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Tips for communicating a new strategy with everyone in mind

18 March 2022

One of the biggest challenges for charities launching a strategy is making it accessible and engaging to the public. To outsiders’ ‘strategy’ can be seen as a jargon word, so without careful comms there’s a risk of readers automatically switching off.

Here at Young Lives vs Cancer when we launched our new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategy it was vital to bring our audience with us on the journey. We know that we cannot separate our core purpose and ambition from the inequality that exists in our society. And we can’t make sure that no family faces cancer alone if we aren’t doing our part to address the inequality that exists in our own organisation.

To be as transparent as possible, we needed to make sure our strategy was readily available and understandable for all the young people and families we support. Here’s how we did it and our tips for communicating a new strategy.

Involve internal staff

We had an internal launch event and held strategy discussion sessions to make sure our strategy would hit the mark. We adopted the Brave Not Perfect tagline, which highlights our commitment to making changes in an accountable way, but allowing for mistakes – we would rather try and get it wrong, than not try at all. The tagline instantly relieved pressures for staff, knowing that we are open to honest conversations and brave questions on our road to improvement. It also allowed us to speak clearly about what the work means for all staff within the organisation.

We provided opportunities for staff and volunteers to learn about our approach to DEIB and shape the direction:

  • We held defining DEIB sessions for staff and volunteers
  • We developed a steering group with staff, volunteers, parents and young people – they met monthly to decide on the priorities in the strategy.
  • We conducted a survey to get direct feedback on how people in the organisation were feeling about DEIB.
  • We also engaged our Leadership Forum and our Staff Forum throughout the strategy development process

Include voices of those you represent

While we had already taken steps to develop our approach to DEIB, it was a message from a young person we support, Enkay, that accelerated our work. On 2 June 2020, along with many organisations, we posted a black square with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday following the murder of George Floyd. Enkay directly messaged our account and expressed her concern of the post being tokenistic and called us out on the lack of representation on our social media channels. From there, we picked up the pace. Enkay was brought in, along with other young people, families, staff and consultants, to feedback on our work and help us shape our new strategy and make DEIB a priority.

When it came to launching the strategy, we wanted to be brave, to hold our hands up and say we weren’t doing enough and had work to do. So, we arranged for Enkay to meet our Chief Executive to have an open, honest conversation about the strategy on camera. This non-scripted talk aims to demonstrate how we are listening to young people and what the strategy means for them.

Make it visually appealing

Once we had the video ready to go, it was then time to dissect the strategy and transform it into comprehensible content on our website. We broke it down into three easy to digest sections; Our DEIB Playbook, Our Vision and Our Priorities and followed these up with a section on how we were to be held accountable. We introduced the video with our CEO and Enkay early on within the page to set the scene and draw in the audience’s attention and followed this with quotes and short bullet points.

Customise for each channel

As with all campaigns, we knew how important it would be to make sure we adapt our tone of voice and messaging for different audiences and social channels. By drawing out different elements of the report and story, we could make sure the content was relevant and engaging for each audience.

The video of Enkay and our CEO was the focal piece of content for the strategy launch. As well as being the focus of our landing page, the long form video was shared to LinkedIn and Twitter, with a transparent caption explaining the journey we took with Enkay to get to this point.

A shorter cut of the video was shared to our Instagram stories, and we directed followers to our grid post to learn more about what the launch means. The Instagram post dissected what launching a new strategy really means as a carousel post with five main takeaways. As always with our Instagram audience, we addressed them in a casual, chatty tone and spoke much more about what this strategy would mean for young service users. With our Instagram audience being primarily current service users and that post-treatment, we wanted to make sure it felt relevant to them and would engage them in conversation and feedback – this is the audience we really need to listen to for guidance.

Our Facebook audience is made up of service user families and supporters. Here our audiences resonate with real life experiences and stories, so we focused on Enkay’s experiences and what the strategy launch means for young people facing cancer, like her.

Seek feedback to shape the future

To ensure we are accurately considering the needs of the young people we support we made sure we also collected reactions to the strategy. We began sharing these across our social media channels to encourage conversation and as a way of making sure we are held accountable – if we make it publicly known what our service users expect from us, we must work hard to make sure we get the job done.

We hope our experiences will give you the confidence to launch your own strategy with a bold and transparent approach.

You can read Young Lives vs Cancer’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategy here.

Other useful strategy resources:

Banner Image: Sergey on Pexels

Georgia Watt

senior brand and marketing communications officer, Young Lives vs Cancer

Georgia Watt is a senior brand and marketing communications officer at Young Lives vs Cancer. In her role, Georgia works to make sure the brand is being communicated in a creative and interesting way to raise money, increase engagement and widen reach and awareness. 

Emma Gibbons

media and communications officer, Young Lives vs Cancer

In her role as media and communications officer, Emma helps those supported by the charity share their stories and raise awareness of the experiences children and young people with cancer and their families face.