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Case Study – External Communications Department

Many organizations do not want to take on the expense of a full communications department. Parceling work out to existing employees isn’t efficient and hiring someone fulltime can be cost prohibitive, especially when salary, benefits and office space are factored in. Hatha Communications offers the perfect solution – the External Communications Department. The External Communications Department (ECD) offers you the benefits of a fulltime staffer with services tailored to your specific needs.

Communications should be part of your organization’s overall business strategy. You are the best at what you do, but maybe communications strategy isn’t your strength. We are experts and can complement and enhance your efforts, taking communications off your plate and allowing you to concentrate on your forte.

The ECD can handle all of your communications needs from any of the services we offer: social media, website maintenance, newsletter production, outreach, crisis communications and more. Hatha Communications follows these steps when setting up an ECD:

  1. Collect and review current communications materials
  2. Completion of Creative Positioning Worksheet by client’s Executive Team
  3. A 1 – 2.5 hour brainstorming and Q&A session with the Executive Team and any other key players as determined by the client to discover needs, perceptions, disconnects and successes.
  4. Development of a written Communications Analysis Plan (CAP)
  5. CAP review/roles and responsibilities determination meeting
  6. CAP implementation with Hatha Communications serving as the project manager
  7. In addition to implementation of the CAP, the client is encouraged to confer with Hatha Communications on any communications issues, such as media inquiries or crises as they arise.
  8. Under the External Communications Department Package, Hatha Communications devotes up to 35 hours/month to the client’s needs.

Let’s look at one of Hatha Communication’s External Communications Department clients:

The Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, commonly known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank, is a non-profit organization focused on housing in the foreclosure crisis ravaged Greater Cleveland area.  Its main purpose is to acquire blighted properties and restore them to productive use through renovation or demolition with the ultimate goal of increasing property values.

Hatha Communications was tapped to help the Cuyahoga Land Bank  with branding and on-going communications needs and embarked on a longer-term relationship.

Hatha worked closely with the Land Bank staff to create a communications strategy that would enable them to efficiently address their communications and raise awareness of the organization and what it does.  To do so, Hatha:

  1. Analyzed the communications vehicles already in place
  2. Met extensively with Land Bank staff to discuss what they felt were their needs and desired outcomes. Hatha Communications also suggested other efforts that would augment those in place.
  3. Ensured the communications goals aligned with the overall goals of the organization
  4. Applied knowledge and expertise in the foreclosure industry to identify partnerships and collaborations with outside entities

From this initial work Hatha Communications was able to pinpoint the following primary areas of focus:

  1. Establishing and maintaining a social media presence
  2. Developing a website and managing its content
  3. Continuing to build the Land Bank as a separate identity from the county to the public, including the media, policy makers, governments and the real estate community.
  4. Agressively promoting the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s new programs to establish the organization as a national thought leader
  5. Placing emphasize on the collaborations that the Cuyahoga Land Bank builds in order to accomplish large scale goals

Hatha Communications recognized that each focus area had its own challenges. They understood that the Land Bank was uncomfortable with social media. The Land Bank had a development partner for the website but needed management of the process, content and concept development. The largest challenge was the immediate and continuing need to cement an identity, which would require reputation management and strong media relations, both strengths of Hatha Communications.

Hatha Communications was able to establish a Land Bank presence on multiple social media platforms, created a calendar and list of suggested posts and hashtags and continues to manage all social media posting.

Hatha Communications worked closely with the website developer and the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s IT personnel, providing content and layout direction and project management for the development of the site, along with insuring that the Meta tags were in place for SEO.  Hatha Communications also coordinated with the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s IT personnel to develop a media tracking system that feeds into the site and continues to manage this system as well as providing content updates for the website and blog.

Hatha Communications makes sure there is a consistent flow of information to local media groups, a presence on social media, and facilitated maximizing partnerships in the community.

Alongside the focus areas Hatha Communications developed the Land Bank’s newsletter, starting with a monthly and then moving to a  bi-weekly publication, developed the contact list, added a Partner Feature and made sure that Land Bank staff could control production of the newsletter using MailChimp.

Hatha also produces videos for the Cuyahoga Land Bank that provide information about Land Bank activities such as Asbestos Abatement, ribbon cuttings, testimonials and the Homefront Program designed for former and current armed forces personnel.

Hatha Communications has also provided Crisis Communication services as needed.

Hatha Communications is, quite basically, on call as needed to aid with any communications needs. Hatha Communications continues to be responsible for the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s crisp, informative website; active social media presence; well-read newsletter and consistently positive local, national and international media attention to their programs, partnerships and successes.

None of this would work without a strong relationship with the client. Every ECD client has a point person within their organization to facilitate communication between Hatha Communications and individual employees. We have quarterly meetings to review on-going programs, identify new program launches, discuss brand strategy, determine outreach for different media opportunities and brainstorm other news to cover and maintain regular communications with our point of contact.  Over time our relationship has grown to where the Land Bank staff views Hatha Communications as an extension of their company. They trust us as team member and key staff feels comfortable sharing the work with us.

Hatha Communications has played a critical role in the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s external communications since 2011 allowing them to do what they do best, grow in stature and recognition as a top Land Bank in the US and maintain positive presence in all forms of media.

Posted in Case Studies