Through the development of your agency’s strategic plan, you have defined the agency’s mission, guiding values or vision, and the strategies you will use to pursue the mission and to actualize the guiding values. You, of course, need to communicate the mission and guiding values to the agency’s internal and external stakeholders as well as the strategies you will use. Beyond that, though, you need to engage all agency stakeholders in the implementation of the strategic plan. It is not enough that they know about the plan. They also need to actively participate in reaching the goals and in achieving the outcomes. This may be thought of as “positive participation” and the process of engaging stakeholders is “strategic communication.” Strategic communication, then, produces positive participation by stakeholders.
The first step in developing your strategic communication plan is, thus, to identify the agency’s external stakeholders and to define positive participation for each. (Internal stakeholders are discussed further in a later chapter.) For example, your state’s legislature can positively participate by providing financial resources for foster care but cannot provide a safe, supportive home for a child. Your juvenile court can positively participate by giving the agency legal authorization to remove a child from an abusive home but cannot deliver the needed services to enable the child to successfully reunify with his family. Local service clubs can positively participate by providing resources for gifts and special activities for children served by the agency but cannot assure that those children receive adequate health care or that they are successful in school. External stakeholders can positively participate in some ways but cannot participate in others. Strategic communication starts by clearly mapping each external stakeholder and specifying positive participation for each.
To construct the stakeholder map for your agency, begin with the agency’s mission and guiding values. Using the mission and guiding values for LCCS for purposes of illustration, you can isolate the major goals or agency outcomes. Those for your agency are likely very similar.