Corporate communications strategy for 2008 to 2009

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					Corporate communications
strategy for 2008 to 2009

1 Executive summary                                       3 The vision
Effective corporate communications will build the         The corporate plan for 2005-2008 sets key drivers
reputation of Portsmouth City Council through             for improvement with 20 key priorities. Key Priority
trusted, timely, high quality information to residents,   18 specifically targets improved communication with
businesses, voluntary groups and stakeholders.            both staff and residents. Some of the priority actions
                                                          that are in progress to achieve this target are:
The primary function of the corporate
communications team over the next two years will          • Develop new branding and communications
be to provide a full marketing communications               strategies
service to the city council covering media relations,
                                                          • Continue to improve frequency and focus of
service and corporate marketing, design, internal
                                                            Flagship and other council communications
communications and consultation.
                                                          • Launch a new approach to internal communications,
The major outputs for the Corporate Communications
                                                            including a new and dynamic intranet, staff
Team in 2008/9 are listed in the attached work plan.
                                                            magazine and Key Communicator Network

2 Purpose                                                 The vision for Portsmouth City Council relies upon
                                                          excellent communications.
The focus of this strategy is on corporate
communications; that is communication about the           • Customer focus – through finding out what our
services and outcomes of Portsmouth City Council            customers need and expect; providing services
to the public, our own staff, business community,           that meet those needs and expectations and
stakeholders and the media.                                 ensuring our services are equally accessible to all.

The strategy aims to:                                     • Community leadership – to achieve Portsmouth
                                                            people’s priorities, we will provide leadership in
• Define our approach to corporate                          improving the well-being of the city; work in
  communications                                            partnership with others involved in the life of the
• Identify existing areas of weakness to be                 city; help communities to meet local needs and
  improved upon                                             keep customers informed of what we are doing
• Define a work plan to continuously improve              • Values – we will strive for quality and value for
  corporate communications                                  money through involvement of our staff; be an
                                                            equal opportunity employer and develop a highly
                                                            motivated and trained workforce; set and meet
                                                            challenging targets for continuous improvement
                                                            and innovate and pilot new ideas and
                                                          This strategy embraces the corporate vision and is
                                                          ambitious and challenging in its aims to make a real
                                                          and measurable difference to communications.
4 Background
The council is subject to a wide range of inspections       The IDeA suggested areas that needed to be tackled
from government bodies to find out how the local            and some of these are aligned with improving
authority is performing. The Moving Towards                 external communications:
Excellence (MTE) review in 2004/5 undertook an
                                                            • Confidence and style – the renaissance of
internal assessment of how the council was structured
                                                              Portsmouth is evident in some of its flagship
with the overall aim to enable the local authority to
                                                              developments. However, the current image is
deliver excellent services to its customers. In addition,
                                                              coloured by negative publicity. The council needs
independent reviews of services provide feedback
                                                              to do more to celebrate its successes and to
on performance and advice on best practice.
                                                              promote itself positively. A good organisation
The corporate communications function has been                isn’t afraid to say, “we’ve done this well”
reviewed through these assessments and the key
                                                            • Residents feel communicated with but not
findings of weaknesses in corporate communications
                                                              listened to
were largely addressed in the 2006-2007 strategies
for internal and external communications.                   • The council does not actively manage its reputation;
                                                              as a consequence residents’ perceptions are low
The primary focus has been on:
                                                            • External communications are reactive rather than
• Appropriate external communication specifically
  targeted at residents and businesses in the city,
  including an improved website, Flagship                   • Residents that IDeA spoke to were all familiar with
  magazine and an A-Z of services                             ‘Flagship’, the corporate magazine. However the
                                                              poor external press that the council receives has
• Robust media management and evaluation providing
                                                              made residents sceptical about the good messages
  positive publicity for the council and Portsmouth
                                                              in Flagship. Quote from a resident – “the council
  in regional, national media and trade press
                                                              needs to be more honest about things – if things
• Improved internal communications                            are not working we want to know”
Worthy of reflection is the feedback from the               • The IDeA team felt that communications (both
Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) who                 internal and external) lacked momentum and
were invited to Portsmouth City Council as part of            visibility. However, they recognised that the
the National Local Government Improvement                     restructured communications team will be better
Programme (LGIP) of assessments of local authorities.         placed to address corporate communication
Benchmarking assessments are designed to help an
                                                            • The IDeA team recommended that the council’s
authority asses its current achievements and its
                                                              focus on external communications should be
capacity to change and provide a clear improved
                                                              accelerated to deliver ‘quick wins’ ahead of the
programme. The basis for the assessment is a
                                                              development of an overall communication strategy.
specially constructed benchmark of the ideal, fully
                                                              Build a good relationship with the local and national
effective local authority.
                                                              press to help change the image of Portsmouth
                                                            • The IDeA team recognised that one of the city’s
                                                              strengths is that Portsmouth has a strong local
                                                              identity connected to its “island” status. However
                                                              the vision to develop Portsmouth as a vibrant
                                                              waterfront city needs to be informed by a wider
                                                            • The IDeA reported that councillors seem to be
                                                              responding to a daily adversarial press by
                                                              concentrating on relatively short-term agendas
                                                            The IDeA recommendations were key in the action
                                                            planning for 2006/7 and remain the focus for the
                                                            continuous improvement in corporate
                                                            communications through to 2009.
5 Target audiences                                            6 Objectives
The corporate communications function exists to serve         The objectives of the corporate communications
the groups of people that come in to contact with             function are to ensure:
Portsmouth City Council, as the local authority responsible
                                                              • Effective communications through strategic direction
for those who live in, work in or visit Portsmouth.
                                                                – through consultation, operational planning and
• Resident audiences want information that allows them          maintaining a strong and consistent corporate brand
  to access council services; to be kept updated on
                                                              • Positive media coverage – through delivering smart,
  council activities and to see an explanation of council
                                                                targeted media coverage that builds reputation,
  policies included in media reports about Portsmouth
                                                                assists in driving up advocacy and informed ratings
• Council staff need information about the                      and ensures effective partnership working
  organisation they work for over and above the
                                                              • Improved information – through accessible
  information about their individual services
                                                                information in relevant formats, distribution to
• Elected members need to understand the needs of               target audiences and ‘on message’
  the community through consultation and feedback
                                                              • Developing and delivering effective internal
  to give an understanding of the social, economic
                                                                communications – through targeted staff
  and environmental challenges to develop the
                                                                communication, publications and networks to better
  ambitions for the council services and activities
                                                                inform staff to enable them to act as ambassadors,
• Businesses want information about council services            thereby aiding customer satisfaction and organisation
  and will seek to be kept informed about policies that         reputation
  impact on their business activities, travel and parking
                                                              • Return on investment - through continuous
• Local communities rely on a two-way process of                improvements in services, Advertising Equivalent
  informing then listening, consulting and taking               Value, income generation through advertising
  action on feedback received. Connecting with                  revenue and cost savings made through efficient
  communities is not just about telling. Good                   communications methods and the internal graphic
  community cohesion will have a direct impact on               design service.
  improving the council’s overall satisfaction rating
• Visitors to the city need information about the
  tourist sites, accommodation, business services and
  academic facilities. They look for clear directions
  around the city and will use many of the council’s
  services and facilities
• Government expects delivery of its chosen priorities
  through a council that is responsive to the range
  and complexity of service user needs and provides
  for greater choice in planning for these
• Stakeholders and partners have influential views
  about our services and facilities and can act as
  ambassadors or assassins to the council’s reputation
  within the community
The Corporate Communications Team therefore provides
key communication and public information that
explains policy decisions and manages the council’s
reputation and brand. The council also has a statutory
responsibility to provide certain information including
the Council Tax and the annual Performance Plan.
7 Action, implementation and monitoring
Action                                                         • Improvement in e-communication and the
                                                                 corporate website. There are substantial savings
To ensure an effective corporate communications
                                                                 to be made by increasing access to information
function, a work plan framework is needed to set
                                                                 through electronic publishing, saving on printed
key activity against a realistic timescale. It will also set
                                                                 production costs. A web strategy building upon
measures to monitor how effectively the function is
                                                                 customer services, communications and web
working corporately, with its partners, and to improve
                                                                 infrastructure will be a primary objective over the
services to deliver improved outcomes across the
                                                                 next two years.
organisation for the people of Portsmouth. This
framework is outlined below.                                   • Management of internal communications and
                                                                 delivering key information to staff across the council
                                                                 through internal communications channels, Link
Two years ago the council’s communications function              and the Intranet.
was disjointed and only a few of the directorates had
professional communications staff involved in a variety
of tasks and strategies. The creation of the corporate         Measurement of the corporate communications team’s
communications team has enabled a reorganisation of            performance is linked to the yearly activities mapped
the communications function making it corporate and            out within operational planners. Evaluation is a key
holistic.                                                      component of the work process and aims to identify
                                                               the impact of the communication outputs. The
The remit of corporate communications is:
                                                               Newsflash software plays an integral part in this and
• Providing communications advice to departments               performance indicators provide transparent
  and executive members around media relations,                performance analysis.
  communications strategies and publications.
  Undertaking daily analysis of the communications
  position of the authority
• Brand management – ensuring that corporate
  identity standards are clear and followed. Providing
  consultancy advice and delivery for corporate
  publications, safeguarding against inappropriate
  materials that will fail to represent the council to its
  best advantage
• Campaign management – providing expertise to
  support major campaigns or projects for each
• Proactive media relations – covering a daily news
  service and an out-of-hours emergency response.
  This is about setting the news agenda not just
  waiting to react.
• Media monitoring and evaluation – through the
  Newsflash media management software media
  output is monitored and evaluated.
• Graphic design and print advice now secures
  corporate cost savings and strengthens the corporate
  identity and customer recognition of services.
• Production of core corporate publications
  including Flagship, TERM Times, an A – Z directory
  of council services and council tax communications
Themes and outputs for 2008/9
This activity will help to develop, drive and implement                       This communications plan strives to ensure that staff,
the city council’s operational communications, ensuring                       residents, businesses and stakeholders are well
that Portsmouth City Council has effective internal and                       informed about Portsmouth City Council’s services
external communications combined with successful                              and achievements.
marketing communications and brand management.

Effective communications through strategic direction
Main outputs             Purpose                     Evidence to date         Priority actions            Timescale     Evaluation
Developing and           The corporate identity      New corporate            A branding audit            February     To ensure that all
maintaining a strong     is the council’s            identity standards       to identify all non-        2008         council publications
and consistent           character and identity      are being launched       core logos, strap                        and e-communications
corporate identity       and is something            in January 08.           lines and designs.                       are designed fit for
                         that people can                                                                               purpose, advising
                         form an emotional                                    Launch branding             January 2008 services on the corporate
                         relationship with.                                   standards                                standards and ensuring
                                                                              Enhance a corporate         January 2008 a correct council–wide
                                                                              style to all publications   and ongoing application of the
                                                                              and materials                            corporate identity and
                                                                                                                       image ensuring greater
                                                                              Working with City           April 2008   public recognition of
                                                                              Brand Manager                            the services on offer.
                                                                              support an emerging
                                                                              city council and city
                                                                              brand strategy
Improve operational      Ensures that                Regular updating         Ensure that proactive       Ongoing       Corporate
activity through the     the corporate               of the operational       planning for                              communications is
use of operational       communications              planners in              campaigns, projects                       responsive to the
planners across          function is working         consultation with        and issues become                         range and complexity
services                 closely with each           service colleagues,      a standard activity                       of service needs and
                         service supporting the      ensuring a transparent   in the team                               is judged as providing
                         city council’s priorities   service offer                                                      an effective service
                         and objectives
Customers and            Effective engagement        Polls by CHD are run     To drive the                June 2008     Feedback is collected
partners are regularly   mechanisms help in          4 times a year which     research, creation,                       that is statistically
consulted on quality     understanding the           underpins feedback       development and                           viable and informs
of information and       views, needs, desires       and communication        analysis of imaginative                   and improves
performance in           and preferences of          in Flagship              communication                             communications
communicating with       key audiences                                        strategies and
appropriate feed back                                                         campaigns across
on ‘you said we did’                                                          services and
                                                                              Feedback on                 On-going
                                                                              Flagship to local
                                                                              residents through
                                                                              ‘you said we did’
Create bespoke           Ensures that                Bespoke                  Through feedback            June 2008     Feedback is received
communications           the corporate               communication            surveys                                   that indicates customer
strategies in support    communications              strategies have                                                    satisfaction and
of organisation          function is working         been created on                                                    target audiences feel
projects, campaigns      closely with each           a standardised                                                     that they are being
and issues               area of priority            document template                                                  better informed
                                                     across a wide range
                                                     of issues and projects
Positive media coverage
Main outputs             Purpose                    Evidence to date         Priority actions        Timescale      Evaluation
Manage media             To deliver smart,          Better evaluation        Ensure all written      Ongoing        Reactive media responses
relations effectively    targeted media             of media activity        work and verbal                        are reduced and the
                         coverage that assists      through the new          briefings contain key                  public feels better
                         in driving up advocacy     Newsflash software       strategic messages                     informed by coverage
                         and informed ratings                                Increase the number     Performance    in local, regional
                                                                             of proactive media      indicators     and national press
                                                                             hits with media
                                                                             and trade press
                                                                             Increase the breadth    Performance
                                                                             and scope of            indicators
                                                                             Portsmouth’s media
                                                                             relations with a
                                                                             target of 3 new
                                                                             outlets per month
                                                                             Rebut 60% of negative Performance
                                                                             and damaging material indicators
                                                                             published about the
                                                                             City Council through
                                                                             letters, quotes and
                                                                             broadcast interviews
                                                                             Achieve 85% positive    Performance
                                                                             or neutral media        indicators
                                                                             coverage as assessed
                                                                             by using Newsflash
Management of            To ensure effective    Established with 4           Establishment of       Ongoing         Increased profile of
the Portsmouth           partner networks       meetings a year              a communications                       PCC and a closer
Communicator             help to improve                                     community, where                       communications
Network                  communications                                      important messages                     network across both
                         channels to the people                              can be shared and                      public and private
                         of Portsmouth                                       disseminated resulting                 sector organisations
                                                                             in a better informed
                                                                             Portsmouth population
Maintain the             Key council services       A 24hr 365 day           Communication to     Ongoing           100% response to media
emergency out of         are supported              service has been         key partners the                       enquiries is achieved
hours media service      outside standard           established through      out of hours mobile
                         hours of working           a rota                   telephone number and
                                                                             operate and advice
                                                                             and action line
Media briefings with     To ensure that proactive   Consultation with        Communication to        Performance    Reactive media
the local media          media opportunities        local media to           key media ensuring      indicators     management is reduced
                         are created and that       consider their needs     important messages                     with an improvement
                         the local media is         and aspirations for      can be disseminated,                   in proactive media
                         kept well informed         media briefings          resulting in a better                  opportunities
                         of issues, projects                                 informed Portsmouth
                         and campaigns                                       population
To proactively advise    To ensure that key         Member training has      Communication to        Customer       Officers and members
chief officers, senior   officers are trained to    taken place, involving   key media ensuring      and delegate   are proactive and
officers and elected     ensure that proactive      local journalists.       important messages      feedback       confident in media
members on media         and reactive media                                  can be disseminated,                   interviews
issues, providing        opportunities are                                   resulting in a better
training, coaching       well managed                                        informed Portsmouth
and mentoring                                                                population
where necessary
Support media            To improve media           Better evaluation         Produce management        Ongoing       Media activity and
management through       management in              of media activity         performance reports                     outcomes can be
the Newsflash media      a consistent way           through the new           to senior officers                      measured monitoring
management software      across the corporate       Newsflash software        on communications                       the tone of media
                         communications                                       activities                              coverage, advertising
                         team with better                                                                             equivalent values and
                         evaluation of activity                                                                       individual officer output
                         and outcomes
Conduct an annual        Information gathered       Building on the           City Help Desk will       July 2008     Media activity can be
residents ‘media         is converted in to         knowledge of              conduct a statistically                 better targeted and polls
preferences/             good intelligence          customer media            relevant telephone                      will be conducted to
trust’ survey            that determines the        preferences, which is     survey. A short                         investigate if customers
                         local picture of media     particularly important    questionnaire will be                   feel better informed
                         awareness, indicating      when communicating        created which is easily
                         which newspapers           in a crisis               understood and can
                         are read , what radio                                be quickly analysed
                         stations are listened                                Outcomes will create a August 2008
                         to and what news TV                                  weighting evaluation
                         channels are watched                                 for the communications
                                                                              channels that are
                                                                              relevant to our
                                                                              customers allowing
                                                                              better targeting
                                                                              of messages

Improved information
Main outputs             Purpose                    Evidence to date          Priority actions          Timescale     Evaluation
To manage and lead       Key council services       The website won           A strategic review of   August 2008     User rates increase
on the continuous        are supported outside      a HantsNet award          the website is needed                   and polls indicate
development of the       standard hours of          in 2006 and was           to create a more formal                 an improvement in
corporate website        working via the            commended in 2007         role for corporate                      content and style
                         internet. The website      but lacks strategic       communications in
                         is to ensure integrated,   direction in its design   content management
                         accessible information     and accessibility, and    and consultation
                         for customers              fails in many areas to
                         and partners               represent information
                                                    in plain English
To manage and lead       To drive and               Review of customer        A continuous review       January 2009 User rates increase
on the continuous        implement a                feedback and              of the intranet                        and polls indicate
development of           robust internal            content requests          is needed and                          an improvement in
the staff intranet       communications                                       consultation with staff                content and style
Consolidate the          To ensure the              Around 32 websites        Through the strategic     December      Fewer council services
number of websites       accessibility of           representing PCC          Web Board review the      2009          seek to set up their
that represent           information in             have been identified.     needs of customers                      own bespoke website
Portsmouth               one branded e-                                       for e-communications                    and services champion
City Council             communication                                        and online                              cause to join up to
                         channel                                              applications seeking                    the corporate
                                                                              to rationalise the
                                                                              number of websites.
Increase the number     A well produced and         Funding from public       Secure sponsorship        June 2008     Reader polls show
of editions of Flagship efficiently distributed     sector organisations      funding for the 4th,                    increased satisfaction
from 3 to 6 a year      regular council             has been secured.         5th and 6th editions                    with Flagship
                        magazine is a cost          An increase in
                        effective way of            advertising is needed
                        getting key messages        to be able to deliver
                        across to residents         this requirement
                        and other users
Develop and deliver effective internal communications
Main outputs             Purpose                   Evidence to date         Priority actions          Timescale    Evaluation
Consolidate              Good internal             The Key                  Liaison with managers     April 2008   Feedback is received
good internal            communications based      Communicator             to ensure the                          that indicates staff feel
communications with      on honest and open        Network concept has      outcomes of good                       that they are being
a toolkit for managers   dialogue helps to         failed to deliver the    communications                         better informed
                         deliver better services   expected outcomes.       are achieved to suit
                         with employees acting     The emphasis now is      service needs
                         as ambassadors            on managers acting as
                                                   key communicators,
                                                   and providing them
                                                   with necessary
                                                   tools and skills.
Evaluate the             Good internal             Questionnaire has        Evaluation will           December     Feedback is received
effectiveness of         communications based      actioned readers         provide information       2008         that indicates staff feel
Link through             on honest and open        suggestions about        for the continuous                     that they are being
questionnaires and       dialogue helps to         design and content       evolvement of Link                     better informed
focus groups             deliver better services   and continuous
                         with employees acting     feedback is received
                         as ambassadors            through the Link inbox

Return on Investment
Main outputs             Purpose                   Evidence to date         Priority actions          Timescale    Evaluation
Savings to corporate     Effective design      The graphic designer         Consultancy advice to     Ongoing      Marked cost
expenditure through      and innovative print  has achieved funding         directorates on their                  savings made to
effective corporate      solutions will create requirements to date         design needs bringing                  the organisations
graphic design           tangible improvements                              work in house that                     operational budget
                         to the organisations                               would have been
                         publications and                                   carried out by external
                         printed materials                                  agencies, resulting
                                                                            in major cost savings
                                                                            to the organisation
Annexe One: Performance indicators for external communications activity
There are 15 local performance indicators to help
the corporate communications team to measure
performance month on month and year on year.

Performance Indicator                                                           How often     Target set
1                Number of media enquiries received                             Per month     30
2                Speed of response to general enquiries                         Per month     8 working hours
3                % of responses made on time when reporters set a deadline*     Per month     100%
4                Number of news releases written                                Per month     30
5                Number of broadcasts arranged/initiated by the Comms team      Per month     15
6                Number of proactive articles published in trade press          Per month     5
7                Number of proactive articles published in national press       Per year      5
8                % of news releases written that are covered in local media     Monthly       90 %
9                % of coverage in The News with a positive tone **              Monthly       60% positive
10               % of coverage in The News with a neutral tone                  Monthly       25% neutral
11               % of coverage in The News with a negative tone                 Monthly       15% negative
12               % of high prominence articles from local media releases        Monthly       50%
13               Proactive media briefing sessions                              Per year      12
14               Correcting factually inaccurate reporting with rebuttals       Per month     80% ***
15               Speed of reply to complaints about the service provided        Per month     3 working days
* Newsflash software will now monitor our response times and that of our Directorate colleagues
** Tone reflects the style of reporting, not the factual, operational detail
*** Political steer requested

                                     Document No 0067-Z-CPT-CF-03-08 Produced March 2008

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