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Strategic Plan Assessment – Children & Families Commission of Orange County

Service:

Strategic Communication

Challenge

The Children and Families Commission of Orange County (CFCOC) adopted its First Strategic Plan to guide the allocation of Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenue funds to programs that meet the intent of voter initiative and benefit Orange County’s children from birth through age five on February 16, 2000. In order to determine if the Strategic Plan has been successful, CFCOC wanted to conduct an objective and efficient review and analysis of the its current strategic plan and provide insight and recommendations for a plan that focuses on policy and advocacy issues that support the goals of CFCOC.

Solution

For this project, SGA recommended evaluations that assessed the increases in the outcome of the goals outlined in the Commission’s Strategic Plan:

  1. Healthy Children
  2. Strong Families
  3. Early Learning
  4. Capacity Building

To evaluate how effective the Commission’s strategies and tactics have been, SGA used the following tactics:

Step 1: Analyze how CFCOC was communicating to its stakeholders.
We assembled samples of all communications vehicles (newsletters, press releases, website, blog, social media strategy, etc.) that CFCOC distributed to its target audiences. Evaluated them for effectiveness, accessibility, and timing. Reviewed CFCOC social media strategy. Determine the usefulness of various communications topics and vehicles. Analyzed whether the Commission’s audiences received the key messages and what communication they were lacking.

Step 2: Got feedback from all internal audiences.
SGA conducted interviews with staff, consultants, and commission members. We reviewed organizational materials and strategies to assess the current operations and identified gaps. We conducted one-on-one interviews with executives to reveal:

  • Their vision statement
  • Concerns and feedback
  • Opinions on staff roles in the strategic plan

Step 3: Looked outward: Query your external stakeholders.
What does the community know and perceive about CFCOC? We wanted to take a broader look at the impact of the Commission and its performance. We informally interviewed community members to determine what the community knows and thinks about CFCOC. We determined if the Commission’s brand was recognizable locally and statewide.

Step 4: Conduct a SWOT analysis.
Pulled all collected data into a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the Strategic Plan. The SWOT analysis helped determine:

  • Tactics and methods that worked well for CFCOC
  • Practices that did not work and needed to be changed in order to achieve the Commission’s goals
  • Opportunities CFCOC can leverage to improve its services with target audiences
  • What is threatening your organization’s successful efforts with stakeholders

Step 5: Recommended changes to the Strategic Plan based on all data collected and analyzed.
Once SGA analyzed all the findings, we recommended tactics that focused on strengths, considered new opportunities, minimized weaknesses, and eliminated threats.

Results

SGA reviewed CFCOC’s strategic efforts and recommending the appropriate methods to pivot their approach as a regional leader and hub of early childhood development. SGA created a detailed report to assist CFCOC in the development of their subsequent strategic plan.

OVERARCHING STRATEGIES
After our review, SGA recommended the following overarching strategies and tactics:

  • Use a two-pronged outreach approach—umbrella & audience specific.
  • Create a network of champions and on-call supporters.
  • Create “entry points” for audience engagement.
  • Use every interface with the community as an opportunity to promote CFCOC.

MESSAGING & POSITIONING
CFCOC aimed to position itself as the voice for zero-to-five issues, an expert in early childhood development, and a trusted resource for related data throughout the County. We recommended CFCOC develop its core communication messages and solidified how to position itself within Orange County.

  • Create umbrella & audience-specific messages.
  • Audience-specific messages: Create messages that speak directly to the barriers, motivators, and desired actions of each audience group
  • Add actions to CFCOC’s messages and materials.
  • Use real stories to make the Commission’s work come to life.

TACTICS

  • Website
    • Increase trafficOptimize for mobile
    • Augment “About Us” into a landing page
    • Use the website as an opportunity to build CFCOC’s online network.
  • Online Media
    • Create a strong CFCOC presence on LinkedIn.
    • Deploy email communications.
    • Maintain current Facebook activity.
    • Explore low-maintenance opportunities to spread the word.
    • Develop a shareable (ideally viral) video to promote awareness.
  • Earned Media
    • The steady drip approach—positions CFCOC as an expert in zero-to-five issues.
    • The flood approach—adds credibility to CFCOC’s position as the zero-to-five expert by highlighting initiatives the organization is involved with directly.
  • Materials (Print & Online)
    • Professional and visually appealing materials are a noted strength of CFCOC’s communications, and the Commission has an array of materials at its disposal.
  • Training
    • It is imperative that all staff, consultants, Commissioners, and funded partners
      have a clear understanding of CFCOC’s goals and audiences so that they can serve as ambassadors for the organization’s brand.

TACTIC PRIORITIZATION
In addition to the chronology of tactics described above, the below qualitative rating matrix provides CFCOC with a means to rank individual tactics.

Based on our assessment and recommendations, CFCOC has pivoted their strategic approach to align with the Commission’s new systems-level focus. The Commission plans to use the following key recommendations from the SGA audit to guide its new strategies:

  • Develop an audience-specific strategy that prioritizes key target audiences.
  • Inspire a Network of Champions that drive action on behalf of the Commission.
  • Use real-life stories from funded-partners and community-based organizations to inspire action.
  • Leverage the work and branding of First 5 California.

Also in response to the SGA audit’s recommendation to develop an audience-specific communications strategy, key audience recommendations that align with the Strategic, Business and Community Engagement Plans were presented for were identified by CFCOC:

  • Business and Government Leaders
  • Foundations and Donors
  • Community-Based Organizations and Funded Partners
  • Academic Institutions
  • Parents

Careers

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