This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.
The Strategic Communications KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid those leading or supporting communications in education in understanding the history, value, framework, planning, and execution of effective Strategic Communications to nurture and build strong relationships in education. Strategic Communications is essential to engage stakeholders and achieve goals at the state level. The elements, activities, and tasks in this KnowledgeBase are designed to better prepare communications professionals within state education agencies (SEAs) to plan for and respond to communication challenges and support implementation of education policy.
Task 1: Understand the role of organizational structures in Strategic Communications
Guideline: Nearly each SEA is organized differently. Organizational structures include formalized vision, mission, values, and goals; strategic plans; policies and procedures; organizational charts or divisional groupings; task forces, standing committees, and cross-divisional teams, and these structures vary from SEA to SEA. The way in which strategic planning and policy-making is connected to communications functions likely varies with each of these structural differences. For example, an agency with a formalized strategic plan may have communications strategies embedded in that plan, whereas another agency may have a more informal mechanism for aligning communication activities with essential goals and initiatives. Some SEAs have established formal policies for communicating directional changes across divisions and units, but others have only informal processes that may not be followed consistently.
Furthermore, each SEA assigns communications functions and strategic planning tasks to units, divisions, individuals, or groups based on a variety of factors. For example, one SEA may situate a communications unit within the organizational chart so that there is direct communication with the Chief State School Officer who is leading strategic planning, whereas another SEA may distribute communications activities to each academic division based on their assigned components of a strategic direction.
Regardless of how communications functions are assigned, it is critical that the individuals responsible for Strategic Communications have access to those setting and implementing the strategic direction. They also need access to the right tools and resources as well as the professional learning opportunities appropriate to enhance their skillsets for this purpose. This task explores the considerations of an SEA as it develops its Strategic Communications structures, assignments, and processes.
In 2012, Harvard Business Review provided these four steps to building a strategic communications capability, addressing the structural considerations for implementing a Strategic Communications process.
This December 7, 2011, non-profit blog explores what skill sets communications teams should have to meet the demand of being more strategic.
Edelman executed a benchmarking study to survey how 36 different corporate communications teams are structured and utilized.
Cinc offers a presentation on how to break through the old paradigm of organizational structures for marketing and communications teams to meet the changing demands of the modern age. These recommendations prove instructive for Strategic Communications structures in SEAs.
The Building State Capacity and Productivity Center offers examples of how two SEAs (Arkansas Department of Education, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education), have formalized their vision, mission, values, goals, and strategic plans and revised other structures to support a process of Strategic Performance Management.