simple list should suffice: 1. Keep focused 2. Maintain momentum 3. Get closure on questions Ask the group a question (see page 30 for suggested questions). Allow a few minutes for each person to consider and write down their answers. Then, facilitate a discussion around the answers to the question. After each question is answered, carefully reflect back a summary of what you heard (you may ask that the notetaker do this). Ask the next question and follow the same process. Ensure equal participation. If one or two people are dominating the meeting, then call on others. Consider using a round-table approach: going in one direction around the table and giving each person a minute to answer the question. If the domination persists, note it to the group and ask for ideas about how the participation can be increased. 2 Wrap-up Tell participants that you will take away this information, put it into a form that can be shared, considered and further discussed. Thank each person for participating in the meeting. Tell them that their input was very valuable and that you will stay in touch with them as the development of the communication plan progresses. If they are interested in receiving a written report of the meeting, provide this option to them.

10-15 5

Introductions Overview of the meeting’s goals and agenda Review of ground rules

2

60

Questions and answers – the focus group time

3

Thank-you’s

© IMPACS 2002

30

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Sample questions to ask the group
1. Current local/national perception of your organization, your program and/or the issues your not-for-profit organization addresses a. How does your community see your not-for-profit organization? Are you widely seen as a “grassroots” organization or as a wellfunded advocacy group? As a statesmanlike or “think-tank” organization? As credible or questionable? As radical or mainstream? As left-wing, right-wing or not political at all? 2. History of media stories on your organization or your work a. How well-exposed is your not-for-profit organization? b. How has it been positioned within the media to date? 3. Penetration of your issue a. Is your issue on the public’s “radar screen” or would most people consider it to be a “new” topic of discussion? b. Has your issue generated local debate or questions from media? 4. Allies a. Who publicly supports your organization’s position? b. What are they saying about your not-for-profit organization? 5. Opponents a. Does any individual or organization oppose your work? b. What are their messages? What are they saying? c. What effect are they having on your ability to thrive? d. What are their strengths and weaknesses? e. Is it possible to build a positive relationship with your opponents?

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

31

Audiences and Messages
The group of individuals interested in tackling your organization’s most appropriate audiences and messages will likely be quite small. But don’t worry, as long as one person from your organization is engaged in the development of your communication plan, and clearly understands the need to be very specific with these two sections of your plan, you will be fine! Your process may be as simple as looking at your organizational goals and communication objectives and matching them with audiences and messages that your organization is already working with. We do recommend that you take time to consider new audiences and the roles that they may be able to play in helping you achieve your goals and objectives. It is also very important to be as specific as possible when developing your list of target audiences. There is no such thing as a “general” public in communications initiatives. Even if you decide that you need to reach a majority of the people who live in your community with messages about your work, you will not be speaking to a general public, but to many specific publics. Each public, or audience, can be distinguished by the values that the majority of its members share. Just consider how challenging it would be to develop one communication vehicle that would equally engage a group of teenage boys just as well as it would the mayor of your town. The teens would respond to a formal letter written in bureaucrat-speak about as well as the mayor would respond to a message delivered rap-style by a young man in too-big trousers. Likely, not well at all! The time required for these activities can vary from a couple of hours to several days, depending on the complexity of the goals and objectives you have set. We have not provided a meeting agenda for this aspect of your planning process. You could equally effectively pull together a focus group, host a stakeholder meeting or do informal water-cooler research. Try to include people who have a good understanding of and appreciation for the variety of audiences your organization serves and relies on.

© IMPACS 2002

32

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Questions to consider about your audiences
1. Who are your key audiences — those groups of people who have the power to help you achieve your organizational goals and communication objectives? It is likely that different goals and objectives will require different audiences to help you achieve them. Some examples of typical not-for-profit audiences: a. Clients, one time b. Clients, ongoing c. Community leaders, business (such as bank manager, Chamber of Commerce president) d. Community leaders, religious e. Donors, major (over a set amount, such as $1,000) f. Donors, monthly g. Donors, multiple gifts h. Donors, one time gift i. Federal government bureaucrats (staff) j. Federal government elected officials (Members of Parliament) k. Media (local, regional, provincial) l. Media (television, radio, print) m. Municipal government bureaucrats (staff) n. Municipal government elected officials (Mayor, Councilors and Trustees) o. Other not-for-profit organizations p. Potential donors, business q. Potential donors, individuals r. Potential donors, organizations and foundations s. Project and program partners t. Provincial government bureaucrats (staff) u. Provincial government elected officials (Members of the Legislative Assembly) 2. Can you identify at least one individual person who fits into each of the audience categories you have identified as being important to your success? List as many specific people as you can for each audience. 3. Define some of the values that you believe motivate them to act. For example, current opinion research suggests that a key value most youth share is based on developing job skills. An audience of mothers shares values about the health and safety of their children. Business people tend to value economic factors over emotion-based ones. 4. At what stage of engagement are each of the individuals you have identified? a. No engagement: doesn’t even know the name of your not-for-profit organization b. Low engagement: knows who you are but has never interacted with your organization c. Moderate engagement: may have come to an event, donated to, sponsored or volunteered with your organization in the past, but is not currently involved in any active way
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

33

d. High engagement: is actively engaged as a volunteer, donor or other supporter 5. How can you engage each of the individuals you have named? What specific action can you ask each person to do, based on their current level of engagement, to help you achieve your goal? For instance, you would not ask an individual with no engagement to donate $1,000, nor would you invite an individual with high engagement to an information session about your not-for-profit organization.

Things to consider when developing messages
There are a few essential qualities of an effective message. Generally speaking, effective messages are: Clear and simple Brief Believable Compelling Delivered by the right messenger Clear and Simple This is easier than it sounds. Many of us working in the not-for-profit sector (or in policy and academia, for that matter) use acronyms, phrases or even specific words that may serve as a form of verbal shorthand to refer to complex processes or issues. Such “jargon” may be second-nature to those who are intimately familiar with a particular issue or area of study, but may as well be a foreign language to people on the outside. Avoiding Jargon Generally, this means speaking in plain language. For example, in the United States (and to a lesser extent, Canada), the term “sustainability” is avoided by most major newspaper outlets because the general public does not know what it means. In the advertising and media relations work we do at IMPACS, we have also learned to avoid other words such as “watershed,” “overcut” and “biodiversity” for the same reason: most people don’t know what those terms mean. For example, in a U.S. opinion research project conducted recently, one middle-aged American man summed his views on the term “biodiversity” this way: “It sounds like a government program – and I don’t want any part of it!” Pushing the Envelope: the “Two-Year Rule” While messages are most effective when they are based on language that is familiar to the target audience, some groups will deliberately, but judiciously, introduce new terms as part of a longer-term communication strategy. The public’s understanding of various phrases and concepts evolves over time, and it is perfectly legitimate to “push the envelope” with language. But when we do, a bit of an explanation or translation into plain English will almost always be

© IMPACS 2002

34

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

necessary — usually for several years. As a general rule, it usually takes a minimum of two years of consistent communication around a new concept before that concept will be widely recognized and understood. To illustrate: fifteen years ago, when environmentalists in Canada began using the terms “old-growth” and “clearcutting” in connection with heated debates around forestry, the public was absolutely unfamiliar with both terms. It took years of continual communication, through speeches, media stories, posters, direct mail, advertising and face-to-face conversations before these terms were easily recognized and understood by the general public. Today, the terms “old growth” and “clearcutting” have come to reflect core public values. For most British Columbians and many Canadians, “old growth” is viewed as a precious resource to be protected; “clearcutting” is viewed as a largely negative form of forest harvesting. Brief With messages, as with so many other aspects of effective communications, the rule is: less is more. A message is generally not a paragraph; it may not even be a whole sentence. The shorter a message is, the easier it is for both the speaker and audience to remember. Notice that with large corporations, such as Coke, Nike, and others, the messages conveyed through their ad campaigns are increasingly brief. In Nike ads, for example, there are often no words at all – just a simple photograph, and the Nike logo at the bottom. The message is communicated through visuals that reflect the values of their target audience. Believable This point may seem obvious, but it is worth emphasizing. Messages are not effective if they are not believable. For example, if a corporation known for working in countries with abysmal human rights records starts conveying messages about being a good corporate citizen, concerned with human rights and social justice issues, their communication efforts are likely to backfire. Instead, an effective message might initially be: “we recognize our mistakes, and we’re changing.” Of course, such a message would have to be backed up with substantive initiatives in order to be believed. Then, over time, the corporation may be able to effectively deliver messages about being a good corporate citizen – and be believable. It is also important that the speaker herself believes the messages she is delivering. When we believe in our messages, we convey them with conviction and passion to which our target audiences are more likely to respond. Which brings us to the next point: Compelling Effective messages usually make use of symbols that speak to the core values of the target audience. This is an aspect of messages we often struggle with. We are used to avoiding emotional language or concepts and of qualifying everything we say with words like “may” and “sometimes.” A good message is emphatic. It speaks to core

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

35

values such as “fairness,” “individual freedom” (in some countries), “collective responsibility” (in others), “corporate accountability” or “safeguarding our children’s future.” A good message also evokes an emotional response. When we consider the great speech-makers of our time – Mahatma Ghandi, Noam Chomsky, Mary Robinson, David Suzuki, Nelson Mandela, Helen Caldicott – we note a similarity in their delivery: they are not afraid to evoke the passions of their audiences. They understand the core values of their audiences, even as they speak from their own hearts – and we remember what they say. Delivered by the Right Messenger This final point is a critical one. The fact is, who delivers an effective message is as important as the message itself. In other words, messengers are as important as messages. This is a key challenge for many not-for-profit organizations: the person with the greatest prestige or seniority is routinely assigned the role of spokesperson for the group, regardless of their skill, aptitude or training. On-camera media training will immensely improve the abilities of any spokesperson. It also provides the opportunity to take a hard look at who is really the most effective public representative for your group and its issues. When selecting key spokespeople, consider who can best reflect the kind of tone and positioning your group seeks with the broader community, or with specific target audiences. For example, women tend to respond better to messages on health care when they are delivered by mature female messengers. Men – and usually women – respond best to authoritative male messengers when they are delivering messages about the economy. When “cool” products are being promoted through corporate advertising, research on the “Nexus Generation” (youth from the ages of 10-21) shows that youth tend to respond to other youth messengers who are just a bit older than themselves.

© IMPACS 2002

36

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Audiences and Messages: Example of Process Organizational goal (what we hope to achieve with support from these audiences): Renovate our organization’s community gathering space so that it is more inviting to all of our clients, from youth to seniors, from other not-for-profits to single parents looking for a comfortable place to have a cup of coffee. Communication objectives (what we hope our communication work will achieve): 1. To create a compelling fundraising campaign that will double our current support from individual donors in the next six months, from $250 a month to $500 a month; 2. To create a compelling sponsorship package that will generate $100,000 in new money from local businesses, foundations and the municipal government in the next twelve months.
Key Audiences Individual we will approach His/her level of engagement What we’d like him/her to do (objective served) Why this person will want to help (values we will appeal to with our messages)

One-time client

Jane Boxer, single mom

Low

We’d like Jane to participate in a focus group with other clients to tell us what would make the space comfortable enough for her to want to come on a regular basis. Then to write a letter of support. (Objectives 1 & 2) We’d like Joe to tell us what would make the space more effective for the small meetings he holds there. Then to write a letter of support. (Objectives 1 & 2)

We will make her feel valued and give her a sense of ownership in this process by asking her opinion about what she and other women like her need in the space we are developing.

Ongoing client

Joe Smiley, President of the Kiwanas Club

High

We will recognize his role as a community leader and speak to his clear commitment to supporting community initiatives.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

37

We’d also like Joe to make a commitment that the Kiwanas Club will make the gathering space one of their own fundraising priorities over the next six months. (Objective 2) Monthly donor Ima Friendly High We’d like Ima to increase her monthly gift from $10 to $25. (Objective 1) We will appeal to her love of children by asking her to make an ongoing contribution to purchasing children’s books, games and toys for the organization. We will appeal to his desire to create and maintain a positive image for his utility as a part of the community, not just a place to which people pay bills. We will appeal to her ego, asking first for her advice, which will cost her nothing but a little time.

Corporate sponsor

Steve Smart, BC Utilities Corp.

Moderate

We’d like Steve to provide capital support of $10,000 to support the renovation. (Objective 2) We’d like Julie to become an ally and provide professional advice on how to make the space more welcoming. (Objective 1)

Corporate sponsor

Julie Waterhouse, owner of a home decorating business

Low

Once she is engaged with the project, we will appeal to her level of commitment and ask for in-kind Once her engagement has increased, we’d like to ask her donations. for in-kind donations of paint, throw cushions, area rugs, etc. (Objective 2)

© IMPACS

38

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

39

Strategies and Tactics
This is the section of the communication plan that most people love to get involved in! Ask people who are interested in brainstorming potential communication strategies and tactics to read your in-progress communication plan. Then, host a small “party” at someone’s house and let folks loose! In a phrase, strategies and tactics are the ways you’re going to reach your target audiences. This is the fun part of developing your communication plan. This is where the “rubber hits the road.” Basically, strategies are the broad ways you are going to achieve an objective, tactics are the steps that together form your strategy. The easiest way to differentiate strategies from tactics is through examples: Objective — to get three stories about our not-for-profit organization into the local paper in the next six months Strategy — to develop better writing skills for press releases and opinion articles Tactics — take a course from the community college; get a communication expert onto our advisory committee Same objectives, different strategies: Objective — to get three stories about our not-for-profit organization into the local paper in the next six months Strategy — to develop a strong relationship with the editor of the paper Tactics — have a face-to-face meeting where we establish our credibility as a spokesperson for our issue-area; send a media kit that explains the value of volunteers in our community In the second example, the tactic, to “send a media kit that explains the value of volunteers in our community” to the local paper could also be developed as a strategy... Objective — to get three stories about our not-for-profit organization into the local paper in the next six months Strategy — to develop a media kit that explains the value of volunteering in our community Tactics — to work with experts to ensure our media kit is professional; to find research data to argue our points; to enlist a local designer to produce the media kit at a reduced cost.

© IMPACS 2002

40

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

This part of your communication plan is inherently creative and can be approached in a variety of ways. One approach that often works well is to start by identifying one to five of your target audiences. Look back at what you indicated you want them to do. Look at their audience profiles – what motivates them to act, their values. If you have already undertaken the work of identifying your target audiences and the actions you would like them to undertake, you will also likely have identified several communication strategies and tactics. For instance, taking the example we created in the previous section — wanting to renovate our community gathering space — and all of the communication objectives and audiences we identified, some of the strategies and tactics that lead from there could be: Objective — to create a compelling sponsorship package that will generate $100,000 in new money from local businesses, foundations and the municipal government in the next six months. Strategy — to generate clear community support for the project Tactics — to get ten people from a variety of backgrounds to write letters of support; to show an increase in our current donors’ financial commitment to our organization, in support of the project; to develop allies in the business community who would do a peer-to-peer ask for support from other corporate sponsors.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

41

Facilitator’s Briefing Guide
Strategies and Tactics Objectives: To identify appropriate strategies and tactics to achieve your not-for-profit organization’s goals and objectives. Activities: Creative brainstorm (see page 73, How to Facilitate a Creative Brainstorm) Props/ Materials: Flip chart, markers and tape Handouts that indicate the organizational goal(s) and communication objective(s)you are trying to develop and strategies and tactics to address them A list of the audiences you hope to engage and how you expect individuals from each of these audiences will support you Who to invite: Interested staff members Interested board members Creative allies People who don’t work in the not-for-profit sector who could provide fresh ideas from the environment they live and work in Optimal number of participants: 6-8

© IMPACS 2002

42

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Sample agenda for a three hour creative brainstorm
Strategies and Tactics Timing (minutes) 5 Activity Welcome and introductions Overview of the meeting’s goals and agenda review Review of ground rules Facilitator's Tip Introduce yourself and, if not all participants know each other, ask each person to state their name and affiliation with your not-for-profit organization. Tell the participants what you hope to achieve during the meeting and how you plan to use the information that is shared. Review the agenda and ask if anyone has comments. Keep it simple for this group: 1. No analysis or criticism of other’s ideas allowed (no “black hat” thinking) 2. There are no wrong ideas, anything goes 3. Crazy ideas are okay, even encouraged The timing of your brainstorm is quite important. If you are doing this during work hours, ensure it is not done in the period right after lunch when people are sleepy. Participants must be alert and energized for the creative aspect of the brainstorm to work. Ask a very open-ended question to get people thinking. See page 43 for some suggestions. 15 Selecting the ideas that should be further developed Use the “dotmocracy” technique described on page 73, How to Facilitate a Creative Brainstorm

5

2

60-90

Creative brainstorm

60

Developing the top Take up to five of the best ideas, those that received five ideas the most votes, and discuss the specifics of how each idea could be handled. Wrap-up Tell participants that you will take away this information, put it into a form that can be shared, considered and further discussed. Thank each person for participating in the brainstorm. Tell them that their input was very valuable and that you will stay in touch with them as the development of the communication plan progresses.

2

3

Thank-you’s

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

43

Questions to get the group thinking creatively
As with other lists of questions in this handbook, these are intended to provide you with an idea of the direction you can take your group in. Adapt these questions to suit your organization’s specific target audiences, your communication objectives and your organizational goals. The starting point for developing appropriate brainstorming questions for your organization must be based on the work you have completed in your communication plan to date, otherwise, you will come up with lots of great strategies and tactics that will not move you any closer to achieving your organizational goals — which is, of course, your goal! 1. Our not-for-profit organization is trying to become the community leader in all things related to volunteering. How can we achieve this? 2. We need a new way to engage youth in our organization. What will make youth notice us? 3. We have been in this community for seven years but we are still a “best kept secret.” What do we need to do to get people talking about us? 4. The government is cutting funding to not-for-profit organization across the province. How can we show them that we are a valuable investment? 5. Our annual fundraising dinner has become stale. What new community event can we try out this year? 6. The editor of the local paper is supportive of our organization. What kind of media coverage can we plan for the next six months to take full advantage of his support? 7. The editor of the local paper is not supportive of our organization. How can we get profile in the community without his support? 8. We have seniors banging at our door for programming that will include them. Any ideas? 9. Last year our fundraising raffle did little to raise our profile outside of the “usual suspects.” What could we do differently this year with our raffle? 10. Our board and staff have agreed that our five-year goal is to change the world. How would you go about doing that? Where would you start?

© IMPACS 2002

44

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

45

Evaluation of Ideas for Strategies and Tactics
Evaluation is simply a way for you to measure success. It is a very important aspect of your communication plan. It occurs at many levels and many times. Evaluating your plan and the assumptions on which it is based allows you to get outside of the realm of our own, highly subjective (and sometimes inaccurate) self-assessments as an organization, and to determine what’s working (or not working) out there in the wider world. We have included evaluation here, following the identification of potential strategies and tactics, as you are now at the point where you will want to proactively evaluate something your planning process has produced. Of course, we also advise including evaluation at different stages following the implementation of your plan, to ensure you are achieving the results you anticipated: Evaluations of your target audiences will help you determine which groups of people or individuals you are having the greatest success engaging in your organization, so that you can refocus energy where it is generating the most success. Evaluations of your messages to specific audiences will allow you to judge whether the words and images you are using to communicate with different groups of people are having the desired effect. Evaluations of your strategies and tactics will likewise provide you with feedback on how well the activities and projects you have undertaken are working. This is another task for the communication plan facilitator. Take a few days to consider the ideas you came up with during your creative brainstorm of strategies and tactics. It’s funny how a profile-raising event that includes jailing a city counselor can seem like a great idea on a festive Saturday night, but doesn’t have the same appeal in the light of a Monday morning at the office… “what were we thinking?!” As with the creative brainstorm that spawned your strategies and tactics, evaluating your ideas can be done in a variety of ways. For many people, this task will be handled in large part subconsciously! We offer one simple suggestion: shortly following your brainstorm, take a couple of hours to contact people who weren’t part of the party and pitch your best ideas to them. If you have come up with ideas that will be targeted to specific audiences (which we hope will be the case!), then call people who fit the demographics of the group you hope to reach with each strategy and tactic. There’s little point in asking a 65 year-old homemaker her opinion about how well an interactive classroom play will engage 10-year olds, and even less point in asking a group of 10-year olds if a regular Wednesday tea social would appeal to them. When doing these interviews, your role is to be as open-minded as possible, to ask how each idea sounds and what challenges you might expect to face if you pursue it. You may find that certain ideas are easier for you to explain than others either

© IMPACS 2002

46

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

because you like them better or because you have a better understanding of how they could be implemented. As best as you can, don’t bias your interviewees by telling them which ideas you think are best. Your goal is to get outside advice that is as free from your influence as possible. Once you’ve completed the survey and recorded the respondent’s answers, thank the person. Remember that this is just one person’s opinion. Call a few more people who you suspect would share a similar audience profile and look at all of their comments together. If you feel confident that you have a strong idea, and your survey respondents generally agree, go with it. If your respondents are unsure, but you still feel the idea has merit, consider calling together a focus group, or creative brainstorm with only members of the specific audience you are trying to engage.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

47

Facilitator’s Briefing Guide
Evaluation of Ideas for Strategies and Tactics Objectives: To determine whether specific strategies and tactics will help your organization achieve the goals and objectives you have set. Activities: Use the tool that is most appropriate to reach each of the individuals you decide to interview. Either: short telephone interview short in-person interview short email survey Props/ Materials: Written survey to act as a prompt in telephone interviews Copies of your survey to distribute by fax and email Summary of your organizational goals, communication objectives and the target audiences for each strategy as background information to respondents who ask for more details Who to include: People who did not participate in your creative brainstorm People who you consider to be representative of the audience each of your strategies will target People who don’t work in the not-for-profit sector who could provide fresh ideas from the environment they live and work in Optimal number of respondents: 4 to 6 per strategy idea

© IMPACS 2002

48

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Sample survey questions Either read or include adapted text in a written survey “Our not-for-profit organization has set a number of goals that we would like to achieve over the next <add timeframe>. One of those goals is to <add your goal>. A few days ago we brought together some people to discuss ways we might be able to achieve this goal. I’d like to ask you for your opinion of the ideas we came up with. This should take less than ten minutes. I have five questions I’d like to ask you. Have you got time to right now or can you suggest a time that I can call back? “One of the audiences we hope we can engage the support of is <general description of the audience>. Since you are <a member of that audience/know that audience well>, we are very interested in how you would react to the following idea. “We’re planning to <broad description of communication objectives>. It has been suggested that one way to approach this would be to <details of strategy or tactic>. What do you think?” Wait for an answer, then draw out more information by asking open-ended questions such as: “Why do you think that?” “Do you think that other <description of the audience> would feel the same way as you do?” “Can you think of another way to get <description of the audience> to <description of goal>? Example based on the above script: “Our not-for-profit organization has set a number of goals that we would like to achieve over the next year. One of those goals is to get more people to participate in our programs. A few days ago we brought together some people to discuss ways we might be able to do this. I’d like to ask you for your opinion of the ideas we came up with. This should take less than ten minutes. I have five questions I’d like to ask you. Have you got time to right now or can you suggest a time that I can call back? “One of the audiences we hope we can attract is teenagers. Since you are a teen we are very interested in how you would react to the following idea. “We’re planning to do outreach in high schools, to let youth know what we have to offer them. It has been suggested that one way to approach this would be to get two 16-year-olds to do short skits about our different programs during English class. What do you think?” “Why do you think that?” “Do you think that other teens would feel the same way as you do?” “Can you think of another way to get teens to participate in our programs? “Would you be willing to participate in a focus group with other teens if we hold one?”
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

49

Implementation Budget
Once you have developed a list of strategies and tactics that will serve your organizational goals and communication objectives, it is helpful to put thought into how much each activity will cost your organization. This task may be done with support from your book-keeper or accountant. If you are considering initiatives you’ve never done before, this step could take several hours or even days. The time investment will be worth every minute. Once you have collected your financial data you will have all the details you need to develop a funding proposal to support the activities you wish to undertake: your goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and how much it will cost. This may be one of the best fringe benefits of communication planning: it creates a strong argument for funders to support your initiatives. Since funding to support any not-for-profit’s core expenses is becoming very hard to raise, the budget you create in support of your communication activities should include an appropriate amount of staff time that will be required to implement each project. Consider your communications work in the same way you would consider any other program development. Include your time! Some advice in developing your communication budgets: If you think it will take five days to complete a specific activity, budget at least seven. Communications work almost always takes more time then we expect or hope it will. If you have been told by a designer that she can create a new brochure for you for $250, budget for $500. It is very rare that a designer can stay on budget when working with not-forprofit clients, because, unlike their corporate clients, we like to get consensus, which takes time and usually results in more changes than the designer may have expected to have to make. Don’t forget to include a budget line for meeting expenses. Space rental, providing refreshments, creating a child-care subsidy pool, and other meeting requirements are legitimate project expenses.

© IMPACS 2002

50

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Generic Sample Budget Template
If possible, create this budget in a spreadsheet (such as Excel) so that calculations are done automatically. Create as many “strategy” columns as you have conceived strategies in your planning. You will be able to compare the relative cost of implementing different strategies and make informed decisions about which strategies are going to be worth the staff and financial investment to undertake. EXPENDITURES Staff or Contract Positions (add as many lines as necessary: include benefits and taxes. Include volunteer time as an expenditure line then balance it as a revenue against your in-kind donations line) Facility (rent, utilities, maintenance) (base on a percentage of time for project within overall time) Supplies, Materials, Printing, Photocopying (include letterhead, printer cartridges and other daily use costs) Postage/Courier/Telephone/Fax (these may be significant enough to warrant their own lines) Publicity/advertising (design, printing, postage, staff time could all have lines) Meeting expenses (include participant travel, childcare expenses, facility rental, food, flip chart paper, markers, etc.) Staff travel (mileage payouts, hotels, food per diems, babysitting costs) Honoraria (if this is appropriate, plan for the expense in advance) Other (list by item) TOTAL estimated project expenditures REVENUES Organization (including in-kind and volunteer time) Project partners (including in-kind contributions) Government (list by grant) Municipal Provincial Federal Other Foundation Private donations Corporate support TOTAL anticipated project revenues
© IMPACS 2002

Strategy A Strategy B

$ Strategy A

$ Strategy B

$

$

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

51

Timing
Once you have all of your audiences, messages, strategies and tactics figured out, somebody has to develop a calendar to determine how realistic your plans really are. In the Timing section of your plan, write down all of the potentially relevant provincial dates and community events that you may want to consider either hooking onto or avoiding conflict with. For instance, every year there are at least a dozen walks or runs to support various causes, teddy bear and book drives, golf tournaments and evening fundraising events. In some cases you may be able to promote your organization in partnership with a pre-established event. In other cases you may not want to hold your event in the same week or month as another group, especially if you will be targeting the same participants. Talk to people who know what’s going on in town. Get hold of community calendars. Visit your local library and check for resources they have available. Write every date down on a master calendar.

© IMPACS 2002

52

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Example of an Annual Master Calendar
Date January 1 February 14 February 28 March 17 April 8 April 13 April 15 April 16 May 21 June 17 July 1 August 6 September 3 September September October 8 December 10 December 24 December 25 December 26 Event Statutory Holiday, New Year’s Day Valentine’s Day Ash Wednesday St. Patrick’s Day Palm Sunday, Passover Statutory Holiday, Good Friday Easter Sunday Statutory Holiday, Easter Monday Statutory Holiday, Victoria Day Father’s Day Statutory Holiday, Canada Day Statutory Holiday, BC Day Statutory Holiday, Labour Day Terry Fox Run Breast Cancer Walk for a Cure Statutory Holiday, Thanksgiving Day Hanukkah Statutory Holiday, Christmas Eve Statutory Holiday, Christmas Day Boxing Day Connect With OR AVOID

November 11 Statutory Holiday, Remembrance Day

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

53

Example of an Monthly Master Calendar
Sunday 1 Monday 2 STAT HOLIDAY 3 Tuesday 4 Wednesday 5 Thursday 6 Friday Saturday 7 THEATRE — OPENING NIGHT 14 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 21 CREEK RESTORATION BY ENGO 28 WALK FOR A CURE

8

9 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 16 COUNCIL MEETING, CITY HALL 23

10 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 17

11 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 18

12 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 19

13 LITERARY WEEK AT THE LIBRARY 20 EVENING FUNDRAISER AT HIGH SCHOOL 27

15

22

24

25

26

29

30 NOT-FORPROFIT ORGANIZATION AGM

31

© IMPACS 2002

54

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

55

Timeline
The Timeline is simply another big planning calendar that includes the dates you’ve decided to perform each of your communications activities, and all of the steps that will lead to the success of your initiatives. You can develop a timeline for each of the specific areas of your communication plan. This is especially helpful if you expect to be undertaking part of different areas of your plan concurrently, or if different people will be responsible for different pieces. We have created a sample timeline for the development of your communication plan as an outline. We recommend that you, too, start by creating a timeline for the process you will be leading. Once you have completed all of the steps that have led you to this place, it will be time to develop your second timeline: the timeline for all of the activities that your communication plan has identified. If the process of developing a communication plan is new to you, we recommend that you develop a timeline for what you hope to accomplish in the first three or four weeks. You may find that organizing a meeting in your community takes only the time to draft a short invitation and email it. Or you may find that it takes much longer, having to make each invitation one-to-one with a half-hour conversation with each invitee. Experience will be the best teacher in developing your timeline. We have provided you with a sample timeline for activities you could undertake (with just a few hours commitment per week), for the first eight weeks of your plan development on pages 57 and 58.

Things to consider when developing your timeline
If you are asking a staff person (yourself included) to undertake certain new tasks, (for instance, activities that have been created as per the strategies and tactics section of your communication plan), consider the following: How long will it really take for that person to get up to speed on the new task? If it is something that he or she has never done before, such as writing press releases, it will likely take several hours to write each one. What are you going to take off that that person’s list of responsibilities? If you don’t actually remove a task that the person currently does, then the communication work will have to be done “off the side of his or her desk,” or as overtime. This is a surefire way to guarantee failure of your new plan. Don’t forget to include the time required by the person who will be managing the person who will be managing the communication initiatives! If you are asking for support from volunteers, consider the following: Have you already identified willing volunteers to handle some of the new work? If not, give yourself several weeks to find the appropriate individuals. It is better to start a project a week or two behind schedule with the right person doing the work, than on-time with the wrong person. It’s best, of course, to start on time with the right person — so give yourself that time.

© IMPACS 2002

56

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

What our shorthand codes mean
Week: Refers to the Monday to Sunday period in which you plan to undertake an activity, or set of activities. In our model, we have used a numeric system, to give a sense of how long we expect different activities will take. In your own Timeline, you should put in actual dates, such as Nov. 5 to11. Objective: Refers to the general area of communications work that is being undertaken, that you plan to complete. Activities: These are the things you are going to do in each week. Be as specific as possible. In our model you’ll see that we don’t “Coordinate a Focus Group,” rather, we detail each of the pieces of planning that need to be done. Time Req’d: This is the time that will be required to do each activity. This is a very important column to include. It will allow you to judge how feasible your activities are in each week period. Once you record the number of hours it will take you to complete a given activity, you may realize that to succeed you will have to delay some other expectation you have on your workload, or you may bump the completion date back a week. Always overestimate the amount of time an activity will take, especially if you are undertaking an activity for the first time. Who Resp: If you are going to use the model of having one person responsible for the development of your whole communication plan, then you could consider replacing the last column, “Person Responsible,” with “People Involved” to help you track the time commitment you expect either individuals or groups of people (such as the Board of Directors) to make to the process.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

57

Sample Timeline to Develop a Strategic Communication Plan
Week

Objective Build broad consensus for our Organizational Goals and Communication Objectives

Activities Prepare a detailed agenda for our creative brainstorm meeting to identify goals and objectives. Determine the specific questions I would like the participants to consider. Motivate members of the Board, staff and long-time supporters to attend a 3-hour meeting to brainstorm our organizational goals and communication objectives. Determine an appropriate date when most people can attend.

Time Req’d 3 hours

Who Resp

1

2

1—4 hours (phone calls)

3

Call/email all participants 2 to 3 days 1 hour before our meeting and remind them of the time and place. If they are expected to bring anything with them, remind them of that too. Prepare the meeting room; make a copy of the agenda for each participant; ensure snacks are available; flip chart paper, markers and tape are in room; tape recorder has batteries, etc. Host the meeting as per our agenda. 1 hour

3 hours 6 hours

4

Take notes gathered at the meeting and compile into a brief summary to share with participants and to include in our communication plan.

© IMPACS 2002

58

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Week

Objective To determine the strengths and weaknesses we are facing in our organization: Situation Analysis: Organizational Background

Activities Prepare detailed agenda for the meeting. Determine the specific questions participants will be asked to consider. Call the individuals who will provide us with the most valuable information about our history. Determine an appropriate date when most people can attend. Call/email all participants 2 to 3 days before our meeting and remind them of the time and place. If they are expected to bring anything with them, remind them of that too. Prepare the meeting room; make a copy of the agenda for each participant; ensure snacks are available; flip chart paper, markers and tape are in room; tape recorder has batteries, etc. Host the meeting as per our agenda.

Time Req’d 3 hours

Who Resp

5

6

1—4 hours (phone calls) 1 hour

7

1 hour

3 hours 6 hours

8

Take notes gathered at the meeting and compile into a brief summary to share with participants and to include in our communication plan.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

59

Implement the Plan!
Ensure that somebody, one person, maintains responsibility for ensuring that your strategic communication plan is implemented. By now you have invested many hours of volunteer and/or staff time in the development of your plan. You have developed some great ideas that should help you achieve your organizational goals. You have included the appropriate people in the process and established staff and board support for the new plan. Don’t put the plan on the shelf and go back to business as usual! Use it. Update it. Pull it out when you are writing new funding proposals.

© IMPACS 2002

60

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

61

Evaluate the Plan
Although you can call your communication plan “complete,” please remember that a working communication plan is a living document. It should be used as a guide to help you achieve your organizational goals and objectives in the most strategic way. Your plan should be referred to and used as a tool to keep new ideas on target, always pointing your not-for-profit organization in the direction you set at the beginning of the whole process. As a living document, your plan should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure it is providing you with the guidance you require. On the very first page of this document, we noted that evaluation takes place at every stage of the development and implementation of your communication plan. Recall that a strategic communication plan: 1. identifies and endorses a particular, desired future (your goals). 2. evaluates that future against other possible futures. 3. researches which desired futures would be possible (your internal and external environments). 4. evaluates the available resources. 5. outlines what needs to be done (your objectives). 6. evaluates the consequence of actions and possible actions. 7. decides on a particular course (your strategies). 8. evaluates the effectiveness of that course. 9. communicates that action plan (your tactics). 10. evaluates the impact of your actions. Before you engage in each of the strategies and tactics in your communication plan, ask yourself and others within your not-for-profit organization to define exactly what success will look like once that activity has been completed. If you don’t meet your success target, evaluate why. Were your success measures set too high? Did you misjudge a particular audience’s expected response to your activity? Was it simply that the timing was bad? Did you achieve a success that is different from the one you defined, but equally valuable to achieving your organizational goals?

© IMPACS 2002

62

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

63

SUPPORT MATERIALS

© IMPACS 2002

64

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

65

How to Plan and Facilitate Meetings
Adapted from Organizing for Social Change, Second Edition, published by Seven Locks Press, California, 1996. We have not yet received permission to copy this information, so ask that you do not further distribute this section. Meetings can make or break your communication planning process. If your meetings are well-prepared, focused on planning for action, and facilitated in an efficient, yet involving and upbeat manner, you will accomplish a great deal. On the other hand, if your meetings are poorly planned, poorly run, and don’t focus on planning for action, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to build your communication plan. Every meeting is important and must be planned with great attention. With solid planning, good facilitation, and strong follow-up, an organization can move forward in ways that win real victories. Meetings play a significant role in achieving your goals and deserve your utmost attention. Make your organization the one with fun, productive meetings.

Preparation
Well run, effective meetings require solid preparation. The hardest part, and certainly the most time-consuming aspect of a meeting, is the planning. Consider the following: Goals It is critical that the organizer and key leaders have clear meeting goals in mind. Without them, it is difficult to figure out an agenda and hard to know who should attend. Every meeting should have concrete, realistic and measurable goals of the things you want to accomplish, such as: To identify the historical challenges our organization has overcome and successes we have celebrated To develop a strategy and timeline for a specific project or tactic To identify potential new partners, funders and allies To decide where our organization’s limited resources would best be focused Site The choice of a meeting site will affect who comes to the meeting. Criteria for choosing a site include: Familiarity — is it a place with which people are comfortable? Accessibility — is the site accessible to those you are trying to engage (the disabled, the elderly, people who rely on public transit)? Adequate facilities — small meetings need a cozy room while larger meetings need more elaborate facilities. Timing — set the meeting at a time that is most convenient for those you want to attend. You may need to call several people and suggest possible options. Chairperson — every meeting should have a Chairperson whose main job is to facilitate the meeting (in our model that person would be you!).

© IMPACS 2002

66

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Agenda As the communication plan coordinator/facilitator, it will likely be your responsibility to develop agendas for the meetings you convene. Some tips: Assure that participants receive a printed agenda in advance of the meeting List topics to be covered and objectives you hope to accomplish supply any background documents that would be helpful Apply time limits for each discussion item Ensure there is time during the meeting to get participants to commit to follow-up work Meeting Roles Assign all meeting roles before the actual meeting. There are at least five reasons for people having particular leadership roles in a meeting: 1. The first is that someone is good at something — leading a song, facilitating discussion, welcoming people, etc. 2. The second is that the responsibility is part of someone’s role — in a board meeting context, for instance, it is the Treasurer’s job to give the financial report. 3. The third reason for assigning a particular role is political — providing a leadership role to a key community leader would be good for your organization. 4. The fourth reason is to develop leaders — to give people who need experience making presentations or leading discussion an opportunity to develop their skills. 5. The fifth reason is to get people to attend — people are more likely to attend if they have an explicit role to play in the meeting. Typical roles in meetings include: Facilitator/Chairperson — this person sees that the meeting moves forward and follows the agenda, unless the agenda is changed by a vote of the group. Notetaker — this person takes notes about the meeting, either on flip chart paper for the whole group to see, on a computer so that distribution to the group following the meeting is simplified, or on regular foolscap paper. Timekeeper — this person reminds the facilitator about time constraints and has the authority to interrupt participants who dominate the meeting with their opinions or input. Presenters — a variety of people can present various ideas, as are appropriate to the objectives of the meeting. Tone-setter — this person can open and close the meeting with a centering exercise. Greeter — it is nice to have one person dedicated to welcoming people to the meeting. If people attending won’t all know each other, this person would also provide name tags.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

67

Room Arrangements/Logistics Before the meeting, assess the actual room you will use in order to plan the room arrangements and logistical details. Possible items to consider include: Chair arrangements — chairs in a circle or around a table encourage discussion. Set up fewer chairs than the number expected, It’s better to add chairs than have chairs sitting empty. Have additional chairs readily accessible, perhaps stacked to the side of the room. Places to hang flip charts — will tape damage walls? Is an easel available? Outlets for audio-visual equipment — will you need an overhead projector? Will you need extension cords? Refreshments — do you plan to have refreshments? If so, who will bring them? Can someone else bring cups and plates? Do you need outlets for a coffee pot and kettle? Who will handle clean-up? Asking people to bring items or to help arrange things for the meeting helps assure their attendance. Assign people to bring coffee, cups, cookies, tablecloths, flowers, etc. Ask another person, or people, to set-up the chairs. Delegating tasks ahead of time may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but it gets people involved in the meeting and your organization. It also helps the meeting run more smoothly, which people appreciate. Turnout If you want your meetings to be well-attended, have one person call all the participants one to three days before the meeting to remind them. These calls have an organizing function as well as aiding turnout. Explain the issues that will be discussed at the meeting, why they are important and identify points of controversy.

Meeting Facilitation
Every meeting should be enjoyable, run efficiently, and build organizational morale. Although these characteristics may be difficult to measure, they are terribly important. No one wants to attend meetings that are boring or poorly run. Efficient meetings respect people’s time as their most valuable resource. They also build organizational morale by generating a sense of unity and helping people respect and support one another. Every meeting needs a facilitator, a person who helps the meeting accomplish its goals. In order to be adequately prepared, the Chairperson must know ahead of time that he or she will facilitate the meeting. There’s nothing worse than arriving and asking, “Okay, who’s chairing this meeting?” If no one has prepared to facilitate, the meeting will probably be poorly run. Being a good facilitator is both a skill and an art. It is a skill in that people can learn certain techniques and improve their ability with practice. It is an art in that some people have more of a knack for it than others. Facilitating a meeting requires someone to: understand the goals of the meeting and the organization; keep the group on the agenda and moving forward;

© IMPACS 2002

68

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

involve everyone in the meeting, both controlling the domineering people and drawing out the shy ones; and make sure that decisions are made democratically. The Chair must assure that decisions are made, plans are developed, and commitments made, but in a manner that is enjoyable for all concerned. A good Chair is concerned about both the meeting’s content and style. By having the other roles suggested, such as notetakers and timekeepers, the Chair has some assistance in moving the agenda along. Here are some guides for meeting facilitation: Start the Meeting Promptly Few meetings actually begin on time these days, but you do not want to penalize those who did come on time. For large group meetings, plan to start within ten to fifteen minutes of the official beginning time. For smaller meetings, start exactly on time. Welcome Everyone Make a point to welcome everyone who comes to the meeting. Do not, under any circumstances, bemoan the size of the group. Once you are at a meeting, the people there are the people there. Go with what you have. Introduce People If just a few people are new, ask them to introduce themselves. If the group as a whole does not know each other well, ask people to answer a question or tell something about themselves that provides useful information for the group or the Chairperson. The kinds of questions you should ask depend upon the kind of meeting it is, the number of people participating, and the overall goals of the meeting. Sample introductory questions include: How did you first get involved with our organization? What is/has been your role with our organization? What attracted you to get involved with our organization? It is important to make everyone feel welcome and listened to at the beginning of a meeting. Otherwise, participants may feel uncomfortable and unappreciated and won’t participate well in later parts of the meeting. The Chair of the meeting may need to introduce him or herself and tell why he or she is speaking or facilitating the meeting. This is especially true when people are unfamiliar with the Chairperson. It never hurts for the Chairperson to explain how long they have been a part of the organization, how important the organization is to them, and what outcomes they hope for from the meeting. Review the Agenda Go over what’s going to happen in the meeting. Ask the group if the agenda is adequate. While it will be fine 90 percent of the time, someone will suggest an additional item in the other 10 percent. Either the item can be addressed directly in the meeting, or you can explain how and when the issue can be addressed.
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

69

Explain the Meeting Rules Most groups need some basic rules of order for meetings. You can post these on a flip chart so everyone sees them throughout the meeting. Some common rules of order are: Do Personally welcome newcomers Actively listen to others Support the facilitator in moving the agenda ahead Recommend ways to resolve differences Participate in discussions Encourage new people to speak and volunteer Be positive and upbeat throughout the meeting Don’t ⌧ Dominate the discussion ⌧ Bring up tangents ⌧ Dwell on past problems ⌧ Insist that people support your ideas Encourage Participation Every meeting should involve the people who come. Encourage leaders and organizers to listen to people. Seek feedback and advice from people and thank them for their input. Don’t argue with participants’ points of view. Draw out those who seem withdrawn from discussions. Stick to the Agenda Groups have a tendency to wander far from the original agenda. When you hear the discussion wandering off, bring it to the group’s attention. You can say, “That’s an interesting issue, but perhaps we should get back to the original matter of discussion.” Avoid Detailed Decision-Making Unless it is the goal of the meeting, help the group not to get immersed in details, suggesting instead, “Perhaps a smaller committee could resolve this matter. You don’t really want to be involved in this level of detail, do you?” Move to Action Meetings should not only provide an opportunity for people to talk, but should also challenge them to plan ways to confront and change the issue on the table. Avoid holding meetings just to “discuss” things or “educate” people. Meetings should plan effective actions to build the organization. Seek Commitments Getting commitments for future involvement is usually a goal of most meetings. You want leaders to commit to certain tasks, people to volunteer to help on a campaign, or organizations to commit to support your group. Make sure that adequate time is allocated to seeking commitment. For small meetings, write people’s names on a

© IMPACS 2002

70

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

sheet of flip chart paper next to the tasks they agree to undertake. The Chairperson may want to ask each individual directly how they want to help. One golden rule, especially for meetings of less than ten people, is that everyone should leave the meeting with something to do. Don’t ever close a meeting by saying that you will get back to people to confirm how they might be involved. Seize the moment. Confirm how people want to get involved at the meeting. Bring Closure to Discussion Most groups will discuss items ten times longer than needed, unless the facilitator helps them recognize that they are basically in agreement. Formulate a consensus position, or ask someone in the group to formulate a position that reflects the group’s general position, then move forward. Respect Everyone’s Rights The facilitator is the protector of the weak in meetings. He or she encourages quiet and shy people to speak, and does not allow domineering people to ridicule others’ ideas or to embarrass them in any fashion. Try one of these phrases for dealing with domineering people: “We’ve heard a lot from the men this evening, are there women who have additional comments?” (assuming the domineering person was a man). Or, “We’ve heard a lot from this side of the room. Are there people with thoughts on the other side of the room?” Or, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t spoken yet.” Sometimes people dominate a discussion because they are really interested in an issue and have lots of ideas. There may be ways to capture their interest without having them continue to dominate the meeting. For example, ask then to serve on a taskforce or committee on that matter. In other situations, people just talk to hear themselves. If a person regularly participates in your organization's meetings and regularly creates a problem, a key leader should talk with him or her about helping involve new people and drawing others out at meetings. Be Flexible Occasionally, issues and concerns arise that are so important, you must alter the agenda to discuss them before returning to the prepared agenda. If necessary, ask for a five-minute break in the meeting to discuss with key leaders how to handle the issue and how to restructure the agenda. Be prepared to recommend an alternate agenda, dropping items if necessary. Summarize the Meeting Results and Follow-Up Before closing a meeting, summarize what happened and what follow-up will occur. Review the commitments people made to reinforce them, as well as to remind them how effective the meeting was.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

71

Thank People Take a moment to thank people who prepared things for the meeting, set up the room, brought refreshments, or typed up the agenda. Also, thank everyone for making the meeting a success. Close the Meeting on or Before the Ending Time Unless a meeting is really exciting, people want it to end on time. And remember, no one minds getting out of a meeting early.

Follow-Up
There are two main principles for meeting follow-up: do it, and do it promptly. If meetings are not followed up promptly, much of the work accomplished at the time will be lost. Don’t waste people’s time by not following up the meeting. There’s nothing worse than holding a good planning meeting, but then allowing decisions and plans to fall through the cracks because follow-up was neglected. Make sure that your notetaker prepares the meeting notes soon after the meeting. Otherwise, he or she will forget what the comments mean, and they will be useless later. Organizers should work with notetakers to assure that these notes are clear and produced in a timely fashion. Call active members who missed the meeting. Tell them you missed them and update them on the meeting’s outcomes. If you are actively seeking new members, call anyone who indicated that he or she would come, and not just active members. Thank the people who helped make the meeting successful. Send a brief card or note. Call new people who came to the meeting. Thank them for coming and see about setting up one-on-one meetings with people who look like potential leaders. Be sure to follow-up with people while their interest is still fresh. Once the minutes are prepared, write relevant reminder notes in your calendar. For example, if someone agreed to research something by March 15, jot down a call to that person on March 7 and inquire about how the research is progressing. Place a copy of the meeting notes in an organizational notebook or file so that everyone knows where the “institutional memory” is kept.

© IMPACS 2002

72

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Meeting Checklist
Have you set concrete, realistic goals? Is the site familiar, accessible, representative and adequate? Are the date and time good for those you want to attend? Do you have a Chairperson for the meting? Has the Chairperson been involved in preparing the agenda or been fully briefed? Does the agenda: Accomplish the goals Encourage commitment and involvement Provide visible leadership roles Do you need: Printed agenda Background materials Have you asked people to serve as the: Chairperson/facilitator — who? Notetaker — who? Timekeeper — who? Presenters — who? Tone-setter (open and close meeting) — who? Greeter (welcome people) — who? Refreshments, serve/prepare — who? Have you considered the following logistical matters: Chair arrangements Flip chart paper, markers and tape Audio visual support, extension cords and power outlets Refreshments Do you have a turnout plan and enough people working on turnout calls? Do you have a system for comparing those who said they’d come to those who actually came? Have you arranged for childcare for participants who need that support? Do you have transportation for those who need it?

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

73

How to Facilitate a Creative Brainstorm
Facilitating an effective creative brainstorm may not be soothing you have ever done before. The description of the process that follows may feel very loose or out-of-control. The process does allow for out-of-control, or, out-of-the-box thinking which is very important when you are trying to come up with new strategies and tactics to achieve your goals and objectives. Try it! Step One Put a specific question to the group. Ensure participants stick to the question. Record ideas on a flip chart and post these pages on the wall around the room so that all participants can clearly see them. Encourage participants to be succinct. Ask people to keep their ideas to about ten words — headlines, not full paragraphs. As the facilitator, you must avoid commenting on ideas. Do not allow others to comment on ideas. Ask everyone to suspend judgement about ideas — analysis will come later, in the “do something” step. As the facilitator, your role will be to keep the ideas flowing. Keep ideas broad and general. The specifics can be developed in Step Three. When recording ideas ensure you use the speakers’ words. Wild and crazy is okay. Repetition is okay. Piggybacking on each other’s ideas is great. Step Two Do something with the ideas you have generated. Either: Prioritize the ideas with the group and discuss the most promising One effective way to prioritize ideas is to provide each participant with five to ten stickers and have them put their stickers beside the idea or ideas that they believe to be most promising. This process is often called “dotmocracy.” You can allow people to distribute their stickers in any way they want: one sticker on each of three ideas, two stickers on one idea and another on a second idea, or all three stickers on one idea. (If you don’t have stickers, give each person a marker and ask them to put a mark beside their favorite ideas). Cluster the ideas for more discussion If there are a few broad areas of interest, you can put those together and break the full group into smaller groups to discuss the merits of the ideas in their cluster, rank their ideas from most promising to least. Then the group can rejoin as a full group and discuss the most promising ideas together. Scan the material and check whether all participants agree with the list In this case, you may eliminate some ideas that the group does not feel are appropriate and take the list away to work on at a staff level. In the case of ideas that require research to determine how feasible they would be to implement, this is an appropriate way to deal with the ideas.

© IMPACS 2002

74

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Step Three Engage in a discussion about the pros and cons of the top ideas. Continue to think creatively. Ask, “how can we do this in a way that nobody has ever done before?” Or, “what advantage will our group have in undertaking this idea that no other group has?”

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

75

How to Facilitate a Focus Group
Focus groups are a powerful means to evaluate your not-for-profit organization’s services or test new ideas, such as new programming. Basically, focus groups are interviews, but of 6-10 people at the same time in the same group. One can get a great deal of information during a focus group session. Preparing for a focus group is not dissimilar to preparing to preparing for any other meeting, as we have described in the previous section of this handbook. 1. Meeting objective — Identify the major objective of the meeting. In this case, it will be to identify how well your not-for-profit organization is positioned in your community, or some similar communication-related objective. 2. Focus Group questions — Carefully develop your focus group questions. Always first ask yourself what problem or need will be addressed by the information gathered during the session. This will vary for each not-for-profit organization, but in the context of developing your communication plan, the list of questions that follow will provide you with a good guide to get started. Given that your focus group should last about an-hour-and-a-half, the most you can expect to cover is five or six questions. 3. Inviting participants — First, call potential participants to invite them to the meeting. Send those interested in participating a follow-up invitation with a proposed agenda, session time and place and list of questions the group will discuss. About three days before the session, call each participant to remind them to attend. 4. Scheduling — Plan the focus group to last one-and-a-half hours. Over lunch seems to be a very good time for working people to attend. 5. Setting and Refreshments — Hold sessions in a room with adequate air flow and lighting. Configure chairs so that all participants can see each other. Provide name tags for participants, as well. Provide refreshments, especially if the session is held over lunch. 6. Ground Rules — It's critical that all participants participate as much as possible, yet the session move along while generating useful information. Because the session is often a one-time occurrence, it's useful to have a few, short ground rules that sustain participation, yet do so with focus. Consider the following three ground rules: a) keep focused, b) maintain momentum and c) get closure on questions. 7. Membership - Focus groups are usually conducted with 6-10 members who have some similar nature, e.g., similar age group, status in a program, etc. Select members who are likely to be participative and reflective. Attempt to select members who don't know each other. 8. Plan to record the session with either an audio or audio-video recorder. Don't count on your memory. If this isn't practical, involve a note-taker.

© IMPACS 2002

76

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

77

Sample Communication Plans — Four Approaches Eye Disease Education Program For People with Diabetes
Communication Plan: April 1991

I. Introduction II. Background III. Overview Of Communication Plan--A Diabetic Eye Disease Education Program For People With Diabetes IV. Messages, Channels, and Materials V. Evaluation Sources

I. Introduction
Diabetes affects approximately 14 million Americans, and about 40 percent of all people with diabetes have at least mild signs of diabetic retinopathy, the most common ocular complication of diabetes.1,2 Other ocular complications include cataract and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults 25 to 74 years of age.3 People with diabetes are at significantly higher risk of blindness than the general population.2 Therefore, one priority of the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) is to increase awareness and knowledge of diabetic eye disease and to encourage actions to prevent loss of vision.4 The NEHEP is being coordinated by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with other public and private organizations concerned with eye health. This document outlines the communication plan for the diabetic eye disease education program, formulated as a result of recommendations presented at a NEHEP Planning Conference in March 1989, planning documents produced by the NEHEP staff since that time, and deliberations of the NEHEP Planning Committee. The plan describes an education program for people with diabetes. In developing the plan further, the NEHEP staff will identify current education efforts and the most critical gaps in public knowledge, attitudes, and practices. The staff will also actively seek opportunities to work in partnership with other interested organizations. Therefore, the tasks outlined here for the diabetic eye disease communication program will be prioritized according to need, opportunities for collaboration, and potential impact in order to use the NEHEP's resources most effectively.

© IMPACS 2002

78

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

The first section of this communication plan for educating people with diabetes about diabetic eye disease presents the need for the Program, Program objectives, target audiences, and target audience research. The subsequent section covers messages, channels, and materials.

II. Background
National Eye Institute Eye disease, visual impairment and disability, and blindness are major public health problems. In the United States alone, more than 11 million people have some degree of visual impairment uncorrectable by glasses.5 Of this visually impaired population, approximately 890,000 people are legally blind.6 In addition to the physical and emotional stresses associated with eye disease and blindness, there are significant economic burdens. Eye disorders and blindness are estimated to cost the nation more than $16 billion annually.7 Convinced that visual disorders constituted a national problem that could only be solved by greater emphasis on vision research, Congress authorized the establishment of the National Eye Institute (NEI) in 1968 as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Institute's mission is to conduct research in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of diseases of the eye and visual system. National Eye Health Education Program Since its inception, the NEI has conducted a public information program, responding to inquiries and disseminating authoritative information on eye disease and the progress of vision research. Educational materials for the public have described the causes, if known, of common eye diseases; their signs and symptoms; methods of prevention and treatment; referrals to sources of help; and current, relevant research. Blindness prevention education has become more feasible during the last decade when the results of several clinical trials provided dramatic evidence that laser treatment could reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Although the NEI has long been committed to communicating research results to appropriate audiences, a sustained, large-scale health education program has, until recently, been precluded by a lack of funding and personnel. However, beginning in fiscal year 1988, Congress appropriated funds that have enabled the NEI to increase its commitment to the prevention of blindness through public and professional education programs and the encouragement of regular eye examinations. This was the first distinct NEI Congressional appropriation designated for eye health promotion and education. In response, the NEI has established the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) to implement large-scale information, education, and applied research
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

79

programs. The initial emphasis of the NEHEP is on public, patient, and professional education concerning the importance of early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease and glaucoma. These blinding eye diseases have been selected as the Program's initial focus for three reasons:
• •

The high prevalence of these diseases; The scientific evidence demonstrating that blindness caused by these diseases can frequently be prevented by early detection and treatment; The existence of important health messages that need to be conveyed to a variety of target audiences.

In the future, other topics, such as coping with low vision, may be addressed. The goals of the NEHEP are:

To increase awareness of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease in selected high-risk target audiences in the United States. To increase awareness of the importance of early detection of glaucoma and diabetic eye disease in preventing visual loss, with the ultimate goal of appropriate behavior change. To increase health care providers' awareness of the need for regular, comprehensive eye examinations with dilated pupils for those at risk for glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, with the ultimate goal of appropriate behavior change. To encourage these groups to take appropriate action based on their increased awareness.

Additional background information on the NEHEP, including its operating principles, is contained in From Vision Research to Eye Health Education: Planning the Partnership.4 The NEHEP Partnership consists of organizations interested in eye health education and capable of furthering the achievement of the goals of the NEHEP. This group includes professional, voluntary, and civic organizations; federal, state and local agencies; and private industry. Invitations to join the NEHEP Partnership were extended to the 35 organizations represented at the 1989 Planning Conference.

© IMPACS 2002

80

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

III. Overview Of Communication Plan—A Diabetic Eye Disease Education Program For People With Diabetes
This section of the plan for educating people with diabetes about diabetic eye disease presents the need for the Program and describes Program objectives, target audiences, and target audience research. The Program Need As already stated, there are 14 million people with diabetes in the United States, about half of whom do not know they have this disorder.1 Each year, 700,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed.1 Overall, people with diabetes are estimated to be 25 times more likely to develop blindness than people without diabetes of similar age and sex.2 People with diabetes are at increased risk for glaucoma, cataract, and diabetic retinopathy.2 Diabetic retinopathy, the most important of the ocular complications, is often asymptomatic until its later stages, after the optimal time for treatment. Thus, recognition of diabetic retinopathy in its earlier, asymptomatic stages is important. Review of existing data regarding knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to diabetic eye disease reveals that:

Two recent studies showed that 32 to 50 percent of the people with diabetes had minimal or no ophthalmologic eye examinations and subsequently were at high risk for unrecognized diabetic eye disease.8,9 A regional study of people with diabetes who had not had an eye examination in the last year found that virtually all respondents believed that diabetes had made them vulnerable to losing their eyesight. However, respondents said that they had not had their eyes checked because of cost or lack of symptoms.10 Most people in a focus group setting seemed to view the health of their eyes in the abstract rather than the concrete. Asymptomatic problems did not seem real, even though respondents stated how important their eyes were to them.11

Clearly, more people with diabetes need to seek regular, comprehensive eye examinations to safeguard their vision. This Program initiative will seek to increase awareness and knowledge and to motivate people with diabetes to seek eye care. Although the primary focus will be on diabetic retinopathy, information on the other eye complications of diabetes, such as glaucoma and cataract, will be included. Program Objectives Five Program objectives have been established:

To increase awareness of diabetic eye disease.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

81

To increase knowledge that the risk of blindness from diabetic eye disease can be reduced with early detection and treatment. To encourage people with diabetes to seek annual comprehensive eye examinations with dilated pupils by trained health care professionals. To encourage people with diabetic eye disease to comply with appropriate treatment regimens. To encourage inquiries for more information.

Target Audiences Participants in the 1989 NEHEP Planning conference recommended two target audiences for this Program: people with diabetes and health care professionals.4 They also recommended that messages be directed to family members and other groups, including educators and clergy. Primary Target Audience: People with Diabetes. The primary target audience selected for this Program will be people with diabetes. Factors that increase the risk of diabetic eye disease will be emphasized, such as duration of diabetes, degree of blood sugar elevation, pregnancy, and elevated blood pressure. In subsequent phases of the Program, strategies will be developed to reach and influence certain groups—Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans—in which diabetes is more prevalent than in the general population. Secondary Target Audiences: Important secondary audiences are those who can influence or support the health practices of individuals at risk. These audiences include:
• •

Family members of at-risk individuals Health care professionals (e.g., physicians, diabetes educators, nurses, and pharmacists) Other intermediaries (e.g., clergy).

Family members of people with diabetes can be key in providing information and motivating others at risk to seek eye examinations. Health care professionals are a very credible source of information for their patients, and provide direct access to people with diabetes who are in the medical care system. Physicians who care for people with diabetes are in the best position to counsel these patients about the need for eye examinations and to refer them for eye care. These physicians are also perceived by their patients as very credible information and referral sources. People with diabetes who participated in NEHEP focus groups expressed the belief that their physicians would "take care of them."11

© IMPACS 2002

82

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Other health care professionals (diabetes educators, pharmacists, nutrition educators, nurses, social workers) also are in an excellent position to provide diabetes management advice. Pharmacists offer a logical access point, especially for insulin-taking diabetic patients, who are at higher risk for diabetic eye disease. They are in a position to suggest that all people with diabetes should have their eyes examined with dilated pupils. During the first phase of the Program, the emphasis will be placed on identifying strategies for involving primary care physicians and pharmacists in reaching people with diabetes. In addition, materials will be developed for use by organizations, which may include other health care professionals, such as diabetes educators, nurses, and social workers. Target Audience Research Planning for the diabetic eye disease program is based on existing information related to target audience knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) identified through a literature review. In addition, a series of focus group discussions have been conducted in varied geographic locations with people with diabetes and with their family members.11 The findings from these discussions have been incorporated into this plan and into the design of a national survey of public knowledge, attitudes, and practices about eye health and disease. This survey will be commissioned to gather baseline data and to refine communication strategies. Survey results will be available in 1991. Public release of survey results is planned, and diabetic eye disease education messages and strategies will be modified as necessary based upon survey findings. In addition, the NEI hopes to conduct an extensive analysis of data gathered in the 1989 diabetes supplement of the National Health Interview Survey.

IV. Messages, Channels, and Materials
This section of the communication plan covers messages, channels, and materials. Included under messages are discussions of information gaps, barriers to acceptance, and appeals. Community channels and interpersonal channels are described. Formats, the need for cultural sensitivity and pretesting are covered under materials. Messages Most Americans are bombarded with hundreds of messages daily. In addition to this general "message clutter," diabetic eye disease messages must compete with the many other health-related issues discussed daily in the news, in advertisements, and in individual conversations. For people with diabetes, the problem is compounded by the significant amount of information required to manage diabetes and its complications. Also, in comparison with other complications of diabetes that present symptoms and discomfort, such ocular
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

83

complications as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma often remain asymptomatic until well past the optimal time for treatment. Therefore, the need for both information and attention may be less obvious than for other diabetic complications. Information Gaps. People with diabetes and their health care providers need to know that:

About two out of five people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy (a common complication of diabetes). In initial stages, there are no symptoms of diabetic eye disease or glaucoma, another potential threat to the vision of people with diabetes. Diabetic eye disease may remain mild, but it can result in visual impairment or blindness. Diabetic eye disease can develop even if diabetes is under control. Early detection and timely treatment can improve chances of saving vision. Laser treatment can prevent vision loss in many patients with diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetes should have annual comprehensive eye examinations with dilated pupils. Some people with diabetes are at even higher risk than other people with diabetes. If detected early, diabetic eye disease may be managed appropriately and vision preserved in most patients.

• •

Barriers to Acceptance: People with Diabetes. Message development should consider these barriers to message acceptance and action:
• • •

Denial of diabetes Limited awareness of diabetic eye disease Misconceptions such as "if you can see right, there's nothing wrong with your eyes" (cited by 30 percent of respondents—projectable to 55 million adults—in a recent survey) 12 Misconceptions that eye examinations are needed only if there are symptoms present and that controlling blood sugar levels eliminates the risk of visual loss Fear of blindness

© IMPACS 2002

84

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

• • • • •

Perceived discomfort of diagnostic tests Lack of familiarity with sources of eye care Lack of access to services Time and cost of comprehensive eye examinations Lack of health insurance coverage for preventive or routine eye examinations Concern for "more important" chronic disease management or diabetic complications Lack of reinforcement from health care professionals.

Barriers to Acceptance: Health Care Professionals. Messages should consider these barriers to information acceptance and action:

An escalating amount of health information that must be incorporated into practices Conflicting priorities and time constraints Limited continuing professional education on diabetic eye disease Limited access to or awareness of specialized referral contacts in some areas Limited knowledge of community resources available to support the medical, emotional and financial needs of people with diabetes.

• • •

Appeals. The message appeals used to attract attention must be relevant to people with diabetes and be credible. For example, testimonials might be used to illustrate the information. Identified appeals include:

Remember to take care of your eyes as you take care of other health/lifestyle needs. Vision is important to maintaining your personal independence. Yearly eye examinations provide peace of mind about diabetic eye disease. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can protect against vision loss.

• •

One study identified predictors of compliance with screening recommendations, including a history of ophthalmologic care, experience in coping with diabetes and more severe symptoms of the disease, and urban rather than rural residence.13 A consideration of these factors might result in other relevant appeals.
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

85

Spokespersons. Generally, the preferences for health information spokespersons most often cited by people with diabetes are "people like me" and physicians. Celebrities are less frequently cited as health spokespersons and may not be credible unless they have a direct relationship with the health topic. Channels A combination of channels will be used:
• •

Community channels especially relevant to the person with diabetes Interpersonal channels to provide credibility and stimulate action.

Using as many channels as possible will provide repetition of messages, an important factor in raising awareness and knowledge and in motivating to action. Community. Organizations within the community can offer direct access to people with diabetes, can distribute information, and help provide referral to services. Together with interpersonal delivery, community channels can form a strong support network, with each channel reinforcing the message, encouraging those at risk to seek more information and eye examinations. Community outlets for information about diabetic eye disease include community health centers, health maintenance organizations, hospital outpatient clinics and emergency rooms, churches, supermarkets, and eye care chains, among others. Interpersonal. Interpersonal channels communicate on an individual level, which permits answering questions and in other ways making information more relevant to individual needs. The primary interpersonal channels for the first phase of this Program will be pharmacists and physicians. Additional channels may include diabetes educators and other health care professionals. The strategy for promoting interpersonal communications will be to coordinate activities with national membership organizations as NEHEP resources permit. Materials The first step will be to locate existing educational materials and resources on diabetic eye disease. This task is being carried out through interviews with NEHEP Partnership members and the establishment of an eye health education subfile of the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a computerized bibliographic database, developed and managed by agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service. Formats. Once gaps in available materials have been identified, the first priority will be to develop a "core" set of diabetic eye disease education materials. Specific materials will include:

An attractive, short diabetic eye disease fact sheet, simple but complete; inexpensive to print; and reproducible by NEHEP Partnership members;

© IMPACS 2002

86

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

A community "planner's kit" of supporting materials for use by organizations and health care professionals (e.g., fact sheets, resource list, program guide with publicity tips and program ideas, speaker's materials—including presentation points, visuals, and questions and answers—poster, print ads/articles, kit folder, logo sheet, and evaluation card); A kit for pharmacists, including samples of patient education materials for display racks, direct mail or bag inserts, print ads/short articles for magazine or newsletter placement, poster, program guide, and evaluation card; and An exhibit for meetings of NEHEP Partners, medical and health-related organizations, and other interested groups.

The materials production strategy will be to:

Produce a few simple, inexpensive materials designed to increase awareness and knowledge and to motivate people with diabetes to take action. Print large quantities of reproducible materials to be used by NEHEP Partnership organizations.

The need for cultural sensitivity. People with diabetes can be found in many ethnic groups; incidence is high in the Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities. Therefore, all messages and materials will be carefully tested for multicultural appropriateness. Pretesting. All messages and materials will be tested with the target audience prior to final production to assure understanding, appeal, and personal and cultural relevancy. Materials will be revised as necessary. Role of the NEHEP Partnership The strategy for promoting messages and materials about diabetic eye disease will be to identify and work with the NEHEP Partnership. The first priority will be collaboration with intermediaries who are already interested and/or involved in similar activities. Such collaboration will strengthen existing efforts while identifying the NEI as an additional resource. A range of collaborative activities between the NEI and Partnership members is underway, including:
• • •

Help in developing, reviewing, and field testing materials Promoting and distributing materials Conducting presentations to patients and health care professionals

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

87

• •

Promoting messages through publications and newsletters Implementing educational programs for high-risk groups.

A parallel strategy will be to recruit additional NEHEP Partners from organizations with a special reach to or credibility with the target audiences. The criteria for assigning priority to collaboration will include:
• • • •

Access to the target audiences Credibility with the target audiences Interest in collaboration Potential effect of the proposed activity.

NEHEP staff also will seek cooperative opportunities with the business sector through trade associations, appropriate retailers, and manufacturers. Response to Public Interest The NEI is expanding its inquiry capability in expectation of the increased demand for information as a result of NEHEP activities. This expansion includes the establishment of an easy-to-recall address to invite inquiries for more information: National Eye Health Education Program, Box 20/20, Bethesda, MD 20892. Supporting materials such as fact sheets and standard paragraphs are being developed to facilitate inquiry response. The NEI's public inquiry response program will provide easy access to up-to-date information as well as the benefits of individually tailored communication. This will provide an important service to the public and strengthen the NEHEP as a central resource for those seeking information. In addition, a means for evaluating NEHEP activities will be possible through the collection and analysis of inquiry data. Future plans for inquiry response include the establishment of a national toll-free telephone information service, based on an assessment of the interests and needs of the target audiences. When this service is established, the toll-free telephone number will be used on all materials developed for the NEHEP.

V. Evaluation
Evaluation measures will be woven into diabetic eye disease education program as they are developed to track progress, justify expenditures, and make any necessary revisions in the communication plan and activities. Examples include:

Formative measures such as pretesting of messages and materials

© IMPACS 2002

88

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Process/outcome measures including materials distribution and use, and analysis of public inquiries Outcome measures such as a comparison of baseline data gathered through the national 1991 KAP survey, with follow-up to assess changes in several years.

The NEI will also develop an applied research program on diabetic eye disease that will complement this plan.

Sources (Cited in order of appearance in text)
(1) Centers for Disease Control. Prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus— United States, 1980-1987. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 39:809-812, 1990. (2) Klein R, Klein BEK, Moss SE. Visual Impairment in Diabetes. Ophthalmology 91:1-9, 1984. (3) Diabetes in America. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Chapter XIII, August 1985. (4) National Eye Institute. From Vision Research to Eye Health Education: Planning the Partnership. Bethesda, MD, NEI, March 1990. (5) National Society to Prevent Blindness. Vision Problems in the U.S. Data Analysis: Definitions, Data Sources, Detailed Data Tables, Analysis, Integration. New York. National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1980, pp1-46. (6) Tielsch JM, Sommer A, Witt K, Katz J, Royall RM. Blindness and Visual Impairment in an American Urban Population. Archives of Ophthalmology 108:286, February 1990. (7) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Summary and Critique of Available Data on the Prevalence and Economic and Social Costs of Visual Disorders and Disabilities. Report prepared for the National Eye Institute. Bethesda, MD, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, US DHHS, 1976. (8) Sprafka JM, Fritsche TL, Baker R, Kurth D, Whipple D. Prevalence of Undiagnosed Eye Diseases in High-risk Individuals. Archives of Internal Medicine 150:857-861, 1990. (9) Witkin SR, Klein R. Ophthalmologic Care for People with Diabetes. JAMA 251:2534-2537, 1984.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

89

Wisconsin Environmental Education Board
Communication Plan: 2000-2001 Background The need in Wisconsin to strengthen efforts to communicate the value of EE and increase support for EE was identified at the 1995 Wisconsin Environmental Education Board EE Summit. Both the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education (WAEE) and the WEEB discussed strategies for addressing this need. In 1998 an ad-hoc committee of the WAEE Board, chaired by Paul Wozniak developed a WAEE Communications Plan addressing this need. Also during 1998, the staff of the UW-SP based National Environmental Education Advancement Project (NEEAP) worked with representatives of the WAEE Communications Committee, WEEB, the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, UW Extension, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop the "EE Works for Wisconsin" promotional materials. In January of 1998 NEEAP and the WAEE Communications Committee sponsored a media training workshop for Wisconsin EE leaders. Also during 1998, a Communications Committee of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board, chaired by Pat Marinac, developed a plan to build upon previous efforts to promote EE in Wisconsin. During the summer of 1999 Dr. Rick Wilke proposed bringing together the WAEE, WEEB and NEEAP efforts for the purpose of more effectively promoting EE in Wisconsin. He offered the assistance of graduate students in his EE Research Seminar. The graduate students with advice from Dr. Wilke and input from key representatives of WAEE, WEEB and NEEAP designed and assisted in the implementation of a communication plan to promote EE in Wisconsin. The group used the WAEE Communication Plan as a starting point in the development of their plan. VISION The development and implementation of a Wisconsin EE Communications/Promotion Plan will result in a demonstrated increase in recognition, acceptance and support for EE by decision makers on school boards, parent organizations, school administrative staffs, members of the legislature, and the news media. MISSION To achieve broader public acceptance and support for EE in Wisconsin. TIMEFRAME: January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2001

© IMPACS 2002

90

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

GOALS 1. To communicate the value of EE to Wisconsin school board members and school administrative staff and to increase their support for EE. 2. To help elected/appointed officials understand the importance of EE and increase their support of EE programs. 3. To increase recognition and support for EE by members of the news media in Wisconsin. 4. To increase support from parents and members of parent organizations for EE within their schools. 5. To improve the implementation of Wisconsin’s existing EE teacher training requirement at universities and colleges. A major part of the effort to achieve these goals will be completed by volunteers across the state, including parents, teachers, administrators, and business people who support EE in Wisconsin. To help these volunteers become organized and to give them a head start in their effort, an organizing packet was developed and will be sent to select individuals across the state (UWSP EE Summer Master’s program students, EE Liaisons, and EE centers/organizations in the state). The packet will describe for the volunteers what kind of action is needed to support EE in their community and how they can take that action. It will include the following information pertaining to all five goals: Information about how to use the packet Frequently Asked Questions about EE 12 Reasons for EE "EE Works for Wisconsin" brochure Tips for writing letters and news releases in support of EE Questions for parents to ask school boards about EE in their community o Example letters and news releases in support of EE including: o Letter from a parent to parent organization o Letter from a teacher to parent organization o Letter to the editor to alert public of the need for EE o Letter to the editor to encourage school district support for EE o Letter to school board member from parent o Follow up letter to school board member from parent o News release highlighting key messages of EE and successful EE programs in the area
o o o o o o

Specific examples of documents to assist with all the organization or implementation steps with an asterisk (*) after them are included in a separate organizing packet.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

91

GOAL # 1 To communicate the value of EE to Wisconsin school board members and school administrative staffs and to increase their support for EE. Objective 1A – School boards and school administrative staffs will evaluate their district’s K-12 EE curriculum requirements and support the development and implementation of curriculum plans based on the new DPI EE Guidelines. Objective 1B - School boards and school administrative staffs will increase their support for EE programs by placing greater emphasis on funding and staff development. Strategies for Targeting School Boards and School Administrative Staffs A) Organizational Steps
o

Obtain mailing lists of school administrative staffs, including school principals, curriculum coordinators and district superintendents. Determine the level of implementation and evaluation of the legislatively required EE Curriculum plans in Wisconsin school districts through surveys completed with the assistance of the EE Liaison Teachers and the teachers enrolled in the Summer EE Master’s program at the UW-SP. (Based on prior research and on recently completed research it is known that implementation levels are low). Develop a news release highlighting the lack of school district compliance with state legislation and Department of Public Instruction rules requiring the development, implementation and evaluation of K-12 EE Curriculum Plans. The story will also point to other shortcomings: a) lack of EE assessment, b) unlike surrounding states, Wisconsin has no DPI EE Specialist position, etc. Story – Wisconsin schools are not meeting state requirements to provide an environmental education to our children. Surrounding states are doing much more. This is in spite of the fact that 96% of the nation’s parents want EE taught to their children in schools. Develop components of the organizing packet including: * An explanation of the benefits of EE Example letters to school board members and school administrative staffs o Specific questions to ask school board members and school administrative staffs o Key messages to communicate to school board members and school administrative staffs
o o

o

o

o

© IMPACS 2002

92

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

o

Example letters to the editor describing the need for increased emphasis on EE in the local K—12 curriculum. The packet will also include suggestions for implementing this effort.

o

Identify organizations and individuals who are willing to become involved in efforts to communicate the need for EE in the K-12 curriculum to school boards and school administrative staffs. Develop and disseminate a persuasive article for appropriate newsletters (WAEE, Wisconservation, etc.) and targeted mailings (WAEE members, etc.) describing the need to communicate to school boards and school administrative staffs the importance of strengthening EE in their districts. The article would also request people to become involved in this effort and provide information on how to obtain the organizing packet containing implementation suggestions and resources.

o

B) Implementation Steps
o

Distribute the organizing packet to select EE supporters across the state. Disseminate the news release to state media markets regarding the shortcomings in implementation of legislative and DPI EE requirements and the potential association of these shortcomings and the lack of environmental literacy in the K-12 students of Wisconsin. Organize editorial board, radio and television follow-up stories. Request interested parties to write letters of concern to school boards, individual school board members, school administrative staffs, and their local newspaper. Parents, teachers, environmental organizations, environmental education organizations, and community businesses are all potential interested parties. Letters should address specific concerns and encourage a review of the district’s EE curriculum and a discussion of the status of the curriculum at a school board meeting. * Encourage interested parties to attend and participate in the school board meeting that the EE curriculum and curriculum review is discussed. Encourage interested parties to present their views on the district’s EE curriculum at multiple school board meetings and at statewide events, such as the Wisconsin Association of School Boards annual conference.

o

o

o

o

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

93

o

Encourage your school board members and school administrative staffs to participate in EE professional development. Alert them of upcoming events, conferences, and courses. Possibly provide assistance with registration or otherwise coordinate their involvement. Highlight exemplary EE that is occurring in their district or nearby districts in the form of a letter, in person at a board meeting, or by providing them the opportunity to have a hands-on experience viewing the program in action. Coordinate student involvement in as many of the above strategies as feasible and age appropriate. Provide opportunities for students to write letters, present at board meetings, and invite school board members and school administrative staff to their classroom. Develop a follow-up plan to encourage continued discussion and implementation of decisions made at school board meetings. Future coordination, presentations, or letters will be needed.

o

o

o

GOAL # 2 To help elected/appointed officials understand the importance of EE and increase their support of EE programs. Objective 2A – Elected/appointed officials will support the assessment of environmental literacy in conjunction with the ongoing statewide student assessment programs administered by the DPI. Objective 2B – Elected/appointed officials will support the reinstatement of the EE Specialist position in the DPI. Objective 2C – Elected/appointed officials will specifically support the WEEB and its programs. Strategies for Targeting Elected/Appointed Officials A) Organizational Steps
o

Request WEEB support for annual environmental literacy assessment of Wisconsin students. The research project would: a) identify the existing state assessment questions that address the Wisconsin EE Standards, b) identify voids where the EE standards are not being assessed, c) develop valid and reliable questions to fill the voids, d) provide assistance to DPI in inserting the questions in appropriate on-going state assessments, and e) provide an annual environmental literacy assessment of Wisconsin students.

© IMPACS 2002

94

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

o

Develop a news release highlighting reasons why Wisconsin schools need an EE Specialist at the DPI. Reasons could include: since the EE Specialist position was eliminated, there has been no assessment of the EE curriculum requirement and there has been no EE outreach program available to schools for staff or curriculum development. Identify interested parties who are willing to become involved in efforts to communicate the need for an EE Specialist position and for assessment of environmental literacy among Wisconsin students. Develop an example letter to elected/appointed officials to be included in the organizing packet, requesting the reinstatement of the EE Specialist position in the DPI. Identify elected/appointed officials who will support the assessment of environmental literacy in conjunction with the current statewide student assessment conducted by the DPI.

o

o

o

B) Implementation Steps
o

Obtain the financial and political support of the WEEB for the development of an annual environmental literacy assessment of Wisconsin students. Distribute organizing packet to Summer EE Masters degree students and EE Liaison Teachers. Disseminate the news release regarding the lack of a DPI EE specialist to state media markets. Organize editorial board, radio, and television follow-up stories. Request EE Liaison Teachers and Summer EE Masters degree students to write letters of concern to the State Superintendent and other elected/appointed officials describing the importance of an EE Specialist at the DPI and the statewide assessment of EE literacy. * Request EE Liaison Teachers and Summer EE Masters degree students to solicit similar letter of support for an EE Specialist at the DPI from other teachers, school administrators and parents. *

o

o

o

o

GOAL # 3 To increase recognition and support for EE by members of the news media in Wisconsin.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

95

Objective 3A – Wisconsin radio, television and newspapers will increase the coverage of EE-related news and events. Objective 3B – A network of key media contacts across Wisconsin who are supportive of EE will be developed and maintained. Strategies for Targeting Members of the News Media in Wisconsin A) Organizational Steps
o

Identify the major media markets in Wisconsin. Determine if a network of media contacts that are supportive of environmental education exists in these markets. These contacts should be in varied media outlets (newspaper, radio, TV) across the state. If such a network does not exist, it should be developed through the assistance of state EE organizations and/or media consultants with ties in these major markets. Develop components of the organizing packet, including news releases, tips for writing news releases and advice for doing media coverage. * Collaborate with EE grants programs in the state (such as WEEB). As a stipulation of the grant award, grantees must send out news releases on their projects. Grantees should relate the key messages from the "EE Works for Wisconsin" promotional materials to their project. Leadership should be provided by WEEB in developing a media workshop for EE organizations/conferences. The workshop will stress the importance of media relationships, the different types of media, and how to get your project/event/center into the news.

o

o

o

B) Implementation Steps
o

Hold workshops for the staff and volunteers from environmental education centers and EE organizations at state conferences to educate EE supporters about gaining media coverage for their center/project. Encourage teachers and organizations to write news releases about events or projects that are being developed or implemented in their schools, EE centers or organizations. The news releases should include information pertaining to the key messages from the "EE Works for Wisconsin" program. * Encourage EE centers, EE organizations, and schools to maintain contact with media representatives in their major market area. EE centers, organizations, and schools should make sure that media

o

o

© IMPACS 2002

96

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

representatives in newspapers, radio and TV know of EE related events or projects occurring in their area. *
o

Request the Summer EE Master’s students, EE Liaisons, parent organizations and other teachers to write op-ed articles supporting EE for newspapers in their area. * Require WEEB grantees to write and send out news releases pertaining to their funded project. The news releases should relate the key EE messages for Wisconsin to the purpose of their project.

o

GOAL # 4 To increase support from parents and members of parent organizations for EE within their schools. Objective 4A- Parent organizations will increase financial support and volunteer time on behalf of EE programs in their schools. Objective 4B – The number of parents expressing support for EE programming to schoolteachers, administrators, and school board members will increase. Strategies for Targeting Parents and Members of Parent Organizations A) Organizational Steps
o

Identify the parent organizations for schools or school districts and the contact people for these organizations. Identify the manner that the parent organization can further EE. Some examples include: using profits raised from parent organization fundraisers to purchase EE materials or to fund residential or day visits to local environmental education/nature centers or providing parent volunteers as chaperones on EE field trips or assisting teachers in the classroom with EE activities. Develop components of the organizing packet including: * Laws governing EE curriculum implementation The current level of EE curriculum implementation Statistics on parental support for EE
o

o

o

An example letter to request support from parent organizations for EE. The promotional material "EE Works for Wisconsin" should be included.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

97

B) Implementation Steps
o

Alert environmental educators, specifically those individuals receiving the organizing packet, as to the benefits of parental support. Encourage environmental educators, EE centers/organizations, teachers and parents to write letters and/or give presentations to parent organizations describing ways parent organizations can be involved in supporting EE programs at their school. * Encourage formal and nonformal environmental educators to request support from parent organizations for specific upcoming programs, activities, and events. * Encourage organizations to write new releases supporting and describing the benefits of EE with the target audience of these releases being parents and parent organizations. *

o

o

o

GOAL # 5 To improve the implementation of Wisconsin’s existing EE teacher training requirement at universities and colleges. Objective 5A – The EE Specialist position will be reinstated at the DPI. Objective 5B – The DPI will evaluate the implementation of the EE teacher training requirement at universities and colleges. Strategies for Targeting Wisconsin’s Universities and Colleges A) Organizational Steps
o

Identify teachers who have graduated from teacher training programs in Wisconsin and are interested in becoming involved in efforts to communicate the need to evaluate the EE teacher training requirement in Wisconsin universities and colleges. Develop a news release for appropriate newsletters (WAEE, PTA/PTO environmental and business newsletters, etc.) and targeted mailings (WAEE members, etc.) describing the need for the reinstatement of the EE Specialist position at the DPI and a DPI evaluation of EE teacher training requirements at universities and colleges Identify interested parties who are willing to become involved in communicating the need for an EE Specialist at the DPI and DPI

o

o

© IMPACS 2002

98

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

evaluation of the implementation of the EE teacher training requirements at universities and colleges. B) Implementation Steps
o o

Disseminate the news release described above. Request interested parties to write letters of concern to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, to key members of the legislature and to their local newspaper. Request teachers to write "testimonials" of using EE in their classroom, the benefits of having an EE Specialist at the DPI, and the usefulness of pre-service and in-service training in EE. These letters can be submitted to local newspaper and environmental organizations/associations newsletters

o

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

99

Heart Health Partnership
Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Benefits Campaign Communication Plan: December 1999

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Heart Health Partnership(1) (HHP) consists of 18 organizations including non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community groups and is currently working in the Western Region of the province. The mission of the HHP is "to work with communities and individuals in discovering and using effective ways to improve the heart health of Nova Scotians." The Heart Health Partnership has been working toward enhancing an infrastructure for health promotion at the community level (through existing structures), which will ultimately lead to improved cardiovascular health outcomes at the community level. The Partnership will demonstrate how to work with intersectoral partnerships to build skills, knowledge, and abilities to mobilize communities to improve overall health and wellness. Catalyzed by Heart Health Nova Scotia (HHNS), a cardiovascular disease prevention program, the HHP will act as model for other organizations, governments, and policy-makers concerned with improving the health of populations through preventive strategies. Research has shown that health promotion and disease prevention initiatives are effective and can help to reduce factors that lead to ill health (such as smoking, high fat diets, not being physically active, and high blood pressure). However, in order for these initiatives to be effective, resources (both human and financial) need to be allocated and policy decisions that will support these efforts need development. The Heart Health Partnership is part of an international initiative, which involves 27 countries from Europe and Latin America, whose aim is to reduce risk factors that lead to chronic diseases. This program has been extremely successful in countries like Finland, where there is strong political leadership for reformation and improvements in the health system through promotion and prevention. Since the inception of this initiative in Finland in 1972, there has been a 72% decline in cardiovascular disease. This effort has also realized improvements in reduced cancer rates. Governments have a large role to play in mobilizing existing community structures, which enhances a community's capacity to take control of their own health. Resources and policies need to be in place to sustain this effort in the long-term. The current Nova Scotia government has made a commitment to doing this and has launched an ambitious health system restructuring plan. As health promoters we want to ensure that the government is successful in doing this and that a balance is struck between acute care, health promotion and prevention initiatives. Individual and collective concerns need to be expressed so that the development of the provincial health policy reflects a broad definition of
© IMPACS 2002

100

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

health care that includes health promotion and disease prevention as essential parts of creating a healthier Nova Scotia. The Heart Health Partnership met to discuss strategies and key concerns facing the health sector as it relates to health promotion and chronic disease prevention. The following is a summary of the issues and the strategies the group feels need to be acted on in the upcoming months. The time to participate is now. The Government will be making key decisions on the structure of the Province's health care programs over the next two months. Stakeholders know that the time is right to become involved so that they can help communities and the Government develop a plan that will meet the health concerns of Nova Scotians.
1. These partners include: Adult Education Section, Department of Education and Culture; Annapolis Valley Regional School Board; Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division; Community Links; Family Studies Teachers Association; Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; Heart Health Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia Department of Health; Nova Scotia Dietetics Association; Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations; Nova Scotia Home Economics Association; Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission; Provincial Library, Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture; Public Health Service, Western Regional Health Board; School of Nutrition and Food Science, Acadia University; Southwest Regional School Board; Western Regional Health Board; Women's Institute of Nova Scotia.

ORGANIZATIONAL GOAL: To ensure communities in Nova Scotia and the government succeed in building a responsive, outcome-based and efficient health care system by investing in wellness, health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives.

COMMUNICATION OBJECTIVES:
• •

To present in clear and simple language the economic and social benefits of investing in health promotion/wellness/disease prevention programs To link the benefits of health promotion initiatives with health partner's success stories (although this campaign is coordinated by Heart Health, the testimonials from other health based organizations will lend credibility and strength to the overall goal) To have the Nova Scotia Government take concrete steps to invest in health promotion and chronic disease prevention including allocating adequate resources in the February 2000 budget To have the Nova Scotia Government create infrastructure and processes necessary to enable healthy public policy and intersectoral decision making To encourage and support the Heart Health Partnership organizations to take individual and collective action to support health promotion and

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

101

chronic disease prevention at various levels of government review and priority setting

TARGET AUDIENCES (Primary):
• • • • • • • • •

Government Staff: Ministers, Department of Health/Economic Development/Finance, Deputies: i.e., R.L 'Esperance, P. Ripley, Ward Community Health Board Members Public Health - regional and provincial Health Council Media The Voluntary Planning Fiscal Management Task Force (VPFMTF) MLAs Supporters: community Heart Health groups and others who deliver health promotion programs; i.e., Women's Centre Provincial Health Council Members and Executive Director - J. Dow

KEY MESSAGES:
• • • •

Health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives are essential elements of the health system infrastructure Investments in health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives are cost effective Health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives result in positive health outcomes and improve overall quality of life A modern health care system needs to be balanced with investments in health as well as illness. Investment in health promotion and chronic disease prevention will provide this balance Health and wellness promotion and chronic disease prevention benefits society as a whole — long-term and short-term Health promotion partners want to be a part of the process that helps the Government implement the health initiatives outlined in the Blue Book Health promotion initiatives support and encourage individuals and communities to take control of their own health Through the development of community health plans and other public consultations, citizens of Nova Scotia have expressed a need to mobilize their communities to take charge of their health. Government, policy,

• • • •

© IMPACS 2002

102

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

intersectoral partnerships, resources, and infrastructure will enable communities to achieve this need

Health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives will reduce the demand for costly medical interventions

CAMPAIGN TIME LINES: Phase 1: November 26 - December 22, 1999 Window of Opportunity: Much of what will become public policy for health care will be developed in the next six weeks. The Heart Health Partnership and others see this time frame as the window of opportunity for the next four years to move the benefits of health promotion and partnership programs forward. Phase 2: December 22, 1999 - January 15, 2000 Critical Time Period - Pre-Budget: This time frame provides additional time to reinforce the key messages communicated in Phase 1. This is a critical time period as the Government will be presenting the provincial budget in early February 2000. Phase 3: January 15, 2000, - March 31, 2001 Keeping Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Benefits Front and Centre: Funding for The Heart Health Partnership expires on March 31, 2001. Any and all opportunities to promote the program, its accomplishments and results should be maximized.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

103

ACTION LIST: Action Deadline Responsibility
Meet with the Heart Health Partnership to discuss the needs and the goal for a public education initiative. Address key issues and strategies November 24 Michelle, Heart Health Partnership Develop a Communication Plan for the Health Promotion Partnership Campaign December 2 Michelle, Heart Health Partnership Distribute Comm. Plan to Health Partners December 9 Heart Health Nova Scotia Develop Fact Sheet/Question and Answer: A Pie Chart graph which outlines where the health care dollars go could be beneficial to the case December 9 Michelle and Heart Health NS Develop ways to promote the cause December 9 Michelle Develop cover letter for MLAs December 9 Michelle Develop media strategy plan December 13 Michelle and Heart Health NS Media: Connect with all media contacts that December 7-10 Michelle and Heart Health NS heart health partners have association with

Inform MLAs of the benefits of health promotion programs: include cover letter, fact sheet - i.e.; Neil Leblanc, Jamie Muir, Dr. Hamm December 22 and beyond Heart Health Partnership Encourage supporters/Heart Health staff to submit an editorial on the benefits of health promotion reinforce economic indicators and link them to benefits December 22 and beyond Heart Health Partnership Share listing of MLAs with health partners (website address as well) encourage them to connect with their representative personally December 9

© IMPACS 2002

104

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Heart Health NS Encourage Heart Health Partners to promote health promotion in all of their internal and communication vehicles: Faxes, newsletters, Christmas cards December 9 and beyond Heart Health Partnership Develop a health promotion stamp and distribute it to health partner organizations December 9 Heart Health Partnership Draft a resolution that promotes the aims and goals of health promotion. Declare January Health Promotion Month - have Premier endorse a proclamation Phase 11, after December 22 Heart Health Partnership Upload all campaign materials to Heart sites to it December 9 Heart Health NS Health website and encourage health partners to link their external

Develop and distribute evaluation pieces: i.e., a "How did it Go"? form and activity support summary Phase 11, after December 22 and beyond Heart Health NS

EVALUATION SUMMARY: After the campaign has concluded a formal evaluation with the Heart Health Partnership will be conducted. Data, which should include an evaluation form and an activity sheet from each of the health partners will assist in assessing the success of this initiative. Media tracking measurements should be obtained so that a true and accurate reflection of PSA/Print/Interview/Broadcast coverage is presented. The following evaluation indicators have been established which will provide a benchmark for the success of this Campaign: Government takes concrete steps to ensure health promotion and chronic disease prevention remain a priority (including no significant reduction in funding and support for health promotion programs and infrastructure). Involvement and support in the Heart Health Partnership's Communication Plan from the Heart Health Partners. Gain Media coverage for the this public education initiative.
© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

105

© IMPACS 2002

106

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
Communication Strategy Overview: March 17, 1998
Note: this Communication Strategy Overview is a summary of a communication plan that is over 100 pages long. The full plan can be found at the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign website: http://www.mediacampaign.org/publications/integr_plan/contents.html

Campaign Goal

To educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs. This includes preventing the initiation of drug use and encouraging occasional users to discontinue use.

Target Audiences 1. Youth ages 9 to 18, segmented by:
o

School level: Primary focus on middle school age adolescents (approximately ages 11 to 13). School level: Secondary focus on high school age youth (approximately ages 14 to18) and late elementary school age adolescents (approximately ages 9 to 11). Risk status: Primary focus on at-risk non-users and occasional users of drugs.

o

o

And with consideration, as appropriate, of: o Gender differences.
o o

Racial and ethnic differences. Differences based on region and population density (i.e., urban, suburban and rural areas).

2. Parents and other primary caregivers of children ages 9 to 18, segmented by:
o

Age of children: Primary focus on parents/caregivers of middle school age adolescents. Secondary focus on parents/caregivers of high school age youth (approximately 14-18 years) and late elementary school age adolescents (approximately 9-11 years).

o

And with consideration, as appropriate, of: o Racial and ethnic differences. o The special concerns of current and former substance users.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

107

3. Other youth-influential adults
o

e.g., other adult family members, teachers, principals, coaches, faith community members, youth group leaders, mentors, health care providers, celebrities.

Communication Objectives for Youth Audiences 1. Instill the belief that most young people do not use drugs. 2. Enhance perceptions that using (specific) drugs is likely to lead to a variety of negatively valued consequences:
o

Social consequences (e.g., looking "uncool" or having other negative social qualities, alienating friends, incurring disapproval of peers, losing trust of parents and siblings, having a negative influence on younger siblings). Psychological consequences (e.g., reduced ability to concentrate, feeling lazy and unmotivated, "losing control," making bad decisions). Aspirational consequences (e.g., losing driving privileges/license, losing other privileges granted by parents, failure to get good grades or to graduate, losing a job or not being hired for a job) Physical consequences (e.g., loss of stamina or peak performance ability, weight gain, addiction, death).

o

o

o

3. Enhance perceptions that a drug-free lifestyle is more likely to lead to a variety of positively valued consequences:
o

Social consequences (e.g., being "cool" and socially attractive, gaining peer approval and respect, forming deeper friendships, building trust of parents, being a role model for younger siblings). Physical consequences (e.g., enhanced physical performance). Aspirational consequences (e.g., gaining increasing control over one's life, having a positive self-image, achieving excellence, reaching one's goals).

o o

4. Enhance personal and social skills that promote resistance to drug use and positive lifestyle choices. These include decision-making skills, problem-solving skills, adaptive and coping skills, resistance to persuasive influences (e.g., critical viewing skills/media literacy), and general social and assertiveness skills. 5. Reinforce positive uses of time (as behavioral alternatives to drug use).

© IMPACS 2002

108

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Communication Objectives for Parent/Primary Caregiver Audiences 1. Enhance perceptions of harm associated with adolescent use of marijuana and inhalants. 2. Make parents aware that their children are at risk for using drugs and are vulnerable to the negative consequences of drug use. 3. Enhance perceptions of personal efficacy to prevent adolescent drug use (i.e., let parents know that their actions can make a difference). 4. Convey simple, effective parenting skills, including communication and family management skills, that are known to help prevent adolescent drug use. Communication skills include:
o

Discuss what the adolescent did each day after school and praise appropriate activities. Establish and clearly communicate drug non-use expectations. Use anti-drug media campaign messages (e.g., televised advertisements) as a catalyst for discussion and message reinforcement. Provide positive reinforcement when the adolescent initiates communication about drugs.

o o

o

Family management skills include:
o

Establish specific routines focused on the situations most likely to lead to substance use, particularly after-school hours. Specifically, ensure that adolescents are usually occupied during after-school hours by requiring that their homework be done or that they participate in adult-supervised recreational activities. Stay involved in and actively monitor the adolescent's activities (e.g., know his or her friends and the parents of the friends, and communicate with those parents to stay better informed of the adolescent's activities). Establish rules that decrease the likelihood of the adolescent being in situations that are conducive to drug use. Specifically, prohibit the adolescent from spending time with friends in anyone's home when there are no adults present, and discourage or prohibit any unsupervised association with other adolescents who use drugs. Establish and consistently apply a curfew and have rules regarding keeping a parent informed of whereabouts at all times.

o

o

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

109

o

Encourage compliance with these rules by consistently applying mild negative consequences for infractions.

5. Encourage specific community-focused actions:
o

Inquire about, and insist, that an effective anti-drug program be implemented at the adolescent's school. Take action to support community anti-drug activities.

o

6. Encourage parents who use psycho-active substances to consider the effects of their own substance use on their adolescents and other children. Communication Objectives for Other Youth-Influential Adults 1. Enhance perceptions of harm associated with use of marijuana and inhalants. 2. Enhance perceptions of personal efficacy to prevent drug use (i.e., let youth-influential adults know that their actions can make a difference). 3. Encourage specific individually-focused and community-focused actions to facilitate adolescent drug use prevention:
o

Communicate to youth the harmful (social, physical, and aspirational) consequences of using specific drugs. Communicate to parents the need to take specific actions to prevent youth drug use. (See parent audience communication objectives.) Advocate for effective anti-drug programs in schools and communities. Take action to support community anti-drug activities.

o

o

o

Proposed Allocation of Campaign Resources Youth audiences: Middle school Late elementary school High school Sub-total Parent/caregiver audience Other youth-influential adults Sub-total 25% 12.5% 12.5% 50% 40% 10% 50%

Strategic Campaign Design Principles

© IMPACS 2002

110

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

Because family-focused prevention efforts have a greater impact than efforts focused only on youth or parents and primary caregivers, the campaign should target both audiences. Moreover, the communication objectives for youth and parent/caregiver audiences should be complimentary and synergistic. The campaign messages must reinforce prevention messages delivered in other settings including schools, community organizations, and homes, and be linked to existing prevention resources in communities. This can be accomplished, in part, by developing a communication strategy based on approaches that have been proven effective and are accepted in these settings. It can be further accomplished by encouraging community organizations, professional groups, and government agencies to incorporate the communication strategy into their new and on-going programs. To achieve the maximum effect, the campaign should use a full range of media mechanisms and formats in an integrated fashion and in a manner consistent with the communication strategy. To ensure effectiveness, all message executions should be pre-tested with diverse members of the target audience before final distribution. Moreover, where there is cause to think that messages targeted to a particular audience group can produce unintended negative consequences among other audiences, messages should also be tested with non-target audience members. The campaign must be sustained for a sufficient period of time in order to bring about a measurable change in the beliefs and behaviors of the target audiences. The central messages of the campaign should be repeated often and in a variety of ways. Repetition is important to enhance exposure and availability; variety is important to capture the range of perspectives among audience members, and so that the message will not be perceived as annoying or "stale." Messages for both youth and parent/caregiver audiences should focus in large measure on common transitions (e.g., the transition from elementary school to middle school) and situations (e.g., when large amounts of time are spent in settings unsupervised by a responsible adult) that are known to heighten adolescents' vulnerability to drug use initiation. The communication objectives for the campaign should focus on altering those mediating variables (including knowledge, beliefs and behaviors) that are known to have a significant impact on adolescent drug use.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

111

The campaign should feature strong integrating elements to build "brand identity" in the minds of target audience members. Integrating features may include a campaign name and a logo or other graphical icon. These integrating or "branding" features can effectively position campaign messages as credible and important; in time, the "branding" features themselves can convey an anti-drug message. Message executions should be informed by insights from audience research, behavioral science, and the expertise of communication professionals with experience in communicating successfully to the target audience.

Message Execution Considerations Pertinent to All Audiences

Messages should be tailored to match the age and the social and psychographic profile of the target audience. As far as possible, however, messages should be designed to be sensitive to the sensibilities of different audience groups so that they have wider appeal and applicability. The more audience members can be engaged to actually think about the message (including imagined or actual rehearsal of the recommended behavior), the more likely they are to experience appropriate changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.33 Characteristics of message executions that encourage active attention include unusual, unfamiliar and novel presentations of the information, presentations in discrepant or unexpected contexts, and specific cues requesting audience members to attend to the information. Clearly demonstrating peers modeling performances of the recommended behaviors and/or experiencing the (negative or positive) consequences of these actions is one of the most effective means of enhancing viewers' skills, confidence to use those skills, perceptions of consequences, and motivations. Fear appeals can be effective, but only in combination with messages that heighten viewers' feeling of vulnerability to the threat and offer them a solution that is easy and effective.

Message Execution Considerations for Youth Audiences

Messages produced with high "sensation value" are more effective in attracting the attention and interest of youth in the target audiences. High "sensation value" production qualities include novelty, complexity, intensity, ambiguity, unconventionality, suspense, fast pace, and emotionality. However, message properties such as ambiguity and rapid pacing can inhibit comprehension of message content, particularly with younger children. Thus, the use of these elements should be tempered by consideration of the age and cognitive capacities of the target audience.

© IMPACS 2002

112

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

The use of peer models, especially socially attractive peer models, is an excellent means gaining the attention and interest of youth audience members. The attributes of socially attractive peer models include good looks, a sense of humor, an outgoing personality, having many friends (including older friends), and being popular with members of the opposite sex, getting good grades, liking "cool music," and being good at sports and video games. However, the peer models used in messages should not be overly attractive "models" that the average teenager cannot identify with. Young people tend to pattern their expectations and behaviors based on what they observe among slightly older peers (i.e., students one or several grades ahead). To take advantage of this "looking up" phenomenon, messages that use peer modeling should feature young people who are a few years older that than members of the intended target audience. Peer togetherness is highly valued by young people. Conversely, separateness and being different are perceived as negatives. Themes of togetherness may be an effective means of communicating the positive social consequences of drug non-use, and themes of loneliness a means of communicating the negative consequences of use. Although teenagers want to "belong" and "fit in" they don't want to be like everyone else. Teenagers are striving to carve out a unique identity for themselves, and like to think that they are independent thinkers who have reached their own conclusions. Thus, advertisements that place the facts before them without explicitly exhorting them to subscribe to the message are likely to be well received. Similarly, advertisements that present and market a certain image without explicitly stating the desirability or undesirability of that image are likely to have a better impact than those that are too obvious. Audience research suggests the following "rules" for teen advertising: be funny; be honest; be clear; be original; use music that audience members really like; say or show an important benefit of the product; don't talk down; don't try too hard to be cool; and feature people who are about the same age as the intended audience. Messages should use language that is familiar to adolescents of that age group. However, there are large variations in slang among subgroups of teens, so that using anything but the most basic "teenspeak" can backfire and be perceived as inappropriate. Also, teen slang should only come from the mouth of teens. Any adult efforts to appropriate teen terminology may be seen as condescending or ridiculous. Given the need for universal messages and the multicultural perspective of youth culture, where possible, messages should feature youth with diverse ethnic backgrounds.

© IMPACS 2002

Plan the Work: Strategic Communication Planning Handbook

113

Message Execution Considerations for Adult Audiences

Although risk analogies can be useful (i.e., explaining a poorly understood risk by comparing it to another more commonly understood risk), such comparisons must be done with caution. The two risks compared should have certain qualities in common, otherwise audience members are likely to reject both the risk comparison and the message. People often have difficulty understanding quantitative expressions of risk (e.g., "a one in three chance"), yet qualitative expressions of risk (e.g., "many") are understood in vastly different ways by different people. Messages that attempt to convey risk information should, when possible, use both quantitative and qualitative expressions to increase audience comprehension. People underestimate the cumulative probability that an event will occur (e.g., the odds of wrecking a car by the time you are 18 if you drive under the influence several times per year), even if they correctly understand the odds that the event will occur on any one occasion. Expressing cumulative probabilities can be an effective means of enhancing the perceived relevance of a risk. People are in varying stages of readiness to adopt the recommended behaviors. Messages intended for people who are not yet ready to adopt the behavior should focus mostly on enhancing the perceived relevance of the recommendations, and enhancing audience member's confidence in their ability to enact the recommendations. Messages intended for people who are ready to act should focus more on the skills and other information necessary to effectively perform the recommended behaviors.

© IMPACS 2002

INSTITUTE for MEDIA, POLICY and CIVIL SOCIETY

207 West Hastings Street, Suite 910 Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 Phone: 604.682.1953 Toll-free: 877.232.0122 Fax: 604.682.4353 Email: Web: media@impacs.org www.impacs.org

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful