Strategic Communications

Most of my work in the last thirty years has been strategic communications with a wide array of government institutions, advocacy organizations, political and community leaders.  Strategic communications are so instrumental to any change effort that it is easy to blur lines between it and programs in advocacy, democracy and good governance.

I counted the communications strategies I had written over the years—the early plans on a typewriter and later efforts in a cloud–I stopped counting at 60.  It is not as painful as it sounds, because communication strategies involve collaborators, so I am rarely alone in this effort.  There is usually discussion and brainstorming to design a comprehensive plan on public opinion research, branding, messages, outreach, coalition building and online communications.

In the 1980s we typed and mailed press releases, and in the 1990s we stood in front of our fax machines and a television set.  Today, we review Google analytics for websites and test mobile applications, create Wikipedia entries and optimize sites for search engines.  Communications continues to evolve around the world, but country by country, the information environment changes in its own time.

Strategic communications planning often results in mentoring leaders or staff in small groups to fill gaps in knowledge, skills or update them on the latest trends.  Over the years, I have created 52 different training modules in media relations, public presence, branding identity, social networks and message development and testing.   Innovation continues and information environments change, so this list will only continue to grow over time.

Communications Management

  • Evaluate communications structure or programs.
  • Evaluate websites from a user/visitor perspective.
  • Create a communications plan or strategy.
  • Create a message calendar and events program.
  • Create a communications team structure and job assignments.

Communications Basics

  • Develop messages and message delivery discipline.
  • Create a style or branding manuals or guidance.
  • Practical writing for public audiences.
  • Internal communications.
  • Inter-governmental dialogue or communications.

Public Diplomacy

  • Public involvement /outreach.
  • Getting key leader or organizational endorsements.
  • Event design and planning.
  • Presentation or speakers’ training.
  • Brochures and material creation.
  • Donor relations.

Process Issues

  • Internal communications within the government agency.
  • Open records policy and procedures for handling information requests.
  • Create a customer service policy and process for dealing with citizens or beneficiaries.
  • Customer / citizen service policies and process steps.
  • Rapid response or and crisis communications process.

Media Skills

  • Package and pitch story ideas/materials to the media.
  • Media releases, advisories and statements.
  • Media briefings for complex topics.
  • Speech writing.
  • Spokesperson video training with interview techniques.
  • Script writing for television and radio.
  • Monitoring the media and correcting mistakes.

Social Media Skills

  • Website development and content writing.
  • E-newsletters for internal or external audiences.
  • Social media campaigns, how-to, trends.
  • Search optimization, key words, headings.
  • Website usability practices for government websites.
  • Video on phones and iMovie editing for social media.
  • Simple graphic design for social media (Canva).