A Strategic Approach to Communications
The Communications Directorate is a key partner in delivering on your mandate commitments and the department’s policy and program priorities. Effective communications activities and messaging are an important contributor to the public’s trust in their government and to supporting the protection of Canadian interests and the well-being of all Canadians.
The department will work with you and your office to ensure that a strategic approach to communicating the Public Safety (PS) portfolio agenda is applied while responding to and managing emerging issues. In particular, this means planning and framing your communications agenda within an overall approach that focusses on advancing your key policy objectives and portfolio priorities, balancing urgent issues with longer-term opportunities and considerations, and taking a proactive approach to advance the public dialogue on challenging topics.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Communications Directorate works in collaboration with your office, departmental policy and program colleagues, portfolio partners, and stakeholders, to provide you with timely information and communications advice to advance departmental and Portfolio priorities. Once communications products are developed by the Communications Directorate at PS, they are approved internally up to the Deputy Minister and then sent to your office for approval before being sent to the Privy Council Office (PCO) for final review.
On individual files/priorities, strategic communications plans contextualize and recommend key messages, tools and tactics for communicating. The communications recommendations of the department balance the need for issues management against the communications objectives of the file and take a number of factors into consideration. These include but are not limited to: the public environment (media, social media and Parliamentary discourse); public opinion research; anticipated audience and stakeholder reactions; opportunities and challenges involving partners and stakeholders; and timelines.
The communications recommendations developed by the department are provided to you and your team through a variety of measures. These include: Weekly Portfolio Communications Calendar calls with your Communications team and communications representatives from each of the Portfolio organizations; Weekly Strategic Planning meetings between the Director General and Executive Communications team and your Director of Communications; briefings with you on key issues (e.g., high profile advertising campaigns); and strategic communications plans, to name a few.
Timelines and Key Dates
The Public Safety Portfolio Communications Calendar is maintained by Public Safety who plays a coordination role across the Portfolio. The calendar maps out announcement opportunities and key communications events to allow for sufficient planning and approval of communications products. After you approve communications products, PCO plays an important role securing final approvals from the Prime Minister’s Office. As a result, PCO requires fully approved products from your office at least 48 hours in advance of any event and they require that all events be placed on the planning calendar 10 days in advance of the event date. Timelines are often a challenge however timely feedback and approvals from your office are necessary to avoid the last-minute cancellation of events (and as a result, frustrated stakeholders and media), to ensure adequate media attendance, and to maintain positive relationships with partners and stakeholders.
For example, external stakeholders we partner with for Ministerial announcements typically require a minimum of 10 days notice to plan an event, as they are often smaller organizations with minimal staff. Joint announcements that involve other Ministers generally require at least two weeks notice given that planning and approvals must be worked up through multiple departments and Ministers Offices.
With respect to marketing, a typical multi-channel advertising campaign requires approximately 6-8 months of preparation from conception to ad delivery.
Lastly, the department’s communications work is guided by the Government of Canada Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, which offers comprehensive guidelines that the Communications Directorate must follow to protect you, the objectivity of all communications and consistency of approach.
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