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Learnings from communicating a new strategy

19 July 2022

A new strategy is a significant step for any organisation, regardless of size. But a good strategy is nothing without good communication. Communicating it effectively both internally and externally is vital to ensure the next chapter gets off to the best possible start. That was our challenge at Leukaemia UK earlier this year.

Since Leuka and Leukaemia UK merged in 2019, the charity has been focused on being a greater force for change for those whose lives are impacted by a leukaemia diagnosis. Our new strategy – the development of which was shaped by our supporters and scientific and healthcare professionals across the blood cancer community – is focused on saving and improving more lives, through research, awareness and advocacy.

We wanted to ensure we had a well-communicated strategy and that our goals and values, which included collaboration, were positively aligned from day one, creating a clear vision that our stakeholders and supporters can be inspired to be a part of.

Timing

We chose the 28 May as it was World Blood Cancer Day. We chose this day to launch our new strategy as it seemed an opportune moment to highlight our new approach – why we need to go further than ever to stop leukaemia devastating lives. We then developed a comprehensive timeline to ensure that everything would be ready for launch – see later for our learnings on that!

Tailoring comms to our audiences

Involving internal and external stakeholders in the strategy development, made it easier to create staff and supporter journeys to take into the launch and help with the roll-out. Throughout the process, our priority was to make sure that our stakeholders and existing supporters were well informed. We have come a long way with them in a relatively short space of time and we know that the success of all our future work is dependant on their continued support and collaboration.  

Across the organisation, we looked at our different stakeholder groups including our research community, our different fundraising audiences and our partner charities and organisations. This enabled us to tailor our communications plan and messaging to speak to each. We let all of our stakeholders know about the new strategy ahead of the public launch on the 28 May, and we did this through email and through our new strategy video. We coordinated this stakeholder announcement across the charity, so that staff members were able to personalise the communication to their own contacts.

For our internal staff team, who of course already knew about certain aspects of the strategy, we wanted this to be a chance to think creatively about ways to embody the new values and personality we were aiming for, as part of our wider brand roll-out taking place over the summer. We even had brand consultancy The Clearing, who are leading Leukaemia UK’s rebrand, hold some really engaging sessions for our staff team on ways that they could start to embody the new values into their work and on starting to use our new tone of voice. We’d really recommend this as an approach as it was great for team bonding, as a reminder of the importance to make time to be creative, and allowed some useful cross-pollination to take place.

It was also an opportunity to reach out to wider audiences and highlight some of the amazing work that Leukaemia UK has been a part of so far. And it gave us an opportunity to speak to journalists ahead of World Blood Cancer Day and increase brand awareness through the coverage that was generated from this.

Communicating our strategy through video

We developed a core set of messages and FAQs for staff alongside the central email, which was tailored for audiences. We also had social media posts planned and a strategy landing page, where people could find out more about the strategy in detail.

In addition to this, one of the main ways we communicated our new strategy, was through a video we produced with the video production company Dreaming Fish. This was a format we could use across multiple channels including social media, website, email and in person, and it encouraged us to think about how we could communicate our strategy messaging in both a concise and thought-provoking way.

The video needed to represent our community and the part that we play in it. So we got together some of our amazing researchers and supporters with lived experience of leukaemia, with our Chief Executive, Fiona Hazell, to talk about our new strategy and create a video that could tell others about it.

Whilst incorporating the stories of some of our case studies and researchers from across the UK, we also spent a day recording new interviews with Dr Bill Grey, one of our 2021 John Goldman Fellows, Dr Dinis Calado, one of our Project Grant recipients, and Iona Beastall, who recently shared her experience of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with us. Along with an interview from our Chief Executive to lay-out the important points of our new strategy and why we were launching it, this provided a variety of perspectives and helped to create a picture of Leukaemia UK and where we are going as an organisation.

Taking part in the filming day, meeting Bill, Dinis and Iona, and having the opportunity to talk to them about our work and what they would like to see come out of it, was for me one of the most rewarding parts of the strategy launch process and cemented why our new strategy was so important.

Learnings and next steps

The strategy roll-out provided us with learnings around sign-off processes and planning timeframes, which we can now take forward with us. Having a clear roll-out plan with defined deadlines that everyone has agreed is important but always allow more time than you think! For PR in particular, having the central messages, story angles and press releases signed off well in advance will help you to maximise the opportunity and allow you time to develop these more thoroughly. We ended up sending out our press release later than planned, as with brand new messaging the sign-off process takes longer than normal, as everyone needs more time to consider something that will hopefully be used longer term. 

The launch itself also provided great opportunities to work collaboratively with freelancers and other organisations, not to mention strengthen relationships with our existing supporters and stakeholders. This started new conversations on ways we can work together in the future as well.

Our next step is a full roll-out of our new brand identity and website over the summer, in time for Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September. This will include a full brand launch in August which we are very excited to share. As well as plans for a collaboration with Leukaemia Care for awareness-raising campaign, Spot Leukaemia, which runs annually to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms.

We’re also hosting two exciting events across Blood Cancer Awareness Month; our annual science seminar which will bring together our community of researchers, patients and supporters for a celebration of the power of research and how it is accelerating progress in leukaemia. Plus there will be the chance to put our strategy into action during our flagship major donor fundraising event, “Who’s Cooking Dinner?”, which returns after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.

This has been a really exciting phase for Leukaemia UK and we are looking forward to continuing to bring our new strategy to life as we work to accelerate progress in diagnosis, treatment and care for those whose lives are impacted by leukaemia.


If you’re interested in hearing how others are managing the launch of their new strategy don’t miss Mind’s session at The evolving world of internal communications Conference as they will be talking about the role of engagement during periods of change relating to their new strategy.

Banner Image: VD Photography on Unsplash

Charlotte Scott

PR & communications manager, Leukaemia UK

Charlotte is PR and communications manager at Leukaemia UK where she is currently leading their new brand and strategy rollout. Through research, awareness and advocacy, Leukaemia UK works to save and improve the lives of those impacted by leukaemia by accelerating progress in diagnosis, treatment and care. Charlotte's previous roles have involved working on brand awareness, campaigns, media and external relations for charities, NGOs and in the arts and hospitality sectors.