Communications Strategy

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1 Communications Strategy Background The Probation Board (PBNI), established as a publicly appointed Board in 1982, is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body of the Department of Justice. It plays an important role at each of the key stages of the criminal justice process at court, in custody and in the community. The main strands of the Probation Board s work are to: Assess convicted offenders and prepare approximately 10,000 reports annually, to assist decision-making in the criminal justice process Supervise approximately 4,000 offenders at any given time Provide a range of services to offenders in prisons Provide behavioural change programmes Offer a Victim Information Scheme Work with partner organisations to manage the risk posed by the most serious offenders as part of the Public Protection Arrangements Communications within PBNI In January 2010 after the appointment of the last board a communications strategy was approved by senior management and the Board and from that strategy there have been 3 annual communications plans. In the last 3 years we have developed and maximised internal communications: After examining the staff survey conducted in 2008 we launched in January 2010 Probation News a new monthly newsletter. To date there have been 35 issues of Probation News published. Two readers surveys have been carried out (2010 and 2011). In the last survey in 2011 over 100 people responded. 95% said they read Probation News. 81% said they wanted it electronically. After listening to what staff said in the culture survey in 2011 we formalised the structure of how we recognise staff achievement and nominate staff for awards both internal and external awards. We have also provided staff with internal messages, key facts cards, key messages and an updated intranet with relevant staff sections, so that staff are equipped with the information to act as ambassadors for the organisation. Page 1

2 We held staff days which focused on health & wellbeing and business planning. In the last 3 years we have developed and maximised external communications* through: Increasing output of the number of press releases, media briefings and interviews that have been conducted. In 2008 we put out 4 press releases, had 1 media enquiry and 4 interviews/articles. In 2012 we put out 55 press releases, had 29 media enquiries, 14 interviews/opinion pieces. We have developed a social media strategy including a Twitter site and youtube channel. We have developed and redesigned PBNI website. We have developed a corporate DVD. We have developed the PPANI communications subgroup and chair this group. Omnibus survey carried out Northern Ireland in 2009 and again in In the 2012 survey just over two-thirds of survey respondents (68%) had heard of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland. This is a slight increase to the finding in the 2009 survey of 65%. In the last 3 years we have developed and maximised public affairs through: Appointing a dedicated public affairs officer. We hosted the Justice Committee on 2 occasions. We have briefed the Justice Committee members on a range of issues including victims, community sentences, PPANI, reducing offending. We held an event in the Long gallery to launch the PPANI annual report. We have arranged a number of local events for area managers and local stakeholders. In order to try and determine what MLAs thought of us, PBNI commissioned a COMRES survey of MLAs in December 2008 and again in December The second survey found that Over the past two years the proportion of MLAs rating the PBNI as effective rose by 15% (from 42% to 57%). This is a greater rise than any of the other organisations in the criminal justice sector surveyed. PBNI has improved its internal communications, external communications and public affairs functions as evidenced through internal surveys and COMRES survey. There has been increased mention of PBNI in Assembly debates with positive references to probation and the NI Justice Committee argued for PBNI involvement in Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) and in relation to increased funding for PBNI. Page 2

3 Communications strategy for PBNI Communications work for will be underpinned by the following assumptions: PBNI want to build on the work that has been achieved to date and continue to raise awareness of PBNI brand and work internally and externally. PBNI is operating in a climate of challenging financial circumstances. The aim of the Board is to make local communities safer through challenging and changing offenders behaviour. PBNI will be designated members of PCSPs. Building effective partnerships will be a critical element of PBNI work. PBNI will seek to be open and transparent and engage with the media and the wider community about elements of its work that it is legal and practical to do so. The strategy for Reducing Offending Framework will be implemented. Aim of the Strategy The aim of this communications strategy will be to encourage engagement and consultation with internal and external audiences and increase understanding, awareness and confidence in PBNI and the criminal justice sector. From this strategy there will flow more tactical and detailed annual communication plans. Audiences The audiences which PBNI seeks to engage with include, Board members, PBNI staff, unions, criminal justice partners [including prisons, police, youth justice agency, parole commissioners, court service], elected representatives including councillors, Policing and Community safety Partnerships, interest groups, community and voluntary organisations, DOJ officials, Executive Ministers and special advisors. Key messages The Probation Board has a key role in working to keep communities in Northern Ireland safer and preventing people becoming victims of crime. Probation is about turning lives around and rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders back into communities. A large proportion of offenders supervised by PBNI have mental health problems and over 70% have problems with substance or alcohol misuse. Page 3

4 All probation officers are social work trained staff and that is a key element in probation s success in preventing reoffending. The reconviction rate in NI across all community supervision is lower than in England and Wales. The Probation Board is value for money. The cost of probation per household in NI is much less than in England and Wales. PBNI has finite resources which it is using in the most effective and efficient manner in order to carry out its functions. Objectives of the strategy The objectives of this strategy will help ensure the public better understand the role of probation in making communities safer; that opinion formers and stakeholders understand the work of probation and can appreciate the key role PBNI has in criminal justice; and that staff feel they are being communicated with in a timely and accurate way. Specifically it aims to ensure we: Engage and consult with internal audiences, in particular PBNI staff. Build awareness and confidence within communities of the contribution PBNI makes to preventing re-offending. Ensure opinion formers and stakeholders have a greater understanding of the work of PBNI and the environment in which it operates. Delivering on the objectives Therefore in the next 3 years we will seek to engage and consult with internal audiences, in particular PBNI staff through: The development of updated key messages for the organisation. The development of a staff forum on the intranet to exchange views and promote engagement. Carrying out a staff survey to seek views of all staff. Develop a system of monthly podcasts from managers and staff. Having a communications plan in place to support the Organisational Development Strategy. Having a communications plan in place to support the Corporate Planning process and outcomes from that process which might include revised branding of PBNI. In the next 3 years we will seek to build awareness and confidence within communities of the contribution PBNI makes to preventing re-offending through: The development of new corporate literature for PBNI. Page 4

5 The development of the Irish Probation Journal. The development of social media in the organisation. The development and implementation of communication plans for Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP) and the co-located Victims Unit. Chairing the PPANI communications sub group and leading on PPANI strategic communications. The development of a communications plan to support managers participating in PCSPs. The development of events to engage media in PBNI work. The development of briefings for key journalists. In the next 3 years we will seek to ensure opinion formers and stakeholders have a greater understanding of the work of PBNI and the environment in which it operates through: Meetings with the Justice Committee. Meetings with MLAs and Executive Ministers. Organising local stakeholder events for area managers. Development of lunchtime seminars for Board members and stakeholders on relevant policy issues. Development of seeing is believing series of visits. Development of an external newsletter for stakeholders. Evaluation A yearly communications plan will be developed and reported to senior management and the Board. A media audit will be carried out at the end of each year to determine volume of proactive and reactive media coverage. A monthly communications report will be provided for the Board. Page 5

6 Media Engagement Protocol Annex 1 This protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities for PBNI in relation to communications with the media. PBNI has a responsibility to communicate with the media within the confines of the law. PBNI has a duty to safeguard the confidentiality and integrity of information, which must be balanced against the duty to be open and transparent wherever possible. PBNI in its communications must not in any way impinge upon ongoing legal cases. All staff and Board members should be encouraged to play a role in being advocates for PBNI through their daily business activities. All requests for media spokespersons for PBNI must be co-ordinated through the Communications Unit and media messages delivered in line with the communications strategy. The Chairman will lead on all communications with the media on Board related matters. On occasions where deemed appropriate, the Chair will sign off on all communications by Board members with the media. In principle communication leads will be the Chairman of the Board on Strategic matters, the Director or his delegate on Professional and operational matters and the lead responsible member of staff on operational matters when an issue occurs. PBNI social media guidelines should be adhered to. It is good practice, to have a member of communications staff present at all meetings with a journalist and a record of conversations should be made. Page 6

7 Amount Media Statistics Annex 2 Table 1: Statistics over 5 year period Press Releases Media Enquiries Interviews Other Media coverage Prepared lines for enquiries Graph 1: Comparison by media item Media Audit Comparative Statistics Press Releases Media Enquiries Interviews Other Media coverage Type Prepared lines for enquiries 2012 Page 7

8 Amount Amount Graph 2: Comparison by year Media Audit Comparative Statistics Year Press Releases Media Enquiries Interviews Other Media coverage Prepared lines for enquiries Proactive and Reactive Table 2: Overall proactive and reactive activity Overall Proactive Overall Reactive Graph 3: Overall proactive and reactive activity Overall Proactive and Reactive activity Twitter Year Overall Proactive Overall Reactive Page 8

9 By May had 226 followers and by November this had grown to 292. As of 14 February 2013 the PBNINews account has 355 followers. During the lifetime of the account there have been 380 updates, 148 direct mentions and 178 retweets. Engagement is by the very nature of PBNI and its work limited, but the engagement that has taken place has been positive. The PBNI twitter account is also connected to Klout to provide a form of evaluation on how influential PBNI is. This will go up and down on a daily basis with a full score based on a rolling monthly basis. May 2012 PBNINews had a Klout Score of 17 and was regarded as a Dabbler, meaning PBNI is considered as possibly just starting out or maybe not that into it. As of February 2013 the Klout score was 40. This has been maintained since last evaluation in November Twitter PBNINews TOTAL Followers 355 Following 135 Updates 380 Mentions 148 Retweeted 178 KLOUT 40 Website Twitter continues to be a very useful platform for raising the awareness of PBNI and its website. During 2010 to 2011 referrals to the PBNI website from Twitter was 231, the fourth largest referral site (7%). During 2011 to 2012 referrals to the PBNI website from Twitter was 340, the third largest referral site (8.5%). In the first 6 months of 2012 to 2013 referrals to the PBNI website from Twitter was 196, the largest referral site (14%). From November to as at 14 th February 2013, Twitter referrals to the PBNI website was 154 and stays the largest referrer. YouTube Youtube was introduced in October 2012 to help launch the PBNI DVD. Since October the PBNI channel has had 994 views (as at 14 February 2013). The awareness of this channel has been aided via the PBNI website and twitter account. Page 9

10 Communication Action Plan Annex 3 The following actions have been developed to deliver our aim and objectives. Each section has been broken down in external communications, public affairs and internal communications activity. Internal Communications 1. We will carry out a staff survey to seek views on all staff in relation to internal communications after the OD strategy has been developed and approved. 2. We will review Probation News as a tool for internal communications for PBNI by August We will set up a staff intranet forum to allow for better staff engagement by December Public Affairs 4. We will organise meetings with representatives from all political parties on the Justice Committee by June We will identify a range of MLAs and Councillors throughout which PBNI needs to raise awareness with and carry out a series of meetings in in local areas. 6. We will hold an event in the long gallery to engage with MLAs by December External Communications 7. We will develop new corporate literature following the award of a new print and design contract for PBNI by September We will implement the communication strategies for Reducing Offending in Partnership and co-location of Victim Information Scheme. 9. We will develop a communications plan to support staff participating in PCSPs by September We will develop social media channels for PBNI by December Page 10

11 11. We will place an article in business magazine in relation to importance of employment in enhancing rehabilitation of offenders by August We will place 6 articles/interviews or feature pieces in daily print media in relation to probation work throughout We will work to highlight area managers role in PCPSs and local community safety initiatives through regional papers. 14. We will seek two opportunities to highlight work of probation in broadcast media in Page 11

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