Every successful communications campaign is rooted in sound planning. Based on our almost 20 years of experience, public opinion data and in-depth evaluations, we know that simply producing a pamphlet or a website for the “general public” is not the best way to reach communications goals. Like any fundraising, policy or research initiative, communications campaigns require thoughtful planning, specific qualitative and quantitative goals and evaluation measures.
Bluestem Communications encourages organizations to develop comprehensive communications strategies that are tailored to specific goals. We provide planning services for individual organizations and coalitions to create sound and successful strategies. Our communications strategy services include:
- Facilitating logic model-based planning sessions where we help clients define their long- and short-term goals, identify who they need to reach in order to achieve those goals (i.e. their target audiences) and work backwards from there to design communications materials and activities that will reach and move those audiences.
- Incorporating public opinion research into the planning process to refine target audiences, develop values-based messages and identify the best messengers and pathways (e.g. newspapers, public radio) to reach those audiences.
- Producing comprehensive reports that outline our recommended communications strategy, which integrate the results of the two tasks mentioned above. These reports can be used to guide communications campaign implementation or to seek funds for implementation.
- Evaluating strategies during and after implementation to stay current, adapt to audience responses and stay on target to reach pre-determined goals.
The goal of a communications strategy is to motivate a target audience to take some action or change their behavior. Behavior change campaigns are not about simply educating an audience, although education is usually a component of the campaign. In reality, educating people about an environmental issue seldom leads to behavior changes. In order for people to make real, lasting behavior changes, we must appeal to their values and beliefs and remove the barriers that might prevent them from making a change or supporting an issue.
Stormwater Education Campaign Strategy
The city of Dublin, Ohio, has been one of the fastest growing communities in central Ohio since the 1980s. Its strategic location near Columbus, beautiful natural features like waterfalls and ravines, rolling farmland and historic downtown create a community that is both welcoming to guests and comforting to residents. City planners work to maintain this quality of life by proactively updating services and educating their citizens on important environmental issues.
Bluestem Communications worked with Dublin city managers to plan communications campaigns to reduce stormwater pollution in compliance with EPA standards. Together we designed subject- and audience-specific campaign strategies to motivate residents to change stormwater-related behaviors. Campaigns targeted leaf disposal, fertilizer runoff from lawns, watering and sprinkler use and rain barrels. Using background research, public opinion surveys, and focus groups, we created a communications roadmap for each targeted behavior change.