Why a Values-Based Approach?
If you are promoting a social objective, and targeting a potentially diverse stakeholder group, you need a values-based approach. This is about understanding who your actual ‘and’ potential stakeholders are.
As practitioners or campaigners, it is hard to find the time to evaluate stakeholder needs and values. We are often time-poor. As a result, we can assume our stakeholders or supporters are a certain ‘type’. We often design our communications as though our audiences will be the same.
Potential stakeholders can be surprisingly diverse, particularly when you are communicating social objectives. They are more likely to assume a ‘type’ based on shared values than other categorisations you may use.
Stakeholders often engage with a social issue at different levels of understanding. Lack of response may reflect a lack of information, or a different communication need at that point in time.
A values-based communication approach is therefore uniquely centred on stakeholders and how we can tailor and evaluate communications.
Front and centre to all our strategies is the need to increase stakeholder support or commitment to organisational objectives.
Who Will Benefit?
Anyone looking for social impact could benefit from values-based communication and engagement services. This includes:
- Local Governments
- Businesses (CSR)
- Community associations
- Non profits
- Non Governmental Organisations
- Advocacy groups
- Social or political campaigns
- Social enterprises
- International development organisations
- Charitable and philanthropic entities
Consulting and / or Training
I offer two types of services: Direct consulting with drafting of communications / evaluation products; or staff training. The best solution depends on the organisation’s objectives and needs, or the problem.
A single campaign may benefit from a specialised communications and engagement plan. However, a tailored training package may be beneficial for key organisational staff involved in ongoing communications and engagement. Staff training would typically include the workshopping of one or two communication and evaluation products as discussed with the organisation. Training can be particularly effective if you have limited resources and want to ‘upskill’.
Decisions around consulting or training sessions can be made over an introductory meeting and cup of coffee!
I have expertise in research and evaluate needs in consultation with organisations. Products may include:
- Beneficiary, potential supporter and community profiles
- Collating organisational data on existing practices
- Trouble shooting a stakeholder or supporter problem
- Review of existing research around a community sector
Communications / Campaign Products
I specialise in tailor-made communications or campaign plans. This may also include content writing.
This will depend on the type of communications your organisation uses and the sector you operate within. This commonly includes:
- Mission statements
- Reports (policy, government/funding, enquiry, etc)
- Media releases
- Beneficiary storytelling
- CEO or director storytelling (e.g. in Annual reports)
- Grant writing
Staff training can include workshopping one or two products to match stakeholder-organisational values and objectives.
Engagement / Evaluation Products
Stakeholder engagement strategy involves reconciling key organisational objectives with the values and motivations of those we are communicating with. For example, is your organisation trying to widen or deepen a support base, or reframing an image to attract a new type of stakeholder? That’s where we start.
However, we can only know stakeholder motivations and values when we ‘ask’ the right questions. Stakeholders may act very differently in response to your ‘calls to action’.
Values-based communications is about assessing the ‘movement’ in stakeholder commitment (not only a single action) to assist organisations secure ongoing commitment. It also involves differentiating between stakeholder groups to ensure effective tailoring of communications and follow-up.
Evaluation products are designed to reveal stakeholder identities, motivations and values that impact likely responses and actions. They include:
- Stakeholder surveys for input to communication design
- Stakeholder surveys to evaluate effectiveness of campaigns / communications
- Stakeholder surveys for an organisational health check
These products can be used in training packages. Staff are taught principles around the design of values based surveys and how to pattern match response to identify different supporter / stakeholder groups.
If you have a communications or engagement need you think I can help with, not listed here, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss.
I am a Queensland-based communication and stakeholder engagement specialist, as well as proud mum of three, wife, writer, speaker, teacher/academic.
I have always loved working with words and using information to reach the right audience with the right message – particularly for social impact and change. In earlier career days I developed my skills as a foreign policy adviser and diplomat, owner of a copywriting business, and campaigner and media / speechwriter for politicians.
In 2015, I decided to enrol in a PhD to research stakeholder engagement and communications used in advocacy campaigns, with people seeking asylum as a case study. My research resulted in new and important findings around how stakeholders respond to communication of complex social issues.
I have worked on several projects raising support for a social good, including regional groups for social cohesion, storytelling for social enterprises, and mobilisation of faith based communities. I like to think I can talk to pretty much anyone!
More than anything, I see myself as an agent for change, with some skills to help other people who want to make a difference too.
Making Sense of Human Advocacy Narrative. October 2019. PhD Thesis.
Asylum seekers have a right to higher education and academics can be powerful advocates. The Conversation, 14 October 2019.
RiSE 4EB Program 8, 2017 – ‘A PLACE TO CALL HOME’ – Dedicated to the 30,000 Asylum Seekers currently in ‘limbo’ in Australia. Features the PhD research of former international policy advisor and speech writer in the Australian Prime Minister’s department, Merrilyn Delporte.
Silent Voices: The Use of Narrative for Advocacy, The International Communications Association Conference, Research Escalator, Prague, May 2018.