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Developing a strategy for success

You know your organisation best. We listen, bring out those strategic insights, and use them to help you design a new approach to communicating.

Project type: strategy and analysis

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) is a global coalition of civil society organisations campaigning for transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

In 2016, after many years of successful campaigning and exponential growth – to 700 members in more than 50 countries – PWYP faced a transition. New CEO. New(ish), small, London-based secretariat. Ready to review its work amid evolving priorities and political contexts. 

We carried out a strategic, in-depth review to develop a ‘roadmap’ for PWYP’s communications. Working closely with the secretariat, we identified their strategic goals, strengths and areas for improvement, barriers to success, and a set of recommended – and costed – actions.

"As an advocacy organisation with hundreds of members with different priorities and needs, a small secretariat and only one communications staff member, we needed help to figure out how to strengthen our communications: to streamline activities and establish clear goals so we would be more effective and not driven by a reactive and ad-hoc approach."
Alexandra Malmqvist
Communications Officer, Publish What You Pay
Why a communications roadmap?

Any good map tells you where you are and how to get to where you want to go. It places you relative to other locations, and explains the geography around you. It shows your destination, your distance from it, how to get there, and what challenges lie along the route. 

Like any good map, ours needed to be clear, detailed and practical enough to take PWYP’s communications to where they needed to go. 

We made sure it provided:

  • The current location: a rigorous analysis of their communications
  • The surrounding geography: the organisational, operational and political context
  • The route, potential obstacles, and ways around them
  • The destination: more effective, successful communications

Photo: brainstorming from our communications workshop.

Getting everyone’s buy-in

We know that to implement a roadmap successfully, everyone has to be on board. The whole secretariat would need to see the value of our proposed changes, how these could support their work, and how they could support the transformation of communications. 

Over two days we carried out some very lively participatory workshops with the whole PWYP team. They began to coalesce around their key communications priorities and audiences, and identified the same internal and external challenges to communicating successfully. 

Working with this small, committed team – and mining their expert knowledge of their work, the membership and the key organisational challenges – a clear picture soon emerged. Their insights meant that we could confidently identify the current context for PWYP, future communication priorities, and some exciting possible next steps.

"Smith&Brown quickly understood what it means to navigate the multiple needs and priorities of the many different stakeholders involved within our movement, and I especially liked how they ensured that staff were really involved in the whole process."
Alexandra Malmqvist
Communications Coordinator, Publish What You Pay
Navigating the way to a clear destination

We took these insights and explored them further with the communications team and senior management, while referencing our own analysis of PWYP’s communications tools, platforms and outputs. 

We summarised our findings and recommendations in a 10 page report that outlined five strategic goals for PWYP’s communications, analysed key audiences, and evaluated current communications tools and activities and their impact.

"The work gave me the tools to turn a reactive communications function into one that was more strategic, organised and focused on achieving the organisations long term goals."
Alexandra Malmqvist
Communications Coordinator, Publish What You Pay

Most importantly, the report assessed the major internal and external challenges faced, and made recommendations for how the PWYP communications team could address or mitigate them. Finally, it proposed a set of concrete, costed actions, organised into four areas of focus.

Implementing the recommendations and proposals laid out in the roadmap helped PWYP to transform their communications. With a clearer focus, they were able to support their membership and engage key audiences more successfully. 

Following this success, we’ve continued to work with PWYP to develop a full communications strategy, and to help deliver communications training for members from across the coalition.

Smith&Brown's participatory, inclusive approach was key to creating team buy-in, and to anchoring the work in our organisational values, mission and goals. I appreciated how they helped us map and address gaps in our communications and the practical, actionable recommendations put forward. As a result, our communications platforms and products are now more engaging, conveying our core identify more effectively and drawing more attention from key audiences.

Elisa Peter, Chief Executive, Publish What You Pay