Catching Leaves Made Easier
How can we coordinate all community outreach across the entire municipality?
Under-budget, under-resourced communications managers are the norm, not the exception, making it difficult for larger municipalities to overcome disparate communications and public consultations coming from multiple city departments. Don’t let this misconception lead you away from optimal public consultation plans.
Kent Waugh - Managing Partner
Positioning the Communications department as the centre of the municipality's communications and public consultation work is a daunting task. It is often feared that the lines of communication needed to accomplish this are challenging to coordinate and open departments up to inter-departmental miscommunication.
There’s a stick, a carrot and then there’s
carrot cake with cream cheese icing!
An integrated approach
The stick! Provincial and Federal Compliance Requirements – FOIPPA and CASL among others
The carrot! Communications expertise and support on messaging and branding along with the appropriate software.
The carrot cake with cream cheese icing! A unique combination of the stick and carrot delivered through a responsive, cost effective, efficient corporate service approach.
Leveraging compliance requirements, and to a lesser degree software costs, can kick start a centralized corporate services model. But there are even more benefits that can be put forward as solid arguments for enabling Communications to have a more prominent seat at the table.
Better communications and consultation coordination
There is a growing volume of projects and programs requiring public consultation and, as a result, requiring continual communications updates. Ensuring the communications department is well-informed and playing a role in each update adds significant value to municipal outcomes.
Having Communications at the table functions to provide all the tools and resources municipal departments need and those they don't yet know they need.
Balancing the need and importance of each of the following can help:
1. Compliance Concerns | FOIPPA and CASL among other provincial and federal legislation
2. Software Costs | Licenses, Staff Training Costs, Staff Operating Costs (E.G. inefficiency related to irregular use)
3. Municipal Messaging & Branding | Consistency is key to success
4. Research Expertise | Centralized, coordinated support using best practices approaches (IAP2).
5. Communications Expertise | Overcoming municipal-speak and using consistent language helps improve communications effectiveness
Moving towards a centralized corporate services model requires communications oversight to support the key activities behind community outreach. Activities such as outbound communications that target residents, public consultation efforts (including open houses), surveys, and community input initiatives can require the following elements:
Brand & Message Alignment
To achieve each element, the following services were developed and delivered centrally via the communications department:
Designed, tested and deployed key e-newsletter categories and other related e-communications on specialized software (FOIPPA and CASL compliant, where required). Municipal departments appreciated having an easy way to get the word out to the community.
Expertly* designed, tested and deployed using specialized survey software (FOIPPA and CASL compliant, where required). Municipal departments appreciated the support (and knowing the results are meaningful/reliable).
Community Engagement Research Panel:
Community panels provide pre-profiled, research ready residents, willing to participate in community surveys. Departments receive survey results that are representative of the community allowing them to make recommendations easier and with greater confidence. Detailed reporting or PowerPoint decks of the survey results has proven to be an efficient way to share and present the survey results across the municipality.
*TheWGroup.ca provides research expertise directly to municipal government staff and departments requiring public consultation and internal survey research support.
Fully-informed, engaged communications department
The municipality increased the volume of advanced requests for support by 3-fold
We’re proud to say that over the course of this program, the municipality increased the volume of advanced requests for support by 3-fold. Instead of the communications department needing to focus time on putting out mis-communication 'fires' and overcoming failed survey projects, it was helping departments drive greater community connections and insights.
Departments across city hall routinely give the communications department advance notice for their community-related projects and programs and invite them to the planning table. This proactive program approach has enabled the communications department to deliver significant value across the municipality.
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