Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open spaces in and around Silicon Valley for the benefit of all who live, work and visit the area. After completing a strategic planning process around its 40th anniversary, POST emerged with a mandate to reach a wider audience and oversaw an internal reorganization that introduced many new program areas. In order to communicate its now multi-faceted activities to increasingly diverse audiences, POST needed to overhaul its core messaging.
After conducting a full messaging audit of POST’s materials and competitors’ messaging, LCI recognized a disconnect between the new POST and its longtime communication practices. Because of many invested stakeholders, a 360-degree collaborative process was necessary to bring all parties into alignment. LCI applied the “Golden Circle” approach to identify not only the “what and the “how” of POST’s core identity, but to surface the “why,” which is what creates emotional engagement with potential audiences.
The LCI team conducted more than 20 interviews with POST’s many internal and longstanding stakeholders – leadership, staff and board members. Questions about whom the organization serves, why they do what they do, and what differentiates POST from other conservation organizations helped to surface the core values of the organization. LCI then distilled the feedback and created a messaging architecture that connected the existing “what” and “how” messaging with three key areas of benefit that POST creates – the social, economic and environmental benefits of land conservation that constitute the “why” for external engagement. LCI solicited factual proof points from POST’s internal subject-matter experts to support the various messaging claims. LCI also worked with POST’s human resources team, which was conducting a simultaneous DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) audit, to make sure that POST’s external and internal messaging were aligned.
LCI shared messaging iterations with various working groups within POST every step of the way. These sessions not only provided useful feedback loops for the LCI team, but ensured eventual “buy-in” from POST stakeholders at all levels. Final wordsmithing choices were tested via survey with a randomized group of POST supporters (new and old). This facilitated data-driven decision-making that is necessary to quell the internal opinionating that is always a risk with group-think exercises. The final step was to train all relevant audiences on the key messages so they can be articulated clearly and consistently.
POST now has a complete set of messages – updated mission and vision statements, along with program-specific messaging – that it is incorporating into every communications channel. This exercise revealed a need to rework POST’s website, as well as its printed materials, fundraising presentations and more. The new messaging is more of an evolution than a revolution, which is entirely appropriate to an organization with a wide array of stakeholders and collaborative partners who are long established.