BY GEORGE LEE
APEGGA should take a more modern, consistent and integrated
approach to its communications roles within and outside the
Association, says APEGGA's first-ever independent communications
audit. The Downey Norris & Associates Inc. report covered
all communications roles and products, among them The PEGG,
the website, advertising, special member events, branding
and imaging, Outreach and student liaison, member information
publications, sponsorships and media relations.
"It's always a good thing and a good time to do something
like this. But it's a particularly good time because we're
just developing our Three-Year Strategic Communications Plan.
With the 2002 opinion survey and the communications audit,
we have two very important documents to help us craft the
plan," says Sherrell Steele, APEGGA's manager of public
In February of this year, APEGGA requested proposals for the
internal planning document. Based on the successful Downey
Norris proposal, the objectives were:
· to identify and confirm the primary corporate communications
needs and priorities of the Association, members and key target
· to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of current
communications plans, products, messages, image and activities
in meeting those needs and priorities
· to make recommendations for enhancement and additions
to Association communications activities to better address
those needs and priorities in the future.
The consultant reviewed communications materials, and interviewed
28 of APEGGA's senior management team, including a number
of branch chairs and councillors, the president and the executive
director. Among the other research sources were a focus group
with Communications Department staff, and reviews of best
practices, and the communications roles and products of other
Downey Norris concluded that:
· APEGGA conducts a broad range of very good communications
activities and products that can and should be effective in
reaching target audiences. What is required for the most part
are significant updating and improvements in what is currently
done, how it is done and how it is targeted.
· APEGGA's communications initiatives and products
are generally consistent with the overall mission and goals
of the organization as a whole, and targeted to appropriate
audiences. However, there needs to be more and better priority
setting in the development of plans and activities, and better
linkage of communications priorities and resources to the
overall priorities of the Association.
· Content of products and publications is generally
consistent with Association goals and communications objectives.
However, frequently the material is not conducive to easy
readability, accessibility or understanding, and design and
style are not appropriate for target audiences.
· APEGGA's communications focus should be on modernizing,
increasing use of technology in communicating with members,
stakeholders and the public, and on emphasizing earned news
media coverage over paid advertising.
Says Ms. Steele: "I think the audit was really important
for APEGGA to conduct. This was an opportunity to step back
and clearly evaluate what we do."