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Does Your Talk

Match Your Walk?

Creating a Strategic

Communications Plan

Karen DeBaker

Clean Water Services

April 12, 2013

Strategic Communications Plan

• Definition: communicates a concept, a process or

data that satisfies a long-term strategic goal of an


• Your public information master plan

• Guides day-to-day and long-term communications

• Helps keep messages consistent

• Builds credibility and support for your


• Allows you to be proactive instead of reactive

when conflicts occur

Proactive vs. Reactive

• Example: Rate increases/budget messaging

• Get messages out EARLY instead of

after-the-fact: (BITC meeting)

• Think about top questions you don’t

want to be asked.

• Be specific, open and honest with your


• Surveys have told us folks just want to

know the truth even if it is bad news.


How many of you have a written communications plan?

Plan Elements

1. Inventory of current messages and methods

2. Issues demanding communications support

3. Challenges & Opportunities

4. Audiences: internal and external

5. Message Objectives

6. Key messages

7. Tools & Tactics

Plan Elements: Inventory

• Inventory current messages

and methods

• Repetition/Consistency?

• Website, vehicles, printed

materials, clothing

Plan Elements: Issues

• Issues demanding

communications support

• Internal & external


• Long term & shortterm


Plan Elements:

Challenges and Opportunities

• Challenges

• Fiscal?

• Positioning/Credibility?

• Look into the future

• Opportunities

• Feed off of positive

feedback and accolades

• Credibility partners

• Look into the future

Plan Elements: Audiences

• Audiences

• Internal/Employees

• External




Plan Elements: Objectives

• Message objectives

• Speak to issues



Rate sustainability

• Speak to your

challenges and


Viewed as credible

Plan Elements: Key Messages

• Key messages

• Three or four max

• Easy to understand

• Usable across different

mediums and audiences

• Behavior change, branding,

environmental health

Plan Elements: Tools & Tactics

• Tools & Tactics (the meat)

• Media Relations

News releases, Twitter, website, electronic newsletters

• Government Relations

Privy Counsel, Citizen Advisory Committee, City Managers


• Internal Communication

Briefing Papers, weekly newsletter, intranet

• Behavior Change

Website, Clean Water Hero program, billing inserts, newsletters,

leaf disposal program, Twitter

• Corporate Image

Tours, Speakers Bureau, KUIK ads, annual report, new customer

packets, vehicle murals

• Public Involvement

City Managers meeting, City Technical Committee, public meetings

The Plan

• Distribution

• Intranet

• Present to leaders/

advisory group

• Maintenance

• Update every 3-5 years

• Check back regularly

Thank you

Karen DeBaker

Communications Supervisor

Clean Water Services

(503) 681-3643

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