Blacktown City Council is the largest local government body in Australia’s largest state, New South Wales. The Council is the fourth largest in Australia, and one of the most culturally diverse. The challenges of successfully communicating and marketing to such a diverse group are considerable. Wells Haslem was asked to review the Communications and Marketing work conducted by Blacktown City Council through its Communications Unit and consider ways in which that work could be improved. Following that, we were asked by the Council to develop a strategic communications plan, incorporating both internal and external communications. The plan is to be used as an overarching guide for the Council’s communications and marketing activities and to identify opportunities to optimise the quality, timeliness, value and effectiveness of Council’s communications and marketing.
Our first piece of work was in December 2014 where we reviewed the Council’s communications activities and design to date. This comprehensive review included: internal meetings with the Council; executive management; the communications and marketing teams; surveys of key stakeholders and data analysis; desktop research and analysis of media; evaluation of social media. The report included key observations and recommendations on: the structure and operations of the Communications Unit; output of the Communications Unit; internal communications; external communications; and social media. It also included the quantitative survey findings. A key recommendation was the development of a comprehensive internal and external communications plan. In 2015 Wells Haslem was awarded the contract to undertake the communications plan. Following further internal meetings with the Executive team and Communications Unit, Wells Haslem interviewed various Council employees to gain varying perspectives (many of whom were off-site, such as childcare workers) and undertook further research and investigation. We then provided a communications strategy that included: background and context, including a SWOT analysis; objectives and outcomes; issues analysis; stakeholder analysis, including a stakeholder map; key messages; strategic assessment and approach; action plan; implementation timeline; benchmarks; review, evaluation and improvement; and a toolkit.
Following our first piece of work in December (the evaluation of the Council’s communications efforts) the Council followed a key Wells Haslem recommendation to commission a comprehensive internal and external communications plan. The Council followed this advice and commissioned us again to completed this project. Both pieces of work were assessed by the Council’s Communication Unit, senior Executive team, and the Council itself, and were well received. Many of Wells Haslem’s recommendations have been incorporated. Given this project was only completed in June, the Council is still working to incorporate many of the proposed recommendations made by Wells Haslem.