Increasing Stakeholder Engagement through Strategic Communication


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Presentation given at the NCCEP/GEAR UP National Conference in San Francisco July, 2013. Includes content on strategic communications and communication planning.

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  • Presentation – DB
  • Presentation - DBThe purpose of this session is to help new and experienced GEAR UP professionals tasked with communication activities, to develop a failsafe strategy and an easy-to-execute plan.  With these two tools, attendees will be empowered to strengthen their stakeholder engagement (internal and external) through improved, well though-out communications strategies.  The content will include a step-by-step process on how to develop a communications strategy, as well as a list of “jump off” points to get attendees thinking about specific content and messaging.  During the session, attendees will also receive worksheets to help plan and implement their strategies.  While note required, the use of portable computer devices (tablets, laptops, other mobile devices, etc.) will enhance attendees’ active learning experience.
  • Presentation – DBWhy are you here exercise. Who are you looking to communicate with?Partners, Students, Parents, Decision Makers (aka Member of Congress), Staff/Teachers
  • Presenter: DBBut we call them students, families, teachers, volunteers, partners & potential partners, and the most dreaded duo: Members of Congress and the media.Or at least not against us.The greater good: We do things that benefit students and families directly, but we also change schools, increase graduation rates, create a more skilled workforce, etc.Who wouldn’t want to help us? We’re awesome!Think about how hard it is to get up and go to the gym or even change a burnt-out light bulb. We all need help in the motivation department.
  • Presentation - DB
  • Message: GEAR UP works by supporting underserved youth to enter and succeed in college and beyond…SB means infusing communications efforts with an agenda and a master plan. Typically, that master plan involves promoting the brand of an organization, urging people to do specific actions, or advocating particular legislation. It can refer to both a process, and to a specific job title.Simplified Communications Plan responds to:Who? (Audience)What? (Type of content) - Concrete examplesWhen? (How often)How? (???)Samples of how communications can be used (10 min.)Advocacy Funding opportunitiesPartnership opportunitiesOther engagementSocial Media
  • SBWhy strategic communications?Consistency and coordination: ensuring programmatic collaboration and cohesion. New methods of outreach: social mediaProfessionalism: clip art and sporadic emails don’t cut it anymore. Integrating communications into a master plan:It’s strategic…Accomplish specific, concrete goalsProgram plan should have communications mirror
  • SBWho? (identify audience)Students? Families? MoC? Teachers? Internal vs. External audienceWhat? (what is your message)Messages are preplanned and developed for each audience. “GEAR UP is local, sustainable, and proven to increase college readiness in communities of need.”“California GEAR UP Bridge Project cohort increased Algebra completion rates by 34%.”“GEAR UP mentoring is for ALL students and increases college completion rates by 50%.”SBIdentify the audience FOR your message. You can tailor a similar version of the same message for different audiences.Simplified Communications Plan responds to:Who? (Audience)What? (Type of content) - Concrete examplesWhen? (How often)How? (???)
  • You will have multiple audiences
  • SB
  • SBThe specific message for each audience is the intersection between what YOU know (your program, your students, your community) & what your AUDIENCE needs to know (how the program works, who your students are, how GEAR UP changes communities, etc.)
  • SBMessages are preplanned and developed for each audience. You won’t deliver the same message to a MoC as you would to a local reporter, a potential partner, or the local PTA.
  • AETake two minutes to jot down a quick mind map of some potential content topics. Content can be blog post, newsletter item, facebook post, event recap, etc.
  • SB-Daily: tweets -Weekly: Facebook -Quarterly: newsletter -Annual: Reports -Event driven: as scheduled -Call to action: MoC, local issues
  • AE
  • AE
  • The five steps involved in creating a communications plan are: (1) establishing goals; (2) defining key audiences; (3) identifying key messages; (4) creating a tactical outreach plan; and (5) specifying a timeline for moving forward. A communication plan shouldfocus on the communication activities that you will complete during a specific time periodidentify the main messagesidentify the audiences to whom you will tell your messagedetail how you will use many communication outlets to tell your storyidentify the types of questions you will facedevelop consistent, truthful answers
  • Developing a strategic communications plan will help you make the most of your resources by establishing priorities and focusing on the most important tasks. Expect to learn a lot in developing your communication plan: you will clarify your objectives and zero in on your target audience. Furthermore, a solid communications plan will help ensure that everyone involved in your initiative is “on the same page” when they are communicating about the project with the rest of the world.
  • If the what it is and what you include seem daunting, start with a finite project instead of your entire program. Example: Nat’l GEAR UP WeekI didn’t have space on the slide for the message column, but we all know the message is that GEAR UP is amazing, so I figured it was OK to skip that one.
  • Increasing Stakeholder Engagement through Strategic Communication

    1. 1. Increasing Stakeholder Engagement Through Strategic Communications Convener: Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, Associate Director, Government Relations, NCCEP Presenters: Sean K. Brennan, Communications, California GEAR UP Alison Eldridge, Communication Specialist, Washington State GEAR UP 1 2013NCCE/GEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    2. 2. Agenda • Why? • The Toolset: • Communications Strategy (aka “A failsafe strategy”) • Step-by-step • Starting Points • Communications Plan (aka “An easy-to-execute plan”) • The Worksheets • The Q&A 2 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    3. 3. Questions • With whom should you communicate (Audience)? • What to communicate (Message)? • How to create Content (and then some)? • When to communicate (Timing)? • What methods of communication to use (Delivery)? 3 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    4. 4. THE WHY 7/16/20132013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference 4
    5. 5. Why do we need to communicate? 1. We have customers, just like a business. 2. They need to be persuaded to work with us. 3. They need to understand the benefits of what we do. 4. They need to know how they can help us do it more effectively. 5. They need to be motivated to do it. 5 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    6. 6. The Toolset •Who (Audience) •What (Message) •Where (Delivery) A Failsafe Strategy •When (Timing) •How (Content) Easy to Execute Plan 6 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    7. 7. COMMUNICATION STRATEGY: THEORY & OVERVIEW 7/16/20132013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference 7
    8. 8. A Failsafe Strategy Why strategic communications? • Consistency and coordination: ensuring programmatic collaboration and cohesion. • New methods of outreach: social media. • Professionalism: clip art and sporadic emails don’t cut it anymore. Integrating communications into a master plan: • It’s strategic… • Accomplish specific, concrete goals. • Program plan should have communications mirror. 8 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    9. 9. Who - Identify Your Audience • Are they an internal or external audience? • Are they… • Students? • Families? • Teachers? • Media? • Congress? 9 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    10. 10. Yourprogramwillhavemultipleaudiences,but… 10 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    11. 11. Youcan’tcommunicatewithallofthemallofthetime. 11 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    12. 12. What We Know What the Audience Needs to Know THE MESSAGE 12 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013 What Do They Need to Know?
    13. 13. “GEAR UP is local, sustainable, and proven to increase college readiness in communities of need.” “California GEAR UP Bridge Project cohort increased Algebra completion rates by 34%.” “GEAR UP mentoring is for ALL students and increases college completion rates by 50%.” 13 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013 What - Identify Your Message
    14. 14. Content - •Print publications •Online communications •Media and public relations materials •Certificates and awards •Annual reports •Speeches 14 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    15. 15. Content - Topic Brainstorm GEAR UP Graduation Rates Tutoring College Visits College Completion Professional Development Mentoring Family Engagement 15 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    16. 16. When - The Calendar 16 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013 Tweets (daily) Facebook (weekly) Reports (annual) Event-Driven (as scheduled) Newsletter (quarterly) Calls to Action (as needed)
    17. 17. Donuts, delivered. 17 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    18. 18. Delivery - But How? • Tumblr • Wordpress • Blogger • Posterous Blogs • Twitter • Facebook • LinkedIn • Pinterest Social • Mail Chimp • Constant Contact • Campaign Monitor • Community Partners’ Newsletters Newsletters 18 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    19. 19. COMMUNICATIONPLAN: THEORY & OVERVIEW 7/16/20132013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference 19
    20. 20. What is a Communication Plan? 20 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013 A communication plan is a road map for getting your message across to your audience.
    21. 21. The 5-Step Communication Plan The 5- Step Plan Audience Message Content (creation) Timing Delivery 21 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    22. 22. Why Bother? It makes your life easier. Provides Clarity Sets Priorities Gains Support Prevents Confusion 22 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    23. 23. National GEAR UP Week Plan Audiences Message Content Delivery Timing Next Steps… General public, media, legislators. GEAR UP has broad support Proclamatio n from Governor. Press release, newsletter item. By 8/15/13 Director to ask Gov’s office. Senators, Members of Congress, & their staffs. GEAR UP changes lives Students send advocacy postcards to legislators. Postcards, Facebook post. Have students send copies to media? By 9/15/13 Staff design postcard. Print & distribute to schools. Students, teachers, families. GEAR UP changes communities Message for students & teachers from Gov. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr. By 9/1/13 Director to ask Gov’s office. Provide fact sheet. Media, general public. GEAR UP works Op-Eds in local papers. Op-ed template, fact sheets, email list. By 9/15/13 Staff draft template/fact sheet. Provide to schools, partners. 23 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    24. 24. Worksheet Simple Communication Plan 24 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    25. 25. Resources 25 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013
    26. 26. Tell Us What You’re Doing! • Daniel Bremer-Wirtig at • Sean Brennan at • Alison Eldridge at 26 2013NCCEPGEARUPNationalConference7/16/2013