Strategic Communications

What’s the glue that holds together your organization’s strategic vision? Your marketing outreach? Your social media plan?

It should be a focused and flexible strategic communications plan that identifies themes and core messages that will deliver your company’s authentic voice. A strategic communications plan that aligns with business goals, engages people in your mission and ensures you’re not just talking, but listening and learning too. A strategic communications approach that builds community and recognizes the value of high tech and high touch.

Every business, media and marketing plan is about a destination – a place where your company meets your customers, your members, your stakeholders. It’s where change occurs, action happens, results are made. Cardea is about building the communications roadmap to help you get there.

Among the services we provide:

Full Circle Communications

Ever feel like you were channeling George Bernard Shaw when he said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place?”

With endless opportunities to communicate available 24-7, ensuring the right messages are delivered to the right audiences, at the right time, still matters. Cardea evaluates all your communication assets to assess how effectively your organization is telling your story, and how others are sharing your story. What tools are you using to be part of the conversation? To listen? Is your organization’s voice clear?

Our Full Circle Communications Assessments track how the impact of your organization’s communications matches up with business priorities. We look at web content, social media, internal communications, leadership deployments, media and marketing strategies. If there are gaps, our assessment will find them and the integrated communications plan we’ll deliver will help you fill them. The result is that all important full circle – where the telling is joined with the listening, and a community of engagement is created and sustained.

Research and Message Strategy

Got data? Now what?

You’ve spent a chunk of change on a poll, focus groups, online surveys. But, can your organization turn those pie charts and graphs into an effective message strategy that gets you the results you need?

Public opinion data is only useful if it helps build a narrative that will cause people to take an action, make a donation, buy a product or change behavior. We are message strategists and can help on the front end ensure you are building your research tools to find out what you actually need to know. Then, when all the data is in, we build that all important communications plan to get the full return on your research investment.

If you’re wondering what to do with all that data, contact us. Cardea specializes in making cogent sentences out of bar charts and percentages.

Advocacy Communications

Ever consider that you might be cursed? Or your program teams? Well, it’s possible …

We call it the Curse of Knowledge. Often times because policy and science teams know so much, their knowledge – and how they share it – may be overwhelming and get in the way of motivating people to take action. Language becomes inaccessible and leads to disconnection, rather than connection.

Cardea is all about messages that stick. We have helped scores of policy teams translate complex policy-speak and scientific information into words that the rest of us can understand and relate to. Key to our work with program teams is Cardea’s 3-D approach: Message Development, Message Delivery and Message Discipline. We take time to evaluate the audiences you need to deliver your message to – what do you need from them, what do they need from you? We then apply the RPM-Design™ tool and develop messages that match the needs of audience groups, and create the emotional connection that inspires people to take action. User-friendly Message Guides are provided to demonstrate how to use the RPM and supporting message architecture to frame your campaign strategy and keep your teams on message. These guides are supplemented by Message Trainings.

RPM Design™

You don’t need a big research budget to improve your advocacy or marketing communications. Cardea has created an innovative tool to help marketing and policy teams identify the most salient messages to deliver to consumers and key constituency groups.

Applying branding strategies from the corporate world is the key element in Cardea's RPM Design™, created initially for nonprofits. Using individual surveys and a workshop format, Cardea clients identify their "distinction," "brand promise," and "destination" among other areas. The process helps to identify a RPM — repetitive persuasive message – and builds the foundation for more effective communication strategies to increase visibility and brand position.

Message Trainings

Your staff person is a great team leader, articulate and passionate when talking about the program inside the office… but in front of an audience, well… not so good.

Sound familiar?

Our message trainings will help your staff and grassroots volunteers engage audiences with impact, emotion and authenticity. The trainings focus on the message and the delivery, and include skill building in presentation design and mastering the front of the room to empower your staff and volunteers to effectively engage audiences important to your mission. Cardea’s 3-D approach to strategic communications focuses on three pillars: message development, delivery and discipline. Our innovative RPM-Design™ helps develop the most salient messages that will move people to action. Our Message Trainings focus on the delivery and discipline. And, a vital part of message delivery and discipline is listening to what’s delivered to you. Our trainings also focus on how to improve your organization’s listening skills and expand contact with internal and external audiences.

Labor Communications

Are labor negotiations always contentious? Always adversarial? The answer depends largely on communications strategies that promote business literacy, a common purpose and that develop trust over the long term. Cardea has extensive experience designing and implementing integrated communications strategies that advance the goals of the collective bargaining process and improve labor relations.

Marketing Campaigns

Jennifer Jones and Barbara Raab Sgourous have worked together for nearly 20 years creating award-winning direct marketing, fundraising, branding and public affairs campaigns. As strategists and creative problem solvers, Jennifer and Barbara develop results-oriented solutions delivered through the most compelling visuals and persuasive messages. The creative portfolio includes advertising (print, TV, outdoor), B2B, direct marketing, media kits, white papers, newsletters, nonprofit direct mail fundraising, web content, program collateral, and public service announcements.

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Organizational Effectiveness

Cardea’s network of consultants are organizational development professionals who have worked with a variety of businesses and nonprofits to improve performance and organizational effectiveness. Among our services in this area, Cardea offers:

Executive Coaching

If there is one universal comment we’ve heard from executives it's this: "It's lonely at the top." Cardea offers Executive Coaching to help clients make the right decisions for their companies and themselves. Cardea principals have coached leaders in a variety of industries; those who may simply need someone to bounce-off ideas in confidence, or someone to help them through a difficult transition, a merger, acquisition, or a company transformation. We are certified coaches dedicated to meeting executives where they are and helping them (and/or their executive team) get where they need to go.

Rising Star Coaching™

Organizations are full of young, eager, aspiring professionals who sometimes trip over themselves in pursuit of achievement and recognition. Cardea has specific interest and experience in helping young managers navigate through the turbulent waters of organizational dynamics. Rising Star Coaching™ helps young managers develop effective leadership skills to keep up with their business acumen. In the fast-paced business environment, too often young managers are told to "sink or swim." When the sinking starts, some companies throw out a life preserver, but only after employees get into trouble. Rather than wait until something goes wrong, Rising Star Coaching™ offers young managers the support they need to realize their full potential as leaders.

Team Building

Cardea has worked with teams in diverse settings to help improve team performance. Our approach is grounded in systems-thinking and group process development. We focus on the entire enterprise and the various forces impacting the team and individual members.

We believe every group has the potential to improve and we open the door to that potential through facilitation, team building and individual coaching.

By observing interactions and heightening contact between team members, we can help teams:

Training and Facilitation

Cardea has expert facilitators available to design and facilitate retreats of varying sizes, from a department retreat to Open Space Technology and Future Search. Cardea’s expert facilitators work directly with supervisors and team leads to assess where teams need to go and then we design retreats to help them get there.

We also offer training in:

Change Management

Cardea offers a simple, yet effective model that an organization can use to measure its own commitment to a change initiative. These CORE™ elements are necessary to ensure the hard work of assessing the need for change and designing strategies for change are followed by an organizational commitment to implement the change. The CORE elements are: Communications; Ownership; Resistance;  Engagement.

CORE serves as a check list for effective change initiatives. If an organization is not attending to these CORE elements, the change initiative is likely to be only a vision on paper.

Conflict Resolution

Cardea partners with Coleman Raider International to offer conflict management and resolution training. Under the direction of Susan Coleman, J.D., M.P.A., Coleman Raider helps individuals and organizations use conflict constructively as a catalyst for growth and creativity. Coleman Raider's highly interactive and skills-based training materials have been used to train tens of thousands of people around the world. Participants learn how to resolve differences in a constructive and creative way and improve relationships in the process.

Planning and Implementation

The Cardea team offers a unique and innovative approach to strategic planning for businesses and nonprofits that ensures that plans don't sit on a shelf and collect dust. Our goal: To enable flawless execution of an organization's vision at every level.

Our clients will tell you that using the visionary approach to strategic planning and strategy execution developed by Melissa S. Kelly-McCabe at Clear Intent Strategy propels them farther and faster than any previous process they have utilized.

The resulting strategic agenda forms a roadmap that takes the company from its "current state" to its long term objectives, while simultaneously honing in on the key elements of capacity building, marketing strategy, and communications (and with nonprofit clients, board development and fundraising strategy).

Strategic plans are nothing more than words on a page if they are not accompanied by an implementation plan that provides the structure to deliver on the promise. Therefore, the Clear Intent approach:

NonProfit Management

Cardea team members have worked with more than 50 nonprofits on strategic planning, fundraising, board development, and communications challenges. In addition to having held positions as Executive Directors, Vice Presidents, Development Directors and Board members, as consultants, the Cardea team has guided the development and execution of strategy resulting in action, increased visibility and fundraising, and optimized program capacity.

To improve the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, Cardea provides:

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