Communications strategy, execution and support for high-profile public services
Stakeholder engagement and advocacy
KSS CRC asked Eterna Partners to provide strategic communications support through contract negotiation, transfer and mobilisation of a large and complex public services contract in 2019. After the incumbent provider of probation services in Wales and southwest England went into administration, the Ministry of Justice appointed KSS CRC to deliver the service which involves supervising thousands of criminals in the community. The high-profile service is high-risk and the challenges were compounded by significant underinvestment and low staff morale.
KSS CRC needed to set out a credible plan for improvement, implement its new model and build trust of stakeholders in a new region. This activity had to be closely coordinated with commissioners of the service and communications counterparts at the Ministry of Justice.
Eterna was appointed to support KSS CRC during the contract negotiation period and was fully embedded with the team, setting the communications strategy in support of business goals.
Eterna developed a complete internal and external communications strategy, engagement and plan covering contract negotiation, transfer and the first 12 weeks of operation. This included crafting messaging and multi-channel content such as materials for employee briefings, videos about KSS CRC services, new webpages for members of the public and suppliers as well as key lines for media and stakeholders.
As the previous provider announced it had entered administration at 3pm on a Friday afternoon, we began our carefully choreographed communications plan including all-staff communications, engagement with suppliers, delivery partners and local and national politicians and media. Our work was coordinated closely with the Ministry of Justice and Eterna also provided 24/7 media relations support and media monitoring.
A caseload of around 20,000 people under probation, hundreds of staff members and supplier relationships were successfully transferred with no disruption. Suppliers and members of staff commented on social media that the KSS CRC’s information and rapid communications answered their questions and provided reassurance. Independent inspection reports published later referred positively to KSS CRC’s approach and delivery of staff engagement. More than a hundred pieces of news coverage incorporated KSS CRC’s key messaging. The mobilisation period laid the foundations for successful relationships with strategic stakeholders, suppliers and regulators.
KSS CRC chief executive, Suki Binning, said:
“Eterna Partners helped us to keep the service running by ensuring staff, suppliers and partners had confidence in our record and our plans to turn around the service. Without doubt, this ensured we kept communities protected during a very challenging and unusual contract transition. It also helped us to lay the foundations for constructive and collaborative relationships with partners in the region as we transitioned the service to radically new ways of working."