COMMUNICATING THE WAY FORWARD
Strategic Communications Plan
Prepared for: The Village of Vibank
Prepared by: Brennen Schmidt
Submitted: November 27, 2013
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 2
This report was commissioned to examine and identify the issues surrounding
event attendance, volunteerism and fundraising in the community of Vibank.
The report investigates the source of the situational and environmental factors
that have led to the various issues that the members of the Vibank community,
and respective community groups, are currently being faced with.
Based on the situational and environmental analysis of the community’s
communications, the report finds that the Village of Vibank has several problems
associated with communicating with its citizens, individual community group
members and the surrounding rural community at large. This lack of
communication has led to several issues for the community as a whole,
A sense of frustration, and a lack of cooperation amongst community
A lack of volunteerism from community members;
Sub-par event attendance by community members; and
The compartmentalization of fundraising dollars between community
Based on some of the main issues identified above, this report recommends that
the Village of Vibank implement and execute a variety of creative and effective
ways to include all members of the Vibank community, and surrounding area,
toward achieving common goals that all members of the community can benefit
Recommendations as to how the Village of Vibank can begin to implement and
execute a community-wide communications strategy include:
Creating a community group-led Steering Committee which will work
toward improving, developing and hosting community events;
Establishing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive
objectives which support more wide-ranging goals that will benefit the
community at large;
Utilizing a series of public relations tools and tactics to successfully
execute a community-wide communications campaign from which all
members of the Vibank community can benefit from.
Choosing a holistic approach at eliciting feedback and recommendations from
the community at large will not only help the Village of Vibank weaken opposition
and frustration; it will help the community’s vibrancy and spirit survive both now,
and well into the future.
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 3
The Village of Vibank has been experiencing record growth over the past few
years. Though this growth has led to significant advantages for the village in the
form of a broader tax base and more students attending Vibank Regional School,
the question still remains as to how the village can help keep the community’s
growth and vibrancy moving forward.
COMMUNICATIONS NEED: To work with the community as a whole to
formulate a strategic plan that will increase communication among community
groups – in order to increase community spirit in the form of event attendance,
volunteerism and fundraising.
The Village of Vibank is experiencing growth at a record pace. In addition to the
multimillion-dollar construction and renovations at Vibank Regional School, the
village is also growing in size, thanks in large part to the new housing
development on the northwest end of the village, and the completion of the
village’s new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant. While this amount of growth
has led to a variety of benefits, including a larger tax base, better drinking water
and the retention and attraction of young families in the community, this level of
growth has led to several challenges for the village. One of these challenges, of
course, is keeping the community’s vibrancy and community spirit alive.
Though several community groups have been hosting a series of events each
year, what can only be described as a fragmentation in communication has led to
a series of issues for the community, including:
Booking competing community events on the same weekday, or weekend;
A human resource deficit in the form of volunteerism at events, and for
Several special interest group-focused goals that have been formulated (in
whole, and in part) that could be better applied in a broader context to
benefit the community as a whole; and
The compartmentalization of fundraising groups, which has diluted the
already limited amount of fundraising opportunities.
While the following points have identified some of the vulnerabilities associated
with the community groups, with respect to event planning and execution, it
should be noted that these issues stem, in part, from allocative inefficiencies and
the lack of a transparent and accessible strategic plan for the Vibank community.
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The main issue that the Village of Vibank is currently being faced with, as a result
of increased growth, is how to effectively communicate with residents and
community members about what the village plans to do both now, and into the
future. The main issue that the community is being faced with can only be
described as fragmentation, with respect to communication. Individual community
groups have a limited amount of volunteers, and each group is doing whatever it
can to reach individual fundraising goals and objectives. This fragmentation has
formed various ‘silos’ in the community; groups do not communicate with each
other, and the Village of Vibank Council does not and cannot effectively
communicate with these groups. Therefore, it would be advantageous for the
village to make it a priority to work toward eliminating these silos by bringing as
many community groups together at one table to formulate a community-wide
strategic plan that will outline what the village can do to help keep the
community’s growth and vibrancy moving forward, both now and into the future.
RESEARCH: A community meeting, hosted by the Vibank Community Group,
was held on November 7, 2013. Approximately 30 members from the Vibank
community, and surrounding area, attended the event. Members of the Village of
Vibank Council, including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, were also in attendance
at the event, and participated in the proceedings. The community meeting served
as a town-hall style meeting, which focused on identifying issues and formulating
The primary issue that the group identified was a lack of communication between
the community groups, as well as with the Village of Vibank Council. A secondary
issue that was identified was the fact that the community groups and the Village
of Vibank Council do not have measurable and time-sensitive goals for the
community; members from the group illustrated that a lack of measures and a
lack of the development of community-wide goals have led to fragmentation
between groups, and has left community funds to remain in individual savings,
instead of being used to make improvements to the community’s infrastructure.
Though this community meeting served as an excellent means of identifying the
areas that need improvement, one of the next steps that was identified by
community members was the development of a community-wide survey. This
survey should be distributed to individuals and community groups, so that the
Village of Vibank can identify the areas of greatest need, with respect to
developing volunteer recruitment goals, or fundraising tools and tactics to make
much-needed improvements to the community’s infrastructure.
The results of the survey would determine the next steps for the community, and
would utilize a holistic approach in seeking feedback and input from all tax-
paying citizens of the village, as well as rural members from the surrounding
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 5
Numerous community groups are in
existence, and have a long-standing
history with the community.
Community groups have been hosting
various events throughout the year.
Council’s openness to identifying issues
and formulating solutions.
The Village of Vibank website is updated
frequently, and features upcoming
community events on its calendar.
New community members are calling the
Village of Vibank, and surrounding area,
Vibank Regional School has a large
amount of students enrolled at the school.
Community groups do not effectively
communicate with each other; events are,
in most cases, booked during the same
week, or weekend.
The Village of Vibank does not have an
official online social media presence.
Community bulletin boards are not used to
advertise community events; private
advertisements are being posted.
Posters displayed on the community
bulletin board are not removed in a timely
Traditional communications via flyers,
posters and mail outs are still being used
to communicate events.
Youth are not represented on boards and
Community groups could invest in an
electronic bulletin board that would feature
Community groups could monetize an
electronic communications method to
recover the cost of the acquisition of the
electronic bulletin board.
The involvement of new community
members in volunteerism and event
Pooled financial resources from
community groups to invest in making
improvements to the village’s
Community groups could work together to
find ways to welcome new people to the
Partnerships with other villages in the
surrounding area (Sedley, Francis and
Establishing a working group with
surrounding communities and the RM of
Francis No. 127.
The dissolution of community groups, due
to a lack of board and community
The depletion of community group funds,
and a lack of investment in community
improvements and enhancements.
Students enrolled at Vibank Regional
School will not involve themselves with
events, due to a lack of representation
and community group opportunities.
Seniors moving out of the community,
bringing with them valuable non-
documented tacit knowledge and
The development, completion and
implementation of a communications
strategy could be dissolved, or not
implemented, after the next municipal
election in 2016.
New and existing members of community
groups moving away to larger centers.
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 6
VILLAGE OF VIBANK CITIZENS – Citizens, both new and old, of the Village of
Vibank play a key role in the development of a community-wide strategic plan.
They are a latent public because citizens of the Village of Vibank have been
provided with little information regarding the current state of the village, and have
not been provided with the motivation necessary to work toward a common goal.
Members of the Village of Vibank community have been provided little
information not only from the village, but also from individual community groups.
It is also important to note that members of this public have not typically been
involved with the formulation of community goals and objectives. Members of this
public are very interested in the affairs of the village not only because they are
taxpayers, but also because of the fact that recreation and community events are
important for attracting and retaining citizens and members of the greater
community. Citizens have been very active in the past, and at present, and have
demonstrated that they can, and will, lend a hand wherever they may when
called to do so. This was demonstrated during the planning and execution of the
Village of Vibank’s Centennial celebration; citizens volunteered, purchased
tickets and merchandise all because they wanted to support the greater goal of
hosting a successful, well-attended event for all members of the community to
enjoy and take part in.
RURAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS – Rural community members, much like
citizens of the Village of Vibank, are a key public in the development of a
community-wide strategic plan. After all, it was members of the rural community
who worked together with Village of Vibank citizens several years ago to
construct the facilities that the village, and various ad hoc community group
members and citizens, still utilize today. Like the citizens of the Village of Vibank,
they are a latent public because they have not been provided with a great deal of
information regarding the current state of the village, and the greater community.
Most importantly, however, this key public has not typically been involved in the
community planning process. The issue of a lack of involvement stems not only
from the issue of tax allocation; it also comes as a result of rural community
members relocating to larger centers to live, work and take part in recreation
activities, as now is the best time to involve these members of the greater Vibank
community; they have an interest in participating in events that help the greater
AD HOC COMMUNITY GROUP MEMBERS – Members of ad hoc community
groups are also considered to be an important key public in the formulation of a
community-wide strategic plan. Moreover, individual members of these groups
are considered to be single-issue publics, since they are a part of a particular
group or organization that pertains to their unique interests and motivations.
Though single issues drive the decisions of the individual members of this public,
getting these groups together at one table – in order to share human resources,
and potentially financial resources – would be advantageous for the Village of
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 7
Vibank. Ad hoc community group members bring a wide array of experience and
talent necessary to formulate a community-wide strategic plan. However, if these
individuals who make up these groups do not speak with other members of the
community, the feeling of frustration and anger toward other groups will continue.
It has been noted that while some community group members in this public
belong to several committees and groups at the same time, there is still a
disconnect in communication. This disconnect has led to frustration and anger
towards groups who have already scheduled an event to occur on the same
weekend, or week. This key public likes nothing more than organizing a
successful event using one of the two venues owned and operated by the village.
These groups utilize the Village of Vibank’s event spaces; therefore, it would be
advantageous to involve these group members in formulating ways to make the
very improvements that they need in order to continue hosting successful events
at the venues owned and operated by the village.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
GOAL #1 – Create a favourable relationship between the Village of Vibank
Council and the village’s community groups. [Relationship Management Goal]
1.1 To increase community awareness regarding the advantages of forming
a volunteer-based steering committee, comprised of various members
of the community, which will work with the Village of Vibank Council (65
per cent of community members within six months). [Awareness]
1.2 To have an effect on the acceptance of Village of Vibank Council
members; specifically to gain their interest in the formation of an official
steering committee comprised of representatives from various
community groups (4 Councillors and the Mayor within a three month
1.3 To have an effect on the action of community representatives;
specifically to have community members to join the newly developed
steering committee (10 committee members within the month following
the approval of the new steering committee by the Village of Vibank
GOAL #2 – Increase public support for community-developed goals. [Task
2.1 To have an effect on the awareness of community members from the
Village of Vibank, and surrounding area; specifically to increase their
understanding of the advantages associated with developing a
community-centred strategic plan (65 per cent of community members
within six months). [Awareness]
2.2 To have an effect on the acceptance of community members from the
Village of Vibank, and surround area; specifically to increase positive
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 8
attitudes toward supporting community events and fundraising activities
(75 per cent of community members within 12 months). [Acceptance]
2.3 To have an effect on the action of community members in the Village of
Vibank, and surrounding area; specifically to obtain an increase in
volunteers in the community (25 per cent increase within 12 months).
1. When our community works together, everyone beneﬁts, and great things
can be accomplished within our community.
2. Working with the entire community will allow the Village of Vibank to
formulate a strategic plan that will establish goals that our community as a
whole can work toward achieving.
3. Future decisions made by the Village of Vibank Council will be made
based on the strategic plan that was developed by the community.
IMPLEMENTATION (TOOLS & TACTICS)
1. OPEN COMMUNITY FORUM
The first step for the Village of Vibank to demonstrate its commitment to
involving the entire community in formulating a strategic plan is to start a
conversation. Nothing starts a conversation better than a well-planned and
executed open forum aimed at attracting all members of the village, and
surrounding area, to start a discussion surrounding the future of the
community as a whole. All members of the Village of Vibank Council should
be present at the event, and should make themselves available to answer
questions from the members present at the meeting. This forum would serve
as the initial step forward, with respect to demonstrating openness and
transparency to all members of the Vibank community. The tactical elements
of the open forum would consist of the following: a verbal invitation to all
community members via a telephone call from council members and village
administration; a series of posters posted on the community bulletin board,
and on the bulletin boards at all local businesses; and a simple one-page
invitation via a community-wide mail drop through Canada Post.
2. COMMUNITY PLANNING KICKOFF MEDIA EVENT
Community spirit can be increased dramatically if the Village of Vibank made
a concerted effort in promoting the benefits associated with the growth and
cohesiveness of the community as a whole. As such, it is imperative that the
Village of Vibank takes the initial step of using the media to its advantage in
promoting the growth and spirit of the community. A community planning
media kickoff event would be comprised of a news conference, and would
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 9
include remarks from Hon. Don McMorris, MLA, Indian Head – Milestone, the
Mayor of Vibank, and two representatives from key community groups.
Members of the Vibank community, and surrounding area, would be invited
to attend this event, and would have the opportunity to observe a media
event that focuses on promoting the community. This kickoff media event
would also mark the start of a series of media and community-focused
events that seek to promote the Vibank community as a whole in a positive
3. COMMUNITY PLANNING MICROSITE
The best way to supplement the community planning media event would be
to use the media event to launch the official Vibank community planning
microsite. This microsite would allow citizens and members of the greater
community to contribute, discuss and share their ideas with the Village of
Vibank. This website would be similar to the “Design Regina” online
campaign that the City of Regina launched to solicit ideas for the
development of the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP). The Vibank version
of this campaign would allow citizens and community members to contribute
and share their ideas as to what they think the Village of Vibank’s future
could and should look like. The microsite would be an official means of
seeking input from the entire community, and would shape the focus and
scope of the development, review and final release of the updated Village of
4. COMMUNITY PLANNING SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
While a community planning website would serve as an excellent means of
soliciting feedback and dialogue between the Village of Vibank and
community members, it would be advantageous to take this dialogue a step
further by introducing the use of social media in an official capacity.
Currently, the Village of Vibank does not have an official social media
presence; the creation of a primary Twitter account and Facebook page
would serve as an excellent means of recording and documenting the stages
of the campaign, and would form a large portion of the content that would be
placed in the updated OCP. It should be noted, too, that while Twitter would
be an excellent way of taking the initial step in creating a conversation,
Facebook would most likely be the main platform from which the village could
initiate online dialogue and discussion – Facebook, after all, has the world’s
largest membership, as compared to Twitter. Not only would the community
planning social media campaign allow community members to share their
thoughts and ideas related to the future of the community, it would also allow
existing groups to share their events to a larger base and audience. Though
traditional methods of advertising via paper posters and mail outs have been
effective, the use of social media would serve as an excellent means of
promoting all community events with little cost. Moreover, sharing and
advertising community events would illustrate that the community as a whole
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 10
is extremely active, and that the formulation of a new OCP – with the
community’s help – will allow community groups to remain successful at
hosting future events for more community members to take part in, and
5. MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING SIGNING EVENT
The final component of communicating the way forward is to solidify the
future positive relationship between the Village of Vibank and community
groups. This can be accomplished through the official signing of a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Village of Vibank and
community groups from the village, and surrounding area. The signing event
would be open to the public, and would serve as a means of attracting the
media to yet another positive event that promotes the community’s growth
and commitment to the success of the community as a whole. Though MOU
signing events are typically reserved for larger communities and/or
partnerships, it would be advantageous for the Village of Vibank to attract the
media to cover this event; it would demonstrate that partnerships and a
commitment to a community’s future is not reserved solely for larger centers
and corporations. This MOU event would serve as a means of officially
launching the community steering committee that will work to break down the
barriers between community groups, and help keep the Village of Vibank’s
growth and community spirit moving forward, so that all members of the
community can benefit. Though not legally binding, this MOU will act as a
means of physically expressing the Village of Vibank’s interest and intent of
forming an official group that seeks to help the village keep the community-
developed OCP in motion, so that the community can work as a whole to
move toward the goals that have been developed and identified through an
extensive community-wide consultation process.
MEASUREMENT & EVALUATION
GOAL #1 – Create a favourable relationship between the Village of Vibank
Council and the village’s community groups. [Relationship Management Goal]
1.1 Awareness: Awareness surveys would be utilized to gauge the
awareness of community members after launching the campaign.
1.2 Acceptance: Referring to Council minutes to observe the votes in
favor of forming an official steering committee comprised of members
of the Vibank community, and surrounding area.
1.3 Action: To recruit and sign a total of 10 community members to the
newly formed steering committee formed by the Village of Vibank
Communicating the Way Forward – Strategic Communications Plan 11
GOAL #2 – Increase public support for community-developed goals. [Task
2.1 Awareness: Media coverage would be monitored, as well as social
media posts by community members of the Village of Vibank, and
surrounding area. Positive/negative/neutral comments and interactions
would also be used to evaluate the awareness of community members.
2.2 Acceptance: Post-event audience evaluation and tabulation would be
utilized to gauge the participation and attraction of community
members at various community events throughout a 12-month period.
2.3 Action: Attendance and membership of community members would be
a measure of improvement and organizational change among
community groups, as well as individual members of the Vibank
community, and surrounding area.