Communications Strategy

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1 Communications Communications July 2013 Version 1.1 1

2 Communications River Clyde Homes Vision Our vision is to provide quality, affordable homes, in neighbourhoods we can be proud of and to deliver excellent services that make a real difference for our customers. River Clyde Homes Values CARES Customer first, performance driven Acting with integrity, being professional Respect for each other, our partners and our environment Embrace innovation, challenge expectations Spend our money wisely River Clyde Homes Objectives Excellent customer experience Sustainable homes and places Improved energy efficiency and reduced fuel poverty An efficiency company A growing company Safer and better supported customers Diverse, committed & empowered workforce 2

3 Communications Version Control Author Version Date Changes made / Comments Keith Moore Draft July 2013 Final July 2013 Agreed by Board 3

4 Communications 4

5 Communications Contents 1. Introduction Background to Context Plan and Priority of Implementation Action Plans

6 Communications 1 Introduction Purpose of this strategy 1.1 Communication is a key function for River Clyde Homes and one that has been identified as a priority for improvement by customers, the workforce and partners. How we communicate has a big impact on the perception of the organisation. It is crucial our communication is regular, clear and consistent. This strategy will provide a framework to assist communications both internally and externally. Whilst the Communications and media protocols were updated in October 2012, this strategy aims to be more actionled than was the case previously. 1.2 The strategy recognises that communication is a two-way process and that everyone within River Clyde Homes has a responsibility to communicate in an appropriate manner. 1.3 River Clyde Homes acknowledges that customers are at the heart of all its activities. We will maximise opportunities to gain customer insight, encourage feedback. We will be responsive to that feedback and communicate clearly all changes and improvements to service provision as a result by appropriate means. 1.4 The strategy aims to: Ensure all internal and external communications are effective; Provide successful mechanisms for two way communication; Provide guidance to staff on methods and style of communication; Develop a framework to enable targets to be set and the quality of communication to be measured; Ensure information about River Clyde Homes (RCH) is open and accessible; Ensure that all barriers to communications are identified and broken down allowing easy access to all our information and our services for customers, staff and partners. 6

7 Communications Impact of strategy 1.5 Once implemented, this strategy will, in a step-by-step way, improve communications for customers, staff and partners leading to increased levels of satisfaction as to how, what and when we communicate. 1.6 Communications activities should have a very clear impact on all stakeholders. We will target our communications appropriately and ensure that any barriers are identified and removed. Communications should be: Clearly defined Easy to access Easy to understand Available to all customers, staff and partners Cost effective 1.7 Customers, staff and partners should be able to identify the impact their comments and suggestions have on the services provided by River Clyde Homes. 1.8 There will be costs attached to improving our communications activities. These should be contained within current budgets although there is an expectation that for communications technology based activities, extra monies may be required. Links to organisational Vision, Values and Business Plan objectives 1.9 This strategy will provide the direction, capacity and plan for the company to deliver more effective communication of its vision, values and strategic objectives and will help to confirm progress in achieving our Business Plan outcomes This strategy will contribute towards the delivery of our Steps To Excellence change programme; in particular the Count Me In customer involvement initiative and the Right Person, Right Place, Right Time organisational restructure Communications will play a major part in achieving our objective of placing customers at the heart of everything we do ; the development of a customer led Communications Panel will help to ensure customers directly influence our communication plans and activities in the future and will help to make sure our communication is effective and relevant. 7

8 Communications 2 Background Current Approach 2.1 The previous Communications was approved by the Board in October 2012 and does not reflect the considerable change currently underway at River Clyde Homes. In contrast the new strategy has been directly shaped by current key priorities and plans such as the Steps to Excellence change programme. Achievements 2.2 It is too early to measure the success of the strategy; this will be undertaken over the coming year in a number of ways including the use of customer and staff satisfaction surveys; feedback from customer and partners at key events; direct feedback from the customer led Communications panel, and the staff equivalent working group; as well as achievement of other key wider organisational outcomes. 8

9 Communications 3 Context National and Local Drivers 3.1 National Drivers: There will always be outside influences which will affect the business of the association and therefore the communications activities. The communications function must be able to embrace and respond to changes, for example, in, government legislation, economic pressures, changes to the regulatory framework and developments in best practice in other housing associations. New technologies, or channel shifting, have an impact on customer expectations on how they access information and how they communicate with the association. We must be prepared to respond to these changes and, where necessary, amend policies and actions. Effective communications enhance our reputation within the sector and can influence policy at a national level. 3.2 Local Drivers: In addition there are a number of local drivers which will impact upon the communications strategy. River Clyde Homes works in close partnership with Inverclyde Council, Police Scotland, Fire Scotland, NHS Argyll and Clyde and with many key local partners in Inverclyde Alliance. The development of joint plans and strategies will require communication activities. However there is always the possibility that one organisation changing a procedure will place a new financial burden upon or increase the responsibilities of the association. These and similar changes could potentially impact upon our business and delivery plans. Our relationship with our partners and the local media, in particular, is critical. It is important that we build confidence and trust to improve the perception of River Clyde Homes so we can work with partners to positively promote Inverclyde as a place to work, rest and play through our housing offer. 9

10 Communications 4 Plan and Priority 4.1 When considering how to tackle the communications challenges facing River Clyde Homes it is appropriate to consider the short term, medium and long term direction in order to break down the strategy into manageable and achievable goals. However, in this instance, with the exception of the full redevelopment of the web and intranet sites, this is a one-year, short term plan. Medium and long term communication plans will be developed following the conclusion of the Steps to Excellence change programme and the resultant normalisation of the organisation; this is likely to be in 12 month s time. 4.2 Over the next 12 months the Communications will have two distinct strands: Internal communications; External communications Both strands will seek to improve the effectiveness of communications, its impact and satisfaction with communication. Throughout the strategy will be the need to achieve and demonstrate good value for money. Our internal strategy will: Ensure action is taken to highlight good practice amongst staff and to celebrate where staff have gone that extra mile for the benefit of customers; Ensure ease of access for all staff, whether working in an office or out-ofoffice, to all River Clyde Homes communications; Ensure that our staff can act consistently, effectively and appropriately in line with the values outlined in The River Clyde Way. Our external strategy will: Promote and develop the new River Clyde Homes family of brands OneCall ; HomeFact ; PropertyCare ; ExtraCare, etc ; Communicate and promote access to our services to our customers and partners; 10

11 Communications Develop stronger relationships with our customers by demonstrating how we are listening to them, particularly through our You Said, We Did campaign and involve customers in our key communications activities; Raise awareness and better understanding of the role River Clyde Homes plays in developing communities in Inverclyde; Build upon the already strong relationships with the local & national media and trade magazine outlets; Develop the website to ensure that there is greater and improved information that is updated regularly and provides greater interaction for customers with effective access and to ensure that any barriers are removed; 3.2 While the Communications will be led by the Communications Manager, all our employees need to show a commitment to effective communication with our customers, stakeholders and with each other. This is one of the commitments of The River Clyde Way, which all employees signed up at the 2013 Staff Conference. 3.3 We will ensure our communications are: Open and honest; Clear and easily understood; Timely, up-to-date and trustworthy; Written in plain English, without jargon; Available in formats that suit customers needs and Able to adapt to take account of customer feedback. 3.4 A Media Protocol was agreed by Board at the end of This will be reviewed and made available to staff. 11

12 Communications 5 Implementation 5.1 The SMT, the and all operational teams will have collective responsibility for delivering the strategy and action plan. 5.2 The action plan contained within this strategy will be monitored as part of the performance management framework and reported to the Senior Management Team on a monthly basis and the Board on a bi-monthly basis. Monitoring will be carried out against defined milestones and any reported on an exception basis. 5.3 The strategy will be reviewed quarterly by the customer led Communications Panel and the internal staff Communications Working Group. 5.4 This will be refreshed as a part of the annual business planning process; this will ensure that customer, staff and partner feedback is captured and used to keep the strategy and action plan current and relevant.. 12

13 Communications 6 Action Plans Outcome To provide excellent customer experience Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies A new website Website to be partially redeveloped by October 2013: ICT Project Manager / October 2013 Business Transformation Front page to be completely redesigned to facilitate easier access to information on current Customer Access and Feedback initiatives and activities. The pages behind will be developed in Equalities association with the new teams as they develop and complete their SIP s. The focus will shift from passive information to more active usage to encourage customers to access services via the web, up to date performance information and forward notification of events and activities. Work on a completely revamped website will begin in association with ICT in January 2014 with a new site, including significant improvements to e-serve options launched by April E-serve options to be developed to include access to rent accounts, improved payment options, ASB reporting, repairs reporting etc ICT Project Manager / April 2014 Business Transformation Customer Access and Feedback Value for Money 13

14 Communications Customer Hubs Raise awareness and maximise usage of the new customer hubs in Greenock and Port Glasgow; produce information for the hubs including opening hours / services offer and standards etc; ensure consistency of branding on every aspect of the customer hubs from interior design, to signage, leaflets and staff uniforms etc; ensure there are no barriers to access to services at the customer hubs including EA compliance, hearing loops, translation services and private interview facilities. Head of Customer Excellence / November 2013 Customer Access & Feedback Equalities Customer Communications Up Close magazine to be redesigned with the Communications Panel and to contain regular features to underline the change agenda such as a regular You Said, We Did feature. Explore the opportunities presented by social networking technology One off bespoke communications to promote key messages and/or campaigns such as welfare reform or ASB Publication dates: June, September and December 2013 and March Customer Involvement Business Transformation Improved Customer Information You said, we did Campaign A new suite of service leaflets to be produced in conjunction with service managers once new standards are approved. Focus through regular communications on capturing examples where customer comments have resulted in a change in the way we deliver services. Where a customer is agreeable, we will speak to them about their suggested changes and report outcomes via Up Close magazine, web site, media campaigns etc. with service managers and service managers October 2013 From July 2013 Places Safe and Independent Living Customer Access & Feedback Customer Involvement 14

15 Communications Making a difference Campaign Communicate and publicise our intention to make a difference in Inverclyde by confirming on a consistent and regular basis how customer involvement and customer led scrutiny has made a difference to service quality and value for money. / Executive and Governance Support Manager From September 2013 Customer Involvement Value for Money To Be The Best Campaign Communicate and publicise our intentions to be the best in the sector; major internal communications initiative required starting autumn SMT / Communications Manager / OD Manager From November 2013 and ongoing Organisational Development Count Me In Campaign. Maximise awareness of the new opportunities for customer involvement and influence; and for customer led scrutiny of services planning and delivery. / Executive and Governance Support Manager From July 2013 Customer Involvement Customer Access and Feedback Places Outcome To provide sustainable homes and places Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies River Clyde Homes Community Stars Campaign and Event Develop a customer awards initiative and celebration; launch the campaign in January March 2014 Customer Involvement Places Effective communication of neighbourhood planning events and activities Support neighbourhood planning activities and events; ensure wide publication of events, agendas, minutes, action plans; develop area specific information including awareness of agreed neighbourhood plans; provide mechanisms for reporting on progress in Neighbourhood Planning and Delivery Manager / To commence September 2013 Places 15

16 Communications delivery of the plans. Embed River Clyde Homes community commitment and engagement; develop themed campaigns to develop enhanced community awareness of service priorities such as ASB; sensitive allocations; handypersons; Winning In Neighbourhoods etc Maximise awareness across Inverclyde of investment plans and activities particularly SHQS works i.e. Spending 1m a month on our homes campaign Provide communications support to all customer involvement and engagement initiatives via principal communications mechanisms; promote all RCH initiatives through press and media outlets including local and national media as well as trade publications; target of four news releases a month; support awards and accolades through communications activities ensuring awareness both internally and externally. Organise two customer focussed carnival style events each year; one spring/summer and one in the autumn. Produce regular press releases; scheme openings / completions stories, involving customers and local councillors; producing scheme banners and signs; involving local schools and TARA s in awareness raising initiatives / Executive and Governance Support Manager / service managers Neighbourhood Planning and Delivery Manager; From November From September 2013 Customer Involvement Customer Access and Feedback Places Green Equalities Places Green Business Development Outcome To become an efficient company Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies Maximise participation in Customer Satisfaction Survey Encourage maximum customer feedback; ensure wide communication of results; confirm actions in response to the feedback and results SMT / Communications Manager September 2013 Customer Access & Feedback Regular performance reporting and benchmarking comparisons to customers and partners Ensure widespread and regular reporting of performance and benchmarked information to customers and partners via website; Up Close magazine; RCH Matters etc; include plans to improve SMT / Finance and Incomes Manager / From September Customer Access & Feedback Value for Money 16

17 Communications Produce Annual Accounts and Customer Impact Assessments Maximise partner support for communication activities and events Promote Choice Based Lettings value for money and efficiencies. Design and publish annual accounts for financial year 2012/13 and 2013/14; launch first ever Customer Impact Assessment for 2013/14 with the Communications Panel Encourage partner financial contributions towards relevant events and activities; develop advertising in Up Close ; seek partner sponsorship of key events, campaigns and activities. Support the CBL Project Plan; ensure the effective communication of the new lettings scheme and the marketing of void properties. SMT / Finance and Incomes Manager / / Communications Panel SMT / Communications Manager Lettings Manager / August 2013 / August 2014 From September 2013 and ongoing From January 2014 Places Statutory requirement Customer Involvement Value for Money Business Development Places Outcome To become a growing company Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies Re-enforce our Corporate Identity: ; letters; written communications; signage etc Ensure that all s, written communications, letters etc contain standard requirements and predefined information such as awards and accolades.. September 2013 Customer Access & Feedback Business Development Promote and market our non social housing services offer: leasehold management / factoring services; repairs and maintenance; personalised services etc Design and implement a number of bespoke marketing campaigns to promote interest in our non social housing services offers; to maximise take up and develop new sources of income. Business Growth Manager / April 2014 onwards Business Development 17

18 Communications Outcome Safer and better supported customers Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies Produce Repairs Handbook; Customer Handbook April 2014 Customer Access and Feedback Support achievement of 80% customer profile information Complete and publish new Repairs Handbook; and same for Customer Handbook confirming a range of service standards and the River Clyde Way; publish in a range of formats including youtube, the website; printed versions; poster versions. Ensure maximum customer profiling through a getting to Know You campaign; include door to door calling / outbound calling via the contact centre; bespoke letters and surveys; on-line feedback / Head of Customer Excellence / PropertyCare Manager Head of Business Transformation / October 2014 Places Safe and Independent Places Awareness of new One Call service as a 3 rd party reporting centre for hate crime and domestic violence Promote One Call as a 3 rd party reporting centre via local media; website and Up Close magazine; ensure partner awareness One Call Manager / Respect and Responsibility Manager / October 2014 Safe and Independent Places Ensure awareness of welfare reform impacts; including sources of advice and support for our customers Ensure awareness of welfare reform impacts via the website; Up Close magazine; RCH Matters; staff briefings; work with partners; bespoke letters from teams; and at the new customer hubs via posters and TV screens SMT / Communications Manager From July 2013 Safe and Independent Places Value for Money Outcome Diverse, committed & empowered workforce Business plan priority Actions Lead Date by Links to other strategies Promote awareness and Support participation in new staff awards OD Manager / September 2013 OD participation in new RCH scheme via RCH Matters staff magazine, 18

19 Communications Staff Awards Scheme team briefings and the intranet Develop and support staff intranet Develop an interim phase 1 intranet, web based Staff Zone ; phase 2 to be outlook based intranet to contain policies / procedures / strategies / guides / RCH Matters / Ask the Chief facility etc OD Manager / Phase 1: July 2014 Phase 2: April 2014 OD Business Transformation Establish a communications working group for RCH Matters Monthly publication of staff newsletter; cross team / Directorate input and ownership; focus for monthly team meetings in line with published Management Arrangements / Communications Working Group November 2013 OD Establish and support Ask The Chief facility Develop an on-line method of anonymous staff queries and questions to the CEO; answers posted on the intranet. From July 2013 Organisational Development Establish and support Team RCH Staff Briefings Initiate Team RCH briefings across all teams; bi-monthly and involving all staff; particular focus on the Steps To Excellence change programme and River Clyde Way. Employee of the Month to be confirmed at the briefings, CEO / Executive and Governance Support Manager / SMT and service managers From July 2013 Organisational Development Communications Protocol Review the protocol to ensure it meets current requirements; ensure all staff are provided with a copy of the finalised document. November 2013 Organisational Development Establish annual Staff Awards event and celebration Support and promote annual staff event to promote performance, customer care, going the extra mile and best practice. OD Manager / SMT / December 2013 Organisational Development 19

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