MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY

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1 In MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY Prepared by: Verity Calderbank EIA Required? Date effective from: 01/03/2016 EIA Completed? Policy approved by: Click here to enter name. Revision number: Click here to enter number. Review Date: 14/01/2019 Lead officer: Verity Calderbank

2 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Marketing and Communications plays a vital role supporting any organisation achieves its business goals. It ensures the right messages are sent to the right audience and accurately reflects the strategic narrative that the organisation wishes to convey. It plays a significant role is creating motivated, well informed staff and provides the right messages and campaigns to make any organisation become more profitable. Stockport Homes values this role and is committed to effectively communicating with customers and stakeholders, and to marketing its services and products across a range of media channels. Focus on the future growth and commercial development of the organisation, coupled with the delivery of clear communications to staff, are essential to the success of Stockport Homes. 1.2 Stockport Homes has an excellent reputation locally, nationally and regionally and this is protected and enhanced by a professional approach to sharing key messages, managing urgent reactive responses and developing positive ongoing relationships with stakeholders. This strategy supports the ongoing development of good internal communications, and using recognised and emerging channels to maximise the impact of messages, 1.3 This Strategy supersedes the Communications Strategy and replaces the Social Media Strategy It will ensure Stockport Homes maintains a marketing and communications service that complements the business needs of the organisation. It is supported by an action plan at Appendix A which will be reviewed annually. 2 CONTEXT 2.1 The communications landscape has changed significantly over recent years, with an increasing choice of channels available for engagement with customers and other stakeholders. Demand has increased for an interactive social media presence and often for instant responses. Technological advances and channel shifting 1 among customers have also impacted on expectations with, for example, an increase in Stockport Homes customer website use of 40 per cent in Providing messages that are clear and concise remains the focus for Stockport Homes, together with recognition of the need for varying styles, approaches and frequencies for different audiences. The growing importance of developing relationships between teams across the organisation and providing specialist advice to enhance and promote new and emerging projects/services and products is central to this Strategy and Action Plan. 2.3 This Strategy is in line with Stockport Homes vision to Transform Lives and its aims to: 1 'Channel shift' is defined as the creation of effective and efficient channels that are most appropriate for the customer and organisation. It is in an organisation s interests to encourage customers to use channels which are more convenient for them and less resource intensive for the organisation

3 Exceed customer expectations and always do the right thing Support customers in all aspects of their lives through effective partnership working Create greener places to live and work and continually minimise our impact on the environment Develop our thriving, safe and sustainable neighbourhoods, maximising our contribution to meeting housing need Involve customers, staff and the board in decision making and create opportunities for them to fulfil their potential Grow by making the best use of our resources and diversifying into businesses that complement what we already do 2.4 In the 2014 STAR survey, 91 per cent of customers said they felt Stockport Homes keeps them informed about things that might affect them, which was a 3.9 per cent improvement on the previous survey in This upward trend in satisfaction is a positive sign and the introduction of the new website in early 2016 will increase the volume of traffic as it will work much better across a range of devices. 2.5 Staff consultation, through staff voice, discussions at team meetings an online survey in 2015 about levels of satisfaction with how we communicate highlighted the need for personalised communication. Variations in technology and the range of Worksmart 2 approaches adopted mean that one approach does not suit everybody. Plans for a more agile and mobile workforce require a culture change which will be reliant upon proactive internal communication that is responsive to changes in technology and demand.. The link between employee engagement and communications will be developed further to ensure that key messages and strategic narrative are conveyed to staff, helping the organisation to be change ready and ensure staff remain satisfied with communication. 3 BACKGROUND 3.1 Recent achievements in communications at Stockport Homes include: The delivery of the Intranet, The Hog. This allows interactive communication and collaboration between staff across a range of devices and platforms. It was designed and launched with Hog Champions from across the organisation to facilitate better collaboration and to provide news and information in a timely manner. It encourages staff to share updates and blogs and has been populated with up to date procedural and reference information. The Hog Champion network continues to provide training to new users, to encourage staff to make best use of it and to contribute 2 Worksmart is the terminology used to describe increasingly agile working, particularly in preparation for the new headquarters where fewer staff will be desk or office based

4 towards future development plans. Staff consultation via Staff Voice has taken place to help shape this strategy for the future delivery of internal communication. Close links between staff communications and staff engagement will be further developed to provide a high quality service for the organisation. An increase in positive press coverage of 12 per cent during 2014/15, in particular around award success. Regular and well-timed press releases containing high quality photography are provided to local and regional press as well as national industry publications. This helps maximise the coverage achieved and showcases the successes of the organisation in a cost effective manner to a wide ranging audience, although national print coverage in the housing press remains limited because of Stockport Homes position of not paying for advertising. Regular contact with magazine journalists to build and enhance relationships and has started to demonstrate success with some larger scale coverage for Stockport Homes. Successful campaigns to support commercial activity. Marketing plans for repairs and facilities management work in schools and care homes, along with the launch of an independent website and a targeted campaign to take the Carecall Service outside of Stockport were developed during 2015/16. These made good use of market and competitor analysis. The outcomes of these campaigns will be made clear from 2016/17 in terms of additional revenue and new contracts/customers. The increasing demand for marketing services has shifted the focus of the service and this trend is projected to continue. An increased digital presence through social media. The previous Social Media Strategy focussed on the successful launch of Facebook, Twitter and You Tube accounts. Customer demand for interaction through social media continues to increase and new social media platforms are regularly launched. A Flickr account has been established to share photographs externally along with a business Linked In page for professional networking. Further research is on-going into the use of other channels. The use of social media to support large scale campaigns through bodies such as the National Housing Federation has increased in popularity and Stockport Homes will continue to work in this way to support Housing related campaigns in the future. Facebook campaigns that have included paid for adverts, for community events have proven to be successful, increasing target audiences by up to 25 per cent. This method allows choice for audiences based on gender, age and location. Future campaigns will use this type of advertising, where appropriate, reducing the need for printed materials for some campaigns. The print contract in place continues to provide a value for money service and is achieving efficiency savings of 4390 per annum. This will be retendered during 2016/17.

5 Successful use of paid for campaigns on Facebook. This is a low cost way to boost engagement and has generated increased interest in events like the Community Count. It allows for a targeted approach to reach a specific audience, based on location, age range, gender etc. and is proving to be more effective than traditional printed material. The Community Count event in 2015, for example, had three times the number of projects put forward for funding than the previous year. 3.2 The success of recent Marketing and Communications activity and the continuing need for clear communications for customers and professional marketing for business growth have been used to identify the strategic objectives for the next three years. 4 STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES & OUTCOMES The strategic objectives for are: 4.1 To improve communication with customers Stockport Homes aims to provide a high quality responsive, and interactive digital customer journey. Central to this is engagement with customers to develop a website that encourages self-service and reduces avoidable contact, regardless of the device they use. This links to other initiatives, including the introduction of a customer relationship management (CRM) system and development of one customer number which will collectively enable seamless and interactive online service provision It is increasingly important to maintain quality and use communication in an appropriate way as media options increase. Stockport Homes will put more emphasis on targeting messages to specific audiences in order to maintain and increase levels of customer trust and engagement and ensure dialogue with harder to reach people The provision of clear literature for customers in the form of leaflets, newsletters and annual reports will continue to be essential. Regular audits of the information provided and effective use of customer feedback will ensure it continues to meet customer needs. Customer feedback in terms of style and content will continue to be utilised to ensure customers are satisfied with the information provided Stockport Homes generates lots of communications with customers (rent letters etc.) and as part of providing an efficient and value for money service a review will be completed to streamline these messages The use of paid for advertising and promotion through social media has seen positive results in comparison to more traditional methods and its use to support specific marketing campaigns, particularly targeting young people, will increase.

6 4.2 To provide innovative and effective communication for stakeholders Stakeholders are people who have an interest in the work of Stockport Homes, include individuals, groups and other organisations. Having clear channels of communication in place with stakeholders, including partner agencies remains a priority for Stockport Homes to promote services share relevant knowledge, and have clear information to signpost customers to further services. Effective communication ensures that they receive information that is relevant to their needs and builds positive attitudes to Stockport Homes 4.3 To provide innovative and effective communication within Stockport Homes Ensuring that staff receive clear and timely information is essential to the culture of Stockport Homes, providing channels for two way communications increases moral, instils a sense of belonging and ensures continuity Use of the intranet for staff communication and collaboration continues to be a significant method of internal communications, in response to Worksmart, supported by a broader internal communications framework, identifying the key lines of communication for staff and selecting the most beneficial for the audience. Understanding the preferences for channels in different areas, remains a priority and there will be continuous development in this area to ensure a personalised approach. By working closely with the Organisational Development Team, use of different types of communication methods available will be implemented. This will ensure that teams and individuals without constant and internet will receive communications in a way that is suited to them and will encourage further staff engagement and satisfaction, particularly during times of change with the move to the new HQ. The links between engagement and communications will be optimised to ensure maximum sharing of the strategic narrative of Stockport Homes. This will ensure that staff understand change, the direction of the organisation and their role within it. 4.4 To manage and enhance the reputation of Stockport Homes Maintaining an on-going reputation for excellence is essential to Stockport Homes continuing success and the development of its business. A positive profile locally, regionally and nationally for being more than a landlord and for transforming lives is supported by success in winning awards and resources will continue to be devoted to this aim. During 2016/17 a review of the approach taken to bidding for awards will be completed and this will inform the future resourcing necessary. Best practice seminars will be promoted to share expertise with peer organisations, as both an income earning opportunity and to enhance Stockport Homes reputation as a top performing ALMO Stockport Homes will continue to build positive relationships with local Councillors, and MP s, providing them with opportunities to learn about services

7 provided. Lobbying locally and nationally on housing issues will be of continuing importance. This relationship is extremely important for the success of the organisation, giving the opportunity to explain successes and enabling growth and change with political support. It also ensures opportunities for input into local area improvements, consultation opportunities, and raises the profile of Stockport Homes, therefore increasing the impact of the organisation when lobbying. Being recognised as a high performing organisation enables positive bids for funding and grants, and for new business opportunities, therefore the promotion of excellent performance, innovation and success remains a priority for Stockport Homes The opportunity to showcase achievements to other organisations will remain significant, not only in enhancing Stockport Homes reputation but as a means of generating income. There will be a commitment to the resources devoted to this area of work, with the development of an on-going programme of good practise seminars The overall brand image for Stockport Homes is recognisable but, as a result of diversification into a number of different business areas, development of a corporate brand strategy is becoming increasingly important. Architecture for this will be developed, taking a house of brands approach. This will allow each product or service to be branded in accordance with the overall brand strategy to ensure it is complimentary and supportive of the overall reputation and image. The Marketing and Communications Team will lead on the research, scoping, launch and management of the new brands, and of subsequent marketing campaigns to support business growth. 4.5 To use the latest developments in technology to maximise communication The new website uses the latest technology to allow future integration with other systems. Increasing demand in the sector for online web chat is a key consideration and its introduction will complement the service offered by the contact centre teams, allowing real time enquiries to be handled through the website and CRM. The linking of the website and CRM will create a detailed user history and allow for more joined-up working across teams. Customer profile data collected in this way will support a more personalised approach to engagement, ensuring the most effective method is used. The demand for selfservice online from customers continues to increase and Stockport Homes will continue to promote and encourage customers to use this channel. Internally, the Hog will continue to be developed and trends around interaction monitored. Advice sessions will be available to support staff with building and managing their own digital profiles Consultation with customers around digital engagement has been key to ensuring Stockport Homes on line information is interesting, relevant and accessible. The customer roadshows in both 2014 and 2015 were designed to speak to customers about the equipment they use to access online services, and to engage with them about what they wanted to see on the Stockport Homes website. The new website was launched during February 2016 and

8 provides the platform for additional online services to customers to come online. The website project will continue to develop, with links to the CRM project, ensuring that customer self-service is optimised. The aim to increase self-service through the website will continue to be a priority for Stockport Homes. This drive will improve customer access, and ultimately lead to a reduction in reception visits and telephone calls The website will use sticky content 3 on repairs, finding a home, looking for jobs and making online payments. To ensure that the sticky information available is representative of customer demands, analytic information from the website will be used, along with customer feedback and consultation Maintaining knowledge and gathering best practice for developments in technology remain a priority for Stockport Homes, to ensure that customer preferences are satisfied and emerging trends in communication styles are offered. Utilising search engine optimisation is essential for the sale of shared ownership properties, and developing trends in this area will continue to be carefully monitored and utilised. 4.6 To support channel shift across Stockport Homes Promotion of self-service and on-line options and effective monitoring of usage patterns will facilitate channel shift, enabling decisions to be made about which Stockport Homes services to offer online based on customer access trends. The potential efficiencies from channel shift are significant and are central to reducing avoidable contacts. 4 The number of customers accessing interactive web services, visiting offices and doing business over the telephone will be monitored and this data used to support customer journey mapping across the range of access points. This will drive service improvement and help Stockport Homes to manage surges in demand at an operational level and broader patterns in demand at a strategic level. Maintaining knowledge of customer access routes, and the devices they are using to access information remains a priority and the website in particular will be focussed on mobile first ensuring information is optimised for customers. 4.7 To support the organisation s commercial priorities Delivering commercial services that complement Stockport Homes core business will remain a priority as this income is reinvested in core services. As new business initiatives emerge the provision of effective marketing will be essential to their success and growth. Product development and marketing will continue to be based on effective market research, including: target audience analysis; market reach and penetration rates; and forecasts about return on 3 Sticky content refers to content which is designed to get a user to return to the site or hold their attention for longer periods of time. This builds up a community of returning visitors. 4 Research carried out by Badenoch and Clarke shows that the cost of a telephone transaction is 5.00, a customer enquiry handled at reception costs and an online transaction costs 0.17p

9 marketing investment. Good practise will be shared across the organisation to help facilitate learning. The skill set within the team will continue to be developed in order to retain knowledge and professional expertise to engage with service delivery teams to ensure that opportunities are maximised, business plans for growth are developed and the success of campaigns monitored. Marketing services will continue to be offered to developing partnerships and projects such as the TPA 5 and WIN 6. As services are expanded to deliver commercial contracts, support for completing tenders and bids will be available. This will be an area of growth within Stockport Homes and will have resource implications The look and feel of publications has been refreshed. The move towards a more modern design and image, with an increased use of photography has been the outcome of customer consultation over publications including the annual report and newsletter. The brand for Stockport Homes will continue to develop during with new guidelines being developed, taking into consideration the new company structure that will be formed during 2016/7. The Marketing and Communications Team will be providing branding guidance and leading on ensuring the reputation of the core business is not effected during commercial growth. 4.8 To minimise the impact on the environment The Marketing and Communications Team will continue to monitor publications, and seek feedback on their effectiveness from customers and staff. Alternative ways of sharing information with stakeholders will continue to be pursued and in line with channel shift, we aim to increase the number of customers receiving digital information A reduction in printed material will reduce our carbon footprint and lower our contribution to ink wastage. Suppliers of printed material will work with us to ensure we are using the most environmentally friendly printing methods and doing so in a sustainable manner. This is reflected within the print contract. 4.9 To communicate change throughout the organisation Over the coming years, there are many changes that will affect Stockport Homes, and ensuring that communications are clear and two way is essential to maximising the impact and understanding of messages. Ensuring that staff feel informed on a regular basis will have a positive impact on, motivation and reduce the risk of confusion and uncertainty. The link with staff engagement will be increasingly significant during periods of change, such as through the embedding of Worksmart and the move to the new HQ, and this will continue to be reflected within the supplementary action plan. Sharing the journey around change is of increasing importance within the organisation and ensuring that messages are timely, accurate and proactive are essential to staff support 5 TPA Targeted Prevention Alliance 6 WIN Wellbeing and Independence Network

10 5 PROPOSED OUTCOMES 5.1 The implementation of this strategy will deliver the following outcomes: To improve communication with customers Website responsiveness, increased availability of transactional services online and the integration of a CRM system help reduce avoidable contact and encourage channel shifting. Visitor numbers to the website and the use of self-service will increase and therefore reduce costs for the company and hopefully increase satisfaction as we have a more responsive service. Stockport Homes social media audience will grow, which will increase the engagement with customers and provide increased opportunities for two way communication in real time. To provide innovative and effective communication for stakeholders Communicating regularly with stakeholders and creating a positive understanding of Stockport Homes will help to build effective long-term relationships with key groups and individuals. Stockport Homes maintains a stakeholder list which is reviewed regularly and updated. This ensures that key messages can be targeted to the correct groups or individuals, leading to more interactive communications, particularly via social media, To provide innovative and effective communication within Stockport Homes Two way communications, through internal communications channels, including the use of modern and preferred methods for staff, will result in increased staff engagement and satisfaction with communication. A well maintained and interactive Intranet that engages staff from across the organisation, will result in increased staff engagement, and deliver clear, consistent messages. A positive staff perception of Worksmart that is supported by planned communications and staff engagement. A closer link with staff engagement and the development of a communications/engagement plan.

11 5.1.3 To manage and enhance the reputation of Stockport Homes Successful award bids used to maximise publicity and raise the profile of the organisation locally, regionally and nationally. Positive press coverage levels and a professional approach to handling press enquiries in a timely manner and encourage positive relationships with journalists. Supporting and promoting best practice seminars for Stockport Homes to other similar organisations, sharing the innovative approach taken by the organisation to transform lives, produces an income and demonstrates the strengths of the organisation. A corporate brand vision will be managed to ensure Stockport Homes reputation and positive image is maintained whilst allowing commercial growth To use the latest developments in technology to maximise communication Increased search engine optimisation to enable customers to find information quickly and easily online 7, increasing web traffic and reducing enquiries through other communication channels. Intelligent use of customer insight data to drive web content, and social media messages to ensure maximum impact or information for customers and to drive continuous improvement, leading to an increase in customer satisfaction with how well informed they feel. Ensuring a central role is maintained in the Customer Excellence Group, to support the CRM project, and ensure the links to the website are enabled, tested and proven. Further links with this key project to promote the migration for customers to one number will be essential to the success of the changes, and maintain customer satisfaction with contacting Stockport Homes. To continue to work with the Digital Inclusion Team to promote and share information with customers, to maximise the possibilities of online service transaction, supporting people to get online to access services available from Stockport Homes. This will increase web traffic, and reduce avoidable contact. The increased use of digital communications by customer groups will be monitored and usage will be recorded for trends by the marketing and communications team to show progress and have a clear understanding of demands for information and conversation. 7 Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) -- including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

12 5.1.5 To support channel shift across Stockport Homes Online services will be increased leading to a reduction in calls and reception visits, and provide better access for customers to be able to selfserve at a time that is suited to them, leading to improved customer satisfaction. Technical knowledge across the team to be able to offer a wide range of opportunities to the organisation to deliver further online services will contribute to an increase in customer satisfaction with access. The Stockport Homes website will act as the catalyst for further channel shift initiatives across the organisation. The developing links with CRM will enable further services to be delivered online, to meet customer demand and to best serve our largest group of online customers; time busy families, accessing information on tablets and smartphones To support the organisation s commercial priorities The provision of specialist marketing knowledge will ensure that the reputation of Stockport Homes is protected and enhanced during business growth and diversification, Brand Management across Stockport Homes will ensure that growth in different areas is targeted to the correct audience in a consistent style through an overarching brand vision. Individual campaigns will be managed and developed across the organisation to increase income and opportunities for business growth To minimise the impact on the on the environment To maximise the relationship with the print contract supplier, through monitoring of performance, budget and efficiencies, continually aiming to reduce the amount of printed material produced and utilise digital communications where appropriate. Ensuring that the carbon footprint of Stockport Homes is minimised through the print contract, and ensuring suppliers have an ethical approach to waste recycling and environmental management. Ensuring that information is available online, and is written in a clear manner. Customer consultations will be carried out both digitally and through customer focus groups to inform the content. The provision of information online will reduce the number of printed copies of publications necessary.

13 5.1.8 To communicate change throughout the organisation Effective change management will ensure that staff remain motivated and engaged. This will ensure the goals of the change are achieved and continue to make Stockport Homes successful. 6 EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) 6.1 All printed materials are provided in jargon-free plain English, with clear signposting in the six most frequently read local languages that translations into other languages are available on request. This group of languages is reviewed annually. 6.2 Stockport Homes offers interpretation on demand through the Stockport Interpreting Unit and the Manchester Deaf Centre and information in alternative formats 8 through A2i transcription services. Staff are clearly signposted to these via the Intranet. 6.3 The Stockport Homes website needs double a of the World Wide Web (w3c) web content accessibility guidelines, version 2.0, which is the standard required to provide the most effective user experience online. Browse aloud is also available on the website. 6.4 Stockport Homes has adopted the Royal National Institute of Blind People s (RNIB) clear print design guidelines, and continue to use best practice for font sizes, styles and the use of image and space. FS Me font is used for customer facing information and publications because this exceeds the government standard for typeface accessibility. 6.5 There are 167 customers (as of January 2016) who are recognised as needing support with literacy. Where staff are aware of these support needs, verbal communication is provided. The Equality impact assessment for this strategy was completed in May 2015, and as part of this, improvements to the website in terms of a more prominent accessibility bar have been developed. 7 LINKS TO POLICIES 7.1 The Communications Strategy has links to; The Business Plan The Delivery Plan The Service Improvement Plan Staff Engagement Strategy The HR Strategy (Social Media aspects) 8 Including large print, coloured paper and Braille

14 The IT Strategy (Social Media aspects) Digital Inclusion Strategy The Social Media Strategy Customer Involvement Strategy/Action plan 8 OWNERSHIP, MONITORING & REVIEW 8.1 This Strategy will be delivered from within existing staff and budgetary resources. The Communications Manager will monitor its implementation, in conjunction with the Head of Business Excellence. 8.2 The effectiveness of this strategy will be monitored through: Customer feedback in the Star Survey Use of the website, intranet and social media sites Staff feedback regarding communication Implementation of the new Stockport Homes website The volume of positive press coverage Staff Satisfaction levels with communication through survey responses 8.3 This strategy will be reviewed in January 2019

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