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climate change efforts

Communication Tactics for Municipalities to Use in Climate Change Efforts

Right now, it’s no secret that climate change is becoming an increasingly crucial situation for municipalities to consider. While it already affects all life on Earth until we combat it, the reality is that so many people are hesitant to even believe in it. Why? Because climate change data can be so hard for people to conceptualize. The spread of misinformation and politics doesn’t help, either.

Another issue that can make it difficult to act on climate change is adapting to the changes made. For example, to lower fossil fuels, the Biden administration aims to make half of all vehicles in the United States electric by 2030. Concurrently, several car manufacturers have greeted climate change efforts by signing the zero-emission by 2040 declaration at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Despite this, though, the U.S. is still running behind on electric vehicles, in large part because government incentives aren’t as generous as they are in other countries.

In a similar scope, governments must adapt their communication tactics to address a diverse audience. However, as diverse as they are, some of the people within that audience might have trouble understanding the point, or they might not even believe in climate change at all. Here are four communication tactics for municipalities to include in climate change efforts.

Communication Tactics for Municipalities to Use in Climate Change Efforts

1. Use Credible Sources

Now more than ever, in a world where “fake news” is a frequently trending topic, people must be vigilant in discerning fact from fiction. This is particularly true in the U.S., where climate change has become so politicized and divisive that governments have gone so far as to remove climate change efforts and regulations that were already in place.

To help combat the issue of both misinformation and climate change, governments must use credible sources, such as climate change experts and scientists, in their communications strategy. These experts can communicate the complexities of climate change in more simple and/or metaphorical terms to be more relatable to your audience. Being relatable to your audience will help them to understand, and getting them to understand will enable or even inspire them to become more involved in their communities and climate change efforts.

Besides helping your audience understand, being relatable is important to storytelling, another avenue municipalities should take in their climate change communications.

2. Highlight Uplifting, Personal Stories

According to a 2020 survey from Digital Third Coast, more than 65 percent of people surveyed have watched more news than usual and are either anxious or overwhelmed by it. To get residents on the same page, governments should be careful to communicate climate change in a personal, positive light. There’s a scientific reason why people like to hear stories that resonate with them. It increases the release of oxytocin, a hormone that makes people feel good.

It’s important to pay attention to mental health in the world of marketing. You want people to feel good about the future of climate change instead of hopelessness. The point of climate change efforts is to get people to act. If municipalities want their residents to care about climate change, they need to inspire them with stories they can connect with, including ones that will inspire their future.

Connecting a climate change message to your community’s cultural values and beliefs is another strategy governments can use to make climate change relatable. For example, say it’s the Superbowl, an annual sports event watched nationally by millions of Americans. The U.S. Government or its municipalities could fund a climate change commercial featuring people recycling during the big game to encourage people to act. The great appeal of commercials is their visuals, another vital tactic to consider in climate change communications.

3. Visualize Climate Change

Because climate change is so visual, residents would benefit greatly from graphics, infographics, videos, commercials, and other visuals to highlight climate change stories and data.

Governments should use Instagram, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn as marketing tools to spread these visuals. Social media is where many residents go to find engaging and informational content. If your municipality isn’t utilizing it in your communications strategy, you should be. It can help your municipality to communicate complex information and ideas related to climate change. More importantly, it can also encourage residents to act on it.

4. Think Globally; Act Locally

Thinking globally means thinking about how people can slow, stop, or reverse climate change. Acting locally means finding ways to make a difference with climate change in your community. Teaming up with other organizations to act on climate change is another route municipalities may take to encourage efforts. An example of this is Gwinnett County, Georgia. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful, a nonprofit organization aiming to make Gwinnett County more environmentally friendly, and Gwinnett County Solid Waste Management teamed up on November 6th for America Recycles Day to collect electronics, latex and oil paint, tires, and other hard-to-recycle items.

Climate change will only worsen if we don’t work together to solve it. It’s a global issue that requires local and national action. Municipalities should think about how they may encourage residents to act on climate change issues within their communities. Taking simple steps, such as encouraging residents to recycle, save water, or support environmental groups will help make a difference.

Do you need help considering your climate change communications strategy? Our creatives at PivotPath have the tools to help. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

strategic partnerships

Engaging Your Community Together: The Power of Creating and Maintaining Strategic Partnerships

Partnerships are a cornerstone of community outreach and engagement. When two or more organizations cohesively work together towards a common goal, greater presence and impact can occur. However, building a successful partnership requires organizations to strategically engage their communities together. To do so, organizations must learn how to utilize their strengths and effectively align with their strategic partners to serve their purpose. Doing so ensures your organization and its strategic partners have done their best to meet their goals on a global scale.

Engaging Your Community Together: The Power of Creating and Maintaining Strategic Partnerships

 1. Institute your organization’s internal goals and objectives

You have to identify your organization’s problems before you can decide which partnership to pursue. First and foremost, developing and examining your organization’s internal goals and objectives will help determine which goals to establish within the partnership. Brainstorming with your team to determine the goals, objectives, interests, and motivations behind the partnership reduces the use of resources and potential risks involving your organization in the partnership. It also increases your success rate in developing a plan that aligns with the expectations of the partner organization and your target group.

2. Analyze potential strategic partnerships

strategic partnerships

Conducting due diligence before engaging with potential partners will help your organization know your internal goals and objectives and those of your potential partners. Due diligence involves investigating potential partners with an audit. Before engaging with a potential partner organization, your organization must first develop its internal goals and objectives and then assess your potential partners. Designing your first partnership plan and asking your stakeholders for their feedback on your design will help your organization to decide whether or not to form the partnership. If you’re dead set on pursuing the partnership, your organization needs to formalize the partnership document or business case. A business case is a written document, short verbal agreement, or presentation that explains the reasoning behind starting a project or task.

3. Develop a business case

Developing a business case provides an avenue for the partnering decision-makers to discuss the coalition and objectives of the partnership with transparency. The business case defines the partnership goals, objectives, and budget for resources or returns on investment (if any). It also may include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to track the progress of the partnership’s goals and objectives. It’s vital to keep your business case up-to-date and timely as it describes the partnership relationship for all parties involved.

A business case describes and involves:

  • The purpose, target audiences, objectives, and goals of the partnership
  • The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the partnership
  • The players involved in the partnership, including the target audience
  • Budgeting for resources or returns on investment
  • Quantitative and qualitative benchmarks

After developing a business case, delegate the roles and responsibilities for each partnering organization.

4. Determine the roles and responsibilities

Determining the roles and responsibilities within the partnership will ensure every partnering organization is doing its part. Using a governance structure describes what each organization is expected to achieve in the partnership. It creates a positive relationship between partners, as well as identifies stakeholders. Most notably, it can serve as a guiding and efficient organizational document should a challenge within the partnership arise.

Typically in a governance structure, depending on the level of need of the partnerships, there are usually two to three levels of groups:

  • The Strategic Group or Governance Group comprises representatives from all partner organizations involved and is responsible for achieving high-level decision-making on the overall objectives of the partnership.
  • The Partnership or Project Group includes a project manager from each organization. In addition to completing set tasks, the project manager is responsible for managing the project plan.
  • The Implementing Group involves representatives from all partner organizations. This group implements the activities and deliverables within the project plan and reports back to the Project Group. At this level, each partnership delivers its agreed-upon work.

Once you’ve determined the governance structure of your organization, mitigate the risks and conflicts associated with the partnership.

5. Mitigate the risks and conflicts

Mitigating the risks and conflicts of your partnerships increases the likelihood of achieving your mutual goals and objectives. It also improves the confidence and trusts your stakeholders and partners have in your organization.

Risk and conflict mitigation is a vital tactic in creating powerful partnerships. It should be assessed during the partnership due diligence before your organization has met with the potential partners and also during the partnership process.

A risk assessment can:

  1. Help you understand your partnership’s risk profile
  2. Analyze crucial risks
  3. Decide how to mitigate risks
  4. Mitigate your risks

Including your organization’s community during the risk assessment provides transparency for all parties involved. There is also power in numbers, so incorporating and also engaging your community, especially your partners, will improve the goals and objectives of your partnership.

6. Engage your community

Paying attention to your community, especially your stakeholders and your target audience, is crucial to engaging your community. If you don’t water and sunbathe your houseplants, eventually they’ll die. Similarly, if you don’t interact with your audience, your partnership and even your organization may cease to exist. You have to engage your community to know what they want and need from your organization in order for your partnership to thrive.

Organizations and their partnerships can engage their community simply by talking to them. A study from the Royal Horticultural Society found that talking to houseplants helps them grow faster. Likewise, conducting surveys, interviews, briefings, meetings in groups or one-on-one, town hall meetings, etc. will help to grow your organization as well as your partnership and its goals. Because engaging your community is also crucial to your organization’s flourishing, organizations should also engage their community in the decision-making processes, such as in the governance structure.

7. Manage the resources

Achieving your partnership’s objectives may be impossible if your partnership isn’t managing its resources, such as access, data, finance, and human resources.

Resource management helps build powerful partnerships through:

  • Developing documentation of the resources used to support the achievement of objectives and establish trust between partners and third-party funders
  • Ensuring transparency related to financial agreements in the partnership, including which partnership contributed which resources and incurred costs
  • Providing a fair division in the distribution of costs and resources between the partners

In addition, partnerships should make sure to incorporate a resource management plan that quantifies the resources into monetary terms. That way it is much easier to manage a budget.

8. Evaluate the efficacy of joint partnership

Along with resource management, organizations must evaluate the efficacy of the partnership. Partnerships are made powerful through resource management, a vital benchmark within a partnership’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework. The M&E framework fosters successful partnerships because it monitors project progress, resources, and risk. It also encourages learning within the partnership, and, most importantly, it creates and supports public accountability within the partnership.

Organizations in a partnership should utilize these M&E framework key steps to:

  1. Identify the KPIs, impact targets, and the range of M&E activities
  2. Develop a system to collect data and information within the range of M&E activities
  3. Collect data and document inputs, outputs, and outcomes
  4. Analyze and evaluate the data outcomes against KPIs and impact targets

Furthermore, organizations should evaluate not only their partnership projects but the partnership itself. Evaluating the partnership can improve the relationship between partners, provide recommendations for changes to roles and responsibilities within the partnership, and facilitate discussions to prevent potential disagreements in the future.

If this guide wasn’t enough to drive you down the road to developing your powerful partnership, our strategists at PivotPath can help you reach them. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

creating and maintaing coalitions and partnerships

Selecting the Right Communications Agency for Your Municipality

Selecting the Right Communications Agency for Your Municipality

When selecting the right communications agency for your municipality and looking at how many agencies are out there, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, flustered, and frustrated. Marketing might seem like a field traditionally reserved for for-profit businesses. But, certain aspects of local government, such as city branding, definitely take marketing skills. These marketing skills are your most valuable asset when communicating initiatives, raising awareness, and encouraging participation.

We know it can be easier to stick with the same marketing and communication consultants for projects, but this can keep your community in the spiral of unrecognition and lost revenue opportunities. Plus, new, innovative agencies can bring a fresh perspective to your team that has not been thought of, developed, or implemented before. We will cover some factors to consider when selecting the right communications agency for your municipality.

Government  Marketing and Communications: Why is it Important?

Municipalities are looked upon by their residents to advance their community development, health, education, recreation, and safety. They plan and pay for most roads, run public schools, and provide water. They organize police and fire services, establish zoning regulations and licensed professions. Perhaps most importantly, they arrange elections for their residents to help maintain peace, order, and good governance districts.

It’s not a far cry to assume that solid and transparent communications from your agency will create trust in your residents and hopefully inspire them to become more involved in their communities. As such, when this relationship solidifies over time, residents realize that their concerns matter. They are theoretically being listened to, after all. The more community engagement from both parties, the better informed your residents are on projects that affect their daily lives.

Realize Your Municipality Objectives

 Municipalities often face unique challenges—most often a unique mix of businesses, services, and infrastructure to support the needs and wants of their residents and stakeholders. Therefore, a community’s strategic growth must be the combined result of both short-term and long-term goals. Considering these goals is an integral first step to selecting the right communications agency for your local government. These goals may or may not include the following:

  • Improving community engagement and pride through community involvement, events, and volunteering
  • Fostering business development through land use planning, supporting, and engaging developers’ efforts
  • Enhancing tourism industry development through product development and promotion—both internal and external
  • Enhancing and engaging in community service objectives

Now, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all goal list: in fact, complex municipalities rarely have the same problems or solutions for it. However, these involved municipalities have well-defined goals and objectives that pinpoint what action should be taken as far as marketing goes. More often than not, this is where your marketing agency comes in. They think and operate using business objectives when implementing a proposed plan. They understand the “why” and the “how” behind their actions and communicate this to internal and external stakeholders.

Consider Your Stakeholders: Your Bread and Butter

It can be challenging to engage with a general audience with more corporate clients than a specific one. One of the more unique challenges that municipalities face, however, is the fact that these governments have a large number of stakeholders that cover just about every resident in that area, a comprehensive spectrum: residents, business owners, the general workforce, tourists, elected officials, even your municipal staff. Sometimes, people who aren’t even residents of the area are essential stakeholders: influencers like real estate brokers and developers, community partners, educational organizations, advocacy groups, and more.

Identifying your key stakeholders is the second step in ensuring that your communications agency will target the people you want. In addition, it is often best that you base your choice on which communication agency you will go with, depending on your stakeholders’ wants or needs and your goals. A successful government marketing agency will work to deliver a memorable message that is unique, understandable, and sets your region apart from other communities. It would help if you had a good handle on what matters to your stakeholders so that you can best meet their needs.

Personify Your Municipality

Here, you should take an honest look at your region and ask yourself: what makes it unique in the market? What problems can your municipality solve, and why is your solution the most coherent? In time, you will find that your answer often becomes your municipalities’ most important proposition as the foundation for your marketing messaging. A good communications agency will help you establish an identifiable “brand” emblematic of your region, a “personality” that helps define a consistent voice to convey your value propositions.

Some of the more famous examples of this phenomenon include Disney’s adoption of “the magician” in their brand or Harley Davidson’s adoption of “the grizzled biker outlaw.” Either way, both adoptions contribute to these brands’ sense of identity, conveying a specific appearance that their communications reflect. These could affect logos and taglines through marketing materials, including websites, signage, residential communications, advertising, sponsorship materials, and even events.

Be Sure to Establish A Budget

The size of your budget is less important than your objectives and the different capabilities needed to meet and exceed your municipality’s goals.

Still, it is also important to exercise discipline when developing your budget and picking the right communications agency. Undoubtedly, the size of said agency also plays a role in determining one, but be sure not to fall into the rabbit hole of “big budgeting for a big agency and smaller budgeting for a smaller agency.” 

Municipalities could also learn from the messaging tactics of businesses through a communications agency. Companies deliver messages to consumers in many ways, such as outdoor advertising, print, broadcast, and direct mail—and a communications agency, as it turns out, isn’t much different. Depending on the agency, they can do this in-house with either one employee, a small group, an entire marketing firm, or even outsource their branding tasks to on-call agencies. Some even do a particular combination of all four.

Regardless of which you pick, it is essential to realize that some tactics work better than others. For example, relying on an in-house marketing team increases the speed with which a city can respond and push out messaging during an emergency or crisis, as shown with the Zika virus in South Florida. With that in mind, team structures and partnerships are abundant, depending on each city’s branding and marketing needs. What works for one city might not work for another.

Ensure That You and Your Agency Are On the Same Page

Even more important when considering a specific communications agency is whether or not they “get” you. However, this doesn’t just cover this agency’s experience in your region or the industries within said region. Frequently, the best communications agencies can understand the problems you are having in the public sector. For example, suppose a stakeholder in your municipality has a problem with transportation or traffic congestion that extends their commute. In that case, a good communications agency should address the issue by giving updates to fix that issue. This way demonstrates genuine care for your stakeholders.

Review Your Results

Whichever agency you choose to hire, be sure to keep in mind the results of your efforts. Metrics are essential, especially in this day and age. Can the agency promote earned media coverage? Through ads to ensure stakeholders view, digest, and understand your municipality’s message, do they do so through ads? In the end, results are the most significant indicator of business success, just as much as government.

Revisit Your Long-Term Vision and Goals

Many businesses and organizations alike focus on quantifiable results and return on investment. These include factors like more clicks on a website, greater app use, a boost in event attendance, or greater recognition of a city’s logo and mission. Municipalities should also do the same to identify what did and did not work. Afterward, it’s essential to check up on your goals and your long-term vision with your municipality. Are you on the way to making that long-term vision a reality?

Are you running a municipality or some other form of governance? Have you found yourself stuck when it comes to marketing? Contact PivotPath today to schedule a free consultation to help improve your strategy. We’ll put you on the right path!

International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

It is International Strategic Planning month, and time for organizations to develop their strategic plans for the year. Although it can seem cumbersome, strategic plans are vital to ensuring your organization meets its goals and objectives. It also aids your team in knowing where to properly manage time and resources and effectively reach your targeted audiences.

By answering the following questions, you will position your organization to soar this fiscal year.

International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

1. Why does your organization need a strategic plan?

The first step in developing an annual strategic plan is to know why you want and need one. Consider the needs of your organization and the needs of your stakeholders. Perhaps your organization has never thought to put a strategic plan together in general. You might just be starting and need a new direction. Or maybe you had a tough year like many municipalities, foundations, and other organizations have had due to COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) created its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan 2021 (SPRP2021) in follow-up to the organization’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. These strategic actions focused on the new challenges, for example, to lessen the risks related to new variants—such as the safe, equitable, and effective delivery of diagnostics and vaccines.

The benefits of using a strategic plan include:

  • Paints a picture to stakeholders on progress within the organization
  • Promotes mission-driven values within the organization
  • Shows your organization is guided by success
  • Invites staff to be future-focused
  • Furthers the organization’s mission

2. What are your goals?

After understanding the purpose behind your organization’s strategic plan, the next step is to determine your goals. Goals and objectives should be specific and detailed. Decide what you want each department to develop and achieve, and your organization’s holistic goals and objectives based on the needs of your stakeholders.

– What if you can’t determine strategic goals and objectives?

Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis can help you get there. This should be done at least once per year.

A S.W.O.T. analysis is done in order to help your organization formulate objectives.

Take the time to brainstorm internally to determine:

  • Strengths (internal) – What your organization does well.
  • Weaknesses (internal) – Where your organization can improve.
  • Opportunities (external) – What market trends could positively impact your organization.
  • Threats (external) – Which external factors (competitors, pandemic, etc.) could have a negative impact on your organization?

In addition to an internal S.W.O.T analysis, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and town hall meetings are other forms of stakeholder research and examples of how your organization could better understand the needs of your stakeholders, which in turn helps to determine the goals and objectives of the organization.

3. What is your organization’s plans for the future?

It’s important to know why you’re creating a strategic plan for your organization so you can know where your organization is heading into the future. Consider the premises of your organization in order to determine the best future course of action.

– What are the internal and external premises of your organization?

Internal premises come from the organization itself. It is the beliefs, behaviors, and values of the executives and employees of the organization. Examples of internal premises include the forecasts, policies, and programs of the organization, competence of management, organizational capabilities, and other resources of the organization in the form of practices and, in some cases, profits.

External premises come from outside of the organization. It comprises of the cultural, economic, political, social, and technological environment and cannot be controlled by the organization. Examples of external premises include government policies and the rate of growth in the population and economy.

Crafting premises based on internal and external factors will ensure your organization’s strategic plan is feasible and sustainable. In addition to internal and external premises, feedback from downstream and upstream stakeholders should also be taken into account.

– What are downstream and upstream stakeholders?

Downstream stakeholders are the target audience. They’re those the organization seeks to influence and reach. It includes the general public, residents, visitors, media, advocacy influencers, and potential partners.

Upstream stakeholders develop the product to bring to the target audience. They are the other audience members that do not necessarily have to be influenced based on the information itself. Rather, their influence is in the dissemination of information and actively promoting the organization and its offerings.

4. How can your strategic plan aid in organizational sustainability?

international strategic planning

Knowing the internal and external premises and the kind of stakeholders your organization has is not the only way to forecast the future. Researching other ways in which your organization could achieve its goals is another avenue.

Aside from the S.W.O.T. analysis and knowing the feedback from your stakeholders, a community needs assessment or environmental scan can help your municipality or organization obtain information from the environment.

A community needs assessment provides municipalities and organizations with a picture of the local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place. The assessment seeks to understand the needs of the community by gathering accurate information. It can help municipalities and organizations to identify areas for improvement in its services to their communities.

An environmental scan includes the ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment. Currently and in the future, these internal and external trends determine its success.

5. Which plan will your organization choose?

Once you’ve gathered all of the data you can to support your goals, it’s time to decide which plan or which model your organization will choose to implement. There are dozens of plans and models to choose from, portrayed in this article from ClearPoint Strategy, which features 16 of the most popular ones. In our last article, PivotPath introduced you to the PESO model for developing an effective communications and visibility plan. So how will you know which is best for your organization?

strategic plan

Before setting yourself up for confusion, consider these questions:

– Is it expensive?

Your organization will want to pay the least amount of money possible for whichever strategic plan or model you choose.

– Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Make sure your organization chooses the strategic plan or model that has more positive potential outcomes than negative ones.

– Is it fixed?

Finally, you’ll want a strategic plan or model that isn’t rigid or fixed but adaptable should things change with your objectives during the planning process.

– What will be your supporting plans?

After the initial strategic plan is in place, it’s important to determine a secondary, supporting plan to meet your goals. Some organizations can do this in their annual report that happens once per year, while the strategic planning timeline can take place anywhere from every one to five years.

Never made an annual report? No worries! PivotPath can help you to create your best annual report yet.

The benefits of using an annual report include:

  • Strengthens the relationship with the strategic plan by crafting newer strategies that further the strategic plan’s goals.
  • Supports the mission of the organization in daily practice.
  • Gives staff a clear course on their responsibilities to the plan and their department.

6. Are you listening?

The most important takeaway from creating your strategic plan is to make sure you’re listening and connecting with your stakeholders. Strategic planning and the background research involved may take anywhere from six to nine months. But it ensures that your organization will know what its stakeholders want and need, which will aid your organization in achieving its goals and objectives.

PivotPath has experience in B2G marketing and communications. We can help you implement your most successful strategic plan yet. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

Keys to Developing an Effective Communications and Visibility Plan for Your Intergovernmental Organization

Communications can either make or break your market, and when you’re working in an intergovernmental organization like the European Union or United Nations, every bit of strategy helps. Marketing communications is worth its weight in gold as it captures the attention of beneficiaries, community-based organizations, and strategic partners alike and informs them of your programming and the excellent work your organization does. Even better, though, robust communication strategies are a surefire way to ensure maximum visibility. This article will go over crucial tactics you need to include within your communications and visibility plan, how strategy can impact your organization, and how to implement it most effectively.

Keys to Developing an Effective Communications and Visibility Plan for Your Intergovernmental Organization

What a Communications Strategy Is and What It Is Not.

Fundamentally, a marketing communications strategy is an effort to reach your target audiences through communication. Your organization could communicate these strategies through a host of methods such as television, radio, social media, games, events, graphics, publications, emails, public speaking, or any other medium that can communicate the message effectively. However, “communications strategy” is a mouthful, which is why many often use a shorthand: Public Relations, or PR, interchangeably.

Now, let us be the first to tell you: public relations and a communications strategy are NOT the same things. Sure, they may be closely related—both serve as forms of communication between an organization and its beneficiaries, investors, and the general public. However, the critical difference is that public relations often imply the relationship between an organization and the larger public. Communication strategies instead focus on promoting an organization’s products or services to its beneficiaries.

When it comes down to it, there are three essential aspects to the strategy: the message, the target, and the medium.

The message is what you want to say.

The target is who you are speaking to.

The medium is what channels you are using, in other words, where your message is to be said.

Each aspect is equally important. A successful communications strategy almost always frames these three elements in a complementary manner. This builds trust in your organization, reaches the right audiences, and achieves a positive ROI.

Key #1: Set Concrete, Clear Goals and Objectives

There’s nothing worse than jumping the gun, and we’re all guilty of doing it in one way or another in communications. As tempting as it may seem, trying to take the bull by the horns without planning is a common yet troubling pitfall. It can often lead to mismanagement down the road, or worse, overwhelm your staff, often leading to the strategy never getting off the ground. With concrete, clear goals and objectives, you mitigate that risk, managing it in smaller, clear milestones.

 

We recommend referring to the SMART system, illustrated by the Coaching Tools Company, to set your communication strategy goals into a viable roadmap.

Key #2: Pinpoint and Prioritize Your Target Audiences

Speaking of jumping the gun, it’s equally as important to identify who your target audience is before you begin. Further, if you want to gain the attention of a different audience, be sure to segment the audience based on common needs or interests, then craft your message specific to that audience.

Perhaps the easiest way to segment your target audience would be to conduct surveys or interviews. Be sure to ask questions about their values, needs, wants, and so on. Be sure to ask yourself the following questions to have an easier time developing your audience:

  • What groups or individuals do you want/need to engage to help you reach your goals?
  • Who would benefit the most from your organization?
  • What actions do you want the audience to take?
  • Who do you generally engage in your programs, projects, and initiatives?
  • What are the challenges that hold back your supporters from contributing, if any?
  • What do your supporters have in common?
  • How do individuals find your organization? What is the easiest method? (e.g., social media, events, word of mouth, etc.)

These surveys are often more important than people realize. They are crucial for creating highly targeted marketing messages that your audience can relate to. Once you have gathered enough data on your target audience and know what they want, you’ll be able to move on to the next step.

Key #3: Craft an Important, Compelling Message

Regardless of who it is, target audiences will have different motivators and barriers that are quite different from one target to the next. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is have a too general message because otherwise, it will fall short. Always try to keep your message clear, concise, personalized, and uncomplicated—because it won’t do any good if your message is buried in jargon.

Often, compelling messages can be quite challenging to form, even if you know the behaviors that drive your target audience. Here are four key elements that must be tailored to each audience:

  • The Key Message – The core takeaway, or message, that you want your audience to know.
  • The Secondary Message(s) – A secondary message is supporting information that helps bolster your key or original point.
  • Proof Points – A proof point is precisely what it sounds like: factual evidence that affirms your earlier messages.
  • Call to Action – Perhaps the most important aspect, a call to action instructs your audience to contact your business.

Key #4: A Little Integrated Strategy Never Hurt Anybody

This is where the communications plan comes in. While an integrated strategy sounds intimidating, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Strategies bring a blend of communication goals, tactics, and methods that you employ to devise the best possible plan that works for your organization. PivotPath can help you with this, as we did for the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone.

Many frameworks could help brainstorm what approach you want to take in communication, but the most widely-known framework is the PESO model, originally illustrated below by Spin Sucks.

The PESO Model places the highest importance on the following information:

  • P: Paid Media — Promotional efforts such as social media ads, sponsored posts, and native advertising, all of which involve paying for placements on third-party channels. These include native advertising, event sponsorships, paid search such as Google AdWords, etc.
  • E: Earned Media — Buzz generated by the public (e.g., the press, your audience, your communications team, etc.) through traditional public relations, word of mouth, television, influencer marketing/relations, etc.
  • S: Shared Media — Content on social media channels designed to prioritize driven engagement between an organization and its audience. This includes social media content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and user-generated content like reviews, videos, comments, etc.
  • O: Owned Media — Your organizations’ media—websites, blogs, events, etc.

When developing your tactics, be wary of the 80/20 rule. It states that you should only allot 20 percent of social media content for direct tasks (i.e., donations, event registration, etc.) and allocate the remaining 80 percent for building community through engaging content.

Key #5: Build Up Your Budget

Setting up a budget plan means that your organization must account for financials at all project steps. Being effective and cost-effective is the name of the game. Getting cost-effective press for your business through influencers, journalists, and bloggers with stories of your organization, brand, and products. Be sure to contact people linking similar content or even utilize tools such as Crunchbase or JustReachOut. Building a budget is also a fundamental resource for assessing your plan’s return on investment.

To get building, it helps to consider the following:

  • Does your organization have an existing budget allocated for communications activities?
  • How much will each line item in the tactical portion of your plan cost?
  • If applicable, what are the projected vs. actual costs for previous campaign implementations?

Your budget should serve as a guardrail to help keep your plan on time and track. To avoid frivolous spending, be sure only to allot spending within your budget unless you’re confident that you absolutely need it.

Key #6: Map Out an Actionable Timeline

The final key in any strategy is to map out your activities in a timeline. Believe it or not, timelines are essential in ensuring that you stay on track when transitioning from the planning phase to the implementation phase. Monthly or quarterly timelines apply to these types of marketing strategies, but be sure to keep in mind any significant events and holidays that you want to leverage, as it could be a worthwhile endeavor.

An innovative, well-rounded communications plan can reward your time, patience, and effort and ensure that you launch a successful campaign, program, or service. However, be sure to tailor the steps to achieve the best goals you’re aiming for. Again: this is NOT a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Be sure to take notes if an aspect of the plan does not work out.

Key #7: Monitoring Your Success – Evaluation

Even when your organization has pulled the plan off, it’s just as important to monitor the plan’s effectiveness. Was there a shift in audience or supporters? Were people responding to your community insights? Regardless, marketing is the engine that drives attention and engagement to your brand and values. Marketing measurement tools like Google Analytics, marketing analytics software, and surveys will help you see what works versus what doesn’t in terms of engagement through your marketing efforts.

Are you interested in developing an effective communications plan for your business? Contact PivotPath today to schedule a free consultation to improve your marketing strategy!

gdpr guidelines

Five Big Questions Related to GDPR | What You Need To Know

First things first. We’re not lawyers, and what follows does not constitute legal advice. We have a vested interest in the success of our partnership and want to provide information to collectively aid us through this process.

 Download guide here

Here are five big questions related to GDPR:

  1. What is GDPR?
  2. Does it affect our company or organization?
  3. How does this change the way we collect and store data?
  4. Does this change the way we communicate and market?
  5. How do we get started?

WHAT IS GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

(Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union. The European Commission intends to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). The European Union currently has data protection regulation that determines how personal information can be used by companies, the government, and other organizations. GDPR changes the definition of personal information and how data is obtained and used. Within GDPR, there are 99 articles setting out the rights of individuals to have easier access to the information data companies collect about them. There are also determinations of fines related to non-compliance, and responsibilities for obtaining consent and usage of personal information. This law provides greater transparency, enhanced rights for EU citizens, and increased accountability.

gdpr guidelines

DOES IT AFFECT OUR COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION?

GDPR regulations apply to any company that processes EU consumer data. This is applicable no matter where the company resides or where the servers that collect the data are located. These provisions promote accountability and governance. These measures minimize the risk of breaches and uphold the protection of personal data. Compliance for GDPR does not lay at just the feet of marketers, but in all processes of data storage, collection, and usage. Thus, this will become a boardroom topic if it has not already. Additionally, companies that have “regular and systematic monitoring” of individuals at a large scale or process a lot of sensitive personal data may have to designate a data protection officer (DPO).

 

HOW DOES THIS CHANGE THE WAY WE COLLECT AND STORE DATA?

LAWFULNESS Not everyone that handles the personal data of individuals is the same. GDPR regulation falls within two main categories: controller and processor. A controller is an entity that decides the purpose and manner in which personal data can be used. This is your role. A processor is a person (or team) that processes data on behalf of the controller; and includes obtaining, recording, adapting, or holding personal data. GDPR requirements are different for each. In addition, the controller is responsible for and must demonstrate compliance with GDPR principles.

Bottom line: for data processing to be lawful under GDPR, companies need to identify a lawful basis for processing personal data. Companies also need to be able to document this.

gdpr guidelines

HOW DOES THIS CHANGE THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE AND MARKET?

Most marketers will understand that GDPR is actually a blessing. It forces us to be responsible and better marketers. It also provides our subscribers with exactly what they want. And that’s the way we all should be marketing. Think of this as a new (albeit required) goal to only communicate with those who want to hear from us. Also, to have all data in order which can only build trust and loyalty with subscribers.

HOW CAN WE GET STARTED?

Having a full understanding of GDPR is important, as it may impact a number of facets of your business practices. The place to start is in education. While there is a myriad of articles and resources on the net, we find the information from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Interested in learning more about how to ensure your communications are GDPR compliant? We are here to help.

3 Strategies for Community Recovery in the New Normal

As the Covid-19 pandemic shook the world and forced businesses and cities into lockdown, local economies took a major hit. Tourism, dining, shopping, and community events came to a rapid halt. Finally, communities are just now beginning to shift into the “new normal”. In an evolving market with countless municipalities opening their communities for residents and visitors alike, what truly makes a community stand out? Community recovery post-pandemic can be tricky. Here are three key strategies to aid in the recovery of both municipalities and consumer communities post-pandemic.

Emphasizing Covid-Safety

While businesses are opening their doors and people are slowly beginning to travel again, continued caution is still recommended. If your town was previously a great spot for tourists, you may reclaim that reputation safely by emphasizing the community’s dedication to public safety. This can be done by continuing to offer outdoor dining options, outdoor or well-ventilated social events, and encouraging folks to practice social distancing and mask-wearing behaviors when appropriate. This will put unvaccinated or high-risk people at ease, increasing the chances they will choose to visit your town over others.

 

Promoting Family-Friendly Activities

After a year and a half of lockdowns, families are eager to get out and make new memories together. Coordinating outdoor events and activities will encourage families to explore your town. You may bring the community park back to life with an outdoor concert series. Perhaps showcase the local lake by offering paddleboard rentals. By offering safe but exciting family-fun activities, the likelihood of adventure-seeking families visiting your town will increase.

Showcasing Dining & Shopping Hot Spots

If dining or shopping is your town’s biggest offering, that’s a great way to get consumer attention. In this “new normal”, people are ready for a change of scenery, so a hip new restaurant or trendy downtown shopping area will be happily received. You may offer dining deals through social media or plan an outdoor downtown event promoted by flyers posted around town. Your communities will thank you!

 

 

[Video] A Survival Guide for Municipalities During COVID-19

The past year has welcomed several unprecedented challenges. Towns and cities are among some of the most vulnerable victims to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite these challenges, there are things you can do to help your community thrive. Continue reading this survival guide to ensure that your municipality is doing everything it can to survive these times.

Survival Tip #1: Be communicative.

Two-way communication involves active engagement and responsiveness. To communicate effectively, it’s essential that you listen to each of your stakeholders. Stakeholders act as various operators, including, but not limited to, residents, tourists, local government officials, local law enforcement, and public safety officials. 

Your stakeholders, and the relationships you build with them, are the backbone of your community. Mutually beneficial relationships are built on trust. When you fail to communicate effectively, you promote dishonesty and inauthenticity, which can destroy the trust of your stakeholders. Therefore, it’s important for your community to effectively communicate with each of its stakeholders to build and maintain trustworthy relationships.

Survival Tip #2: Avoid homogeneity. 

Homogeneity is the belief that everyone is the same. It’s common for individuals to resort to homogeneity when assessing their audience. Your communication efforts are sure to fail when you misinterpret all areas of your audience as one and the same. This mistake is heightened for those who operate communities, as they tend to believe that a shared location means shared values and beliefs.

Demographic information isn’t isolated to geographic location but also includes race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and political identity. You can understand your audience on a larger, more in-depth level by assessing all components of demographic information. By avoiding homogeneity, you can shape your communication efforts to include and gain support from all members of your audience. Your audience’s support can help your community withstand the test of time.

Conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis.

A S.W.O.T. analysis assesses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an entity. Many mistakenly believe that this kind of analysis is only applicable to businesses, but a S.W.O.T. analysis is beneficial for anyone looking to develop a plan or strategy, including communities. Conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis can help your community grow in ways that it hasn’t considered before.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal, things that you have some control over and can change. If you follow the two previously mentioned tips, you’re sure to have audience communication as a strength. However, it’s important to understand that the presence of strengths doesn’t make your weaknesses disappear.

Opportunities and threats are external. Typically, there’s little to no control of these factors. You can take advantage of opportunities and protect against threats, but you can’t change them. The COVID-19 pandemic is surely a threat for businesses, non-profit organizations, and communities around the world. However, sometimes threats can present us with opportunities. For example, your community can take this time to strengthen its internal operations by addressing other needs that it’s brushed off. 

Reach out for help.

Survival is difficult as is, but when a force as powerful as COVID-19 is acting against you, it can be difficult to even see survival as an option. Don’t let this scare you! By following this survival guide, you can ensure that your municipality is doing everything it can to thrive during these times. PivotPath understands that implementing change isn’t always easy. Contact us for a free consultation today. Our team of innovative creatives can help your community carry out this survival guide.