Public Relations Communications Strategy Template - PDF by hje12949


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									   Probation Board for Northern Ireland
Public Relations & Communications Strategy
                 2005 – 2008

Background                                                             2

Introduction                                                           3

Aim and Objectives                                                     4

Target Audiences                                                       5

Communication Channels                                                 6

Delivery                                                               7

Evaluation & Review                                                    7

Conclusion                                                             8

Footnote                                                               9

Appendices                                                             9

  1. Public Relations & Communications Project Board Outline of Function

  2. Key Messages list & template

  3. Freedom of Information

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The Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) is a body corporate with the status of an
executive Non-Departmental Public Body established under the Probation Board (Northern
Ireland) Order 1982.

It has a number of functions stated in the Order which can be summarised as follows:

      to carry out assessments and provide reports to Courts which are designed to make a
       contribution to the decisions which Magistrates and Judges (Sentencers) make in relation
       to sentencing
      to supervise offenders in the community
      and to have staff who work in prisons providing a range of services.

PBNI is permitted to fund organisations that provide hostels for offenders, and various projects
in the community which address the offending behaviour of offenders who are under Probation


Protect the public by working with the Courts, other Agencies and Partners to reduce re-
         offending and integrate offenders successfully back into the Community.


                         To help reduce crime and the harm it does.


           Achieve excellence in the assessment and management of offenders.

Effective communication is intrinsic to the success of any organisation, especially those dealing
with, and accountable to, the wider community. There must be public awareness of what the
Probation Board does. The Public Relations & Communications Strategy will come from the
recognition that the organisational changes and the external context in which the Probation
Board works significantly increase the need for effective communications.

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This Strategy outlines the communications implications of the organisational changes and offers
effective communication processes (internal and external) to ensure that accurate, timely and
relevant communications occur at all levels and with all stakeholders.

The objectives of any PR & Communications Strategy should be informed and driven by the
overall ‘vision’ and objectives of the organisation. Therefore this Strategy will support the
delivery of PBNI’s aims and objectives as set out in our Corporate Plan 2005 – 2008.

This Strategy is informed by:

   1. The Criminal Justice Review (CJR) report which announced a series of
       recommendations concerned with the modernising of the criminal justice system in
       Northern Ireland, and the subsequent Oversight Commissioner’s reports. These place
       responsibility on PBNI and the criminal justice agencies in the arena of public information
       towards developing greater public understanding and accountability.

   2. The 2004 Corporate Consultation process which incorporated seeking the views of staff,
       stakeholders and the public. The feedback from this process which relates to the PR &
       Communications Strategy can be summed up in the following statements;

       ‘we should publicise and be more open and informative about the work we do’

       ‘Programmes, especially community service, should be publicised and enhanced across
       Northern Ireland’

       ‘we need to improve internal and external communications’

   3. The Board’s Equality Scheme which demonstrates commitment to ensuring effective and
       accessible information to the public in a way which ensures equality of opportunity.

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The aim of the Public Relations & Communications Strategy is to ensure that PBNI
communicates effectively with all of its stakeholders.

The objectives of the Public Relations (PR) & Communications Strategy are:

   1. To communicate effectively with the public, staff, and other identified stakeholders.

   2. To raise awareness of PBNI’s work through improved communication with and
      availability of information to the public, staff and other identified stakeholders

   3. To increase confidence in PBNI’s work and in the wider criminal justice system through
      improved communication with and availability of information to the public, stakeholders
      and the media.

   4. To deliver information via the NI curriculum in secondary and tertiary education,
      publications and the website in order to actively recruit potential staff.

   5. To increase capacity within PBNI to publicly represent the organisation.

   6. To consult with stakeholders and the groups which represent the 9 categories of
      difference as defined in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, on our policies and
      how we deliver our services.

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Target Audiences
Whilst the specific communication message and vehicle(s) used will inevitably vary according to
audience, PBNI must ensure consistency in its top-level core messages which are disseminated
to all stakeholders. The Probation Board has many stakeholders and the key groups making up
PBNI’s audience can be categorised as internal and external and listed as follows;


Board Members

Northern Ireland Office
General public
Public representatives (MLA’s, MP’s, Councillors)
Local communities
Voluntary sector
Partner organisations
Criminal Justice Agencies (NI Prison Service, Police Service NI, NI Courts Service, Public
Prosecution Service, Youth Justice Agency, Forensic Science NI)
Trade Unions/Professional Associations
Groups which represent the 9 categories of difference as defined in Section 75 of the Northern
Ireland Act 1998.

Each target audience has different communications needs, some specific and others more
strategic. It is important to identify communication channels through which PBNI can provide
information and enter into dialogue with stakeholders. These channels will form the basis for
delivering on the PR & Communications Strategy Objectives.

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Communication Channels
      Consultation
Public consultation exercises are a key source of information to the public in the areas of policy
development, business practice and PBNI’s commitment to the Equality Scheme. The Public
Relations & Communications Officer has a key role to play in this process and consultation will
be a useful tool towards measuring the success of communications activity.

      Media Relations
In our relationship with the media there is a clear need to move from a largely reactive approach
to one which is more pro-active. The development of both core messages and a robust and
‘living’ issues management file are fundamental to this change in approach.

News releases, photo opportunities and briefings will be tied into identified events in the PBNI
calendar e.g. launch events, partnership working and published research.

In the planning of any events or publicity consideration will be given to ensuring that venues
and/or information do not exclude certain groups.

      Key Messages
How do we get our message across? Public Relations has been defined as ‘the planned
attempt to influence what people know and think about, and how they behave towards, a
company, organisation, product, service or cause’. Perhaps the most straightforward and
meaningful definition is that public relations is about creating understanding – genuine two-
way understanding and this definition implies two-way communication.

To this end and to underpin this Strategy a collection of Key Messages (see Appendix 2 for
template) is being developed. These will be made available in alternative formats depending on
the target audience or on request.

      Website
The PBNI website is a central communication channel for all audiences and
will continue to be developed beyond the initial redesign in 2005.

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      Grapevine
Grapevine is the internal newsletter published three times per year and circulated to every
member of staff. Grapevine forms the basis of two-way communication between staff in the

      Corporate Information
Corporate Information includes the Corporate & Business Plan, Annual Report, policies and
functions meeting PBNI’s Section 75 commitment and leaflets/directories. The information will
be circulated to a wide range of organisations and individuals who collectively represent PBNI’s
stakeholders to keep them up to date on strategic, performance and operational developments
and practice.

A Public Relations & Communications Officer was appointed in March 2004 and in November
2004 a Public Relations & Communications Project Board (see Appendix 1 for Outline of
Function) was established to oversee (inform and advise) the development and implementation
of the PR & Communications Strategy and key activities associated with public relations and

A rolling annual Public Relations & Communications Action Plan will be developed from this
Strategy. Specific targets of activity and achievement will ensure PBNI reaches its target
audiences via the identified communication channels.

A budget for delivery of the PR & Communications Strategy is as outlined in the annual PBNI

Evaluation & Review

A Review of the Strategy will commence according to the Outline of Function for the PR &
Communications Project Board, and not before March 2006.

The PR & Communications Officer will review each activity arising from the Strategy on an
ongoing basis. Media monitoring will continue via the use of a clippings agency and this will be

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useful in determining levels and type of media coverage gained as a result of public relations

It is recommended that the Corporate Planning consultation process and
Sentencer/offender/staff surveys be utilised to monitor attitudes and response to PR &
Communications activity. Monitoring of groups will comply with the Monitoring Strategy.

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The Public Relations & Communications Strategy 2005 – 2008 is aligned with PBNI’s Corporate
Plan 2005 – 2008 and will develop with the roll out of that plan. This Strategy document has
outlined the priorities for the three year period which will be translated into annual Action Plans.

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The development of this strategy will continue in tandem with the central work undertaken by
the Public Information Working Group.

• The Public Information Working Group is a sub-group of the Criminal Justice Board set up to
take forward a public education and information strategy for the criminal justice system. All the
criminal justice agencies are represented on this group.


   1. Public Relations & Communications Project Board Outline of Function

Name: Public Relations & Communications Project Board (PB).

Chairperson: Formerly the Chief Executive and now to be decided

Purpose: To inform and advise the Public Relations & Communications Officer in the
development of the Public Relations & Communications Strategy.

Timeframes, Reporting and Deadlines: The PB was set up in November 2004 and meets on
a regular basis. The Project Board will continue to meet until the Public Relations &
Communications Strategy has been approved and implemented. At such point, and not before
March 2006, the Project Board will be reviewed.

Composition: The number of officers on the PB stands at 15, to include the Chairperson, made
up of a cross-section of corporate and operational grades from within the organisation. Senior
Managers can attend the PB or delegate this to a member of their team.

Specific Areas of Responsibility: The Project Board was set up to oversee (inform and
advise) the development and implementation of the Public Relations & Communication Strategy
and key activities associated with public relations and communications. Reports to the PB
come in the main from the PR & Communications Officer who is responsible for the
development and implementation of the strategy.

Review date: The Project Board’s Outline of Function should be approved in conjunction with
the PR & Communications Strategy at the Probation Board meeting on 20 May 2005. The PB
will review its role and existence not earlier than March 2006.

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   2. Key messages list & template

Key Messages

   1. The role of PBNI in the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System

   2. The role of PBNI in prisons

   3. The role of PBNI in supervising sex offenders

   4. The role of PBNI in supervising young people

   5. The role of PBNI in addressing car crime

   6. The role of PBNI in addressing domestic violence

   7. PBNI’s views on drugs

   8. PBNI’s views on alcohol

   9. The role of PBNI in accommodation and hostels

Key Messages Template

   1. Prevalence in Northern Ireland/Context

   2. PBNI Activity (who/what/where/why/how)

   3. Evidence/effectiveness of PBNI activity (stats)

e.g; Numbers supervised, Number of reports written, re-offending rates

   4. Key statements (messages to communicate irrespective of question)

      The aim of PBNI is to reduce crime and the harm it does
      PBNI’s number one priority is protection of the public
      PBNI prepare reports to assist sentencers and supervise offenders in the community
      The Probation Board is tasked by the Courts and the Life Sentence Commission to carry
       out the supervision of persons within the community with the aim of contributing to public
       safety by helping to prevent re-offending.

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   3. Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information Guidance suggests that the following elements need to be built into an
external communication strategy re; information (FOI). It is intended that these elements are
integral to the Strategy above.

      proactively release information that is likely to be requested - publication scheme,
       website, simultaneous release of information following an FOI request/press enquiries.
      publicise information that is already available - publication scheme, website
      publish and publicise policy on releasing information.

Board Approved                     20/5/05                                                      12

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