All organizations engage in communications at every level. All organizations are established by and known by their communications. A public child welfare agency does not need Communications in order for the agency to communicate as communication happens naturally in organizations. The staff of public child welfare agencies – as is true for any other agency– engages in communication throughout the course of their practice with other professionals as well as with families, youth and children served and throughout the course of conducting their functions. But a public child welfare agency does need Communications to help the agency communicate more effectively -- which is to communicate in a manner that supports the agency in achieving its goals. From an organizational perspective, communicating "effectively" can only be defined relative to the goals of the organization. Effective communication is communication that helps the agency achieve its goals.
The master communications plan is predicated on the agency’s overarching strategic plan. Accordingly, the work of Communications should be an outgrowth of this strategic plan and particularly the goals detailed in that plan set by the agency leadership. The goals of the master communications plan should not be determined solely by Communications but by the entire senior leadership. Communications should make sure that the goals of the agency are fully reflected in the communications plan and that agency leaders are fully aware of and invested in the plan.
The importance of Communications -- as guided by the master communications plan -- is readily apparent in the context of the agency's values, purpose, mission and goals. The plan ensures that these values are articulated and that agency communications efforts can be measured, evaluated and modified.
Communications is easily pulled in many directions. Media inquiries, suggestions from other agency leaders and staff and other ad hoc activities can become all-consuming. Having a strategic communications plan helps ensure that an appropriate amount of time and resources are expended on communications activities designed to support the agency in attaining its important strategic goals. The strategic communications plan keeps Communications on task and agency leadership aware of Communications’ priority tasks.
This section is devoted to strategic communications planning conducted to assist the public child welfare agency achieve its goals. Not all agencies have a communications office, but all agencies have an administrative capacity that serves in a leadership role, which is exercised through a myriad of communicative actions. Accordingly, this section will refer to the communications function (Communications) as that dedicated resource within the agency administration devoted to assisting in this leadership role.
The elements of a master communications plan include:
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