Engagement and Communications

Lee Halterman

Partner
Send me an email
703-839-5519

A Marstel-Day Success Story

Marstel-Day provides communication and engagement services for our clients who need their stakeholders to receive their strategic communication messages effectively, accurately, and in a timely manner. One of our major ongoing projects assists a U.S. federal government client with the establishment of a large-scale training location, which includes land and airspace acquisition. Working with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, Marstel-Day transforms critical insight into successful outcomes that protect national security, enhance conservation, and maintain public access to desert recreation areas.

[ + MORE ]

Marstel-Day staff facilitated the development of a strategic communications campaign plan, which established a framework for project execution, including establishing milestones, identifying risks, coordinating engagement roles across multiple organizations, identifying key stakeholders, and providing message statements for specific audiences.

Sustained, deliberate engagement efforts by our client, guided by Marstel-Day, continue to have critical impact as the project moves forward. Strategies developed by Marstel-Day staff facilitate the collaborative management between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and our client, providing a common ground to achieve our client’s training requirement, while enhancing the economy of the local community. Marstel-Day continues to provide strategic engagement direction and guidance for communicating the ongoing land use changes and environmental efforts in the training area.

[ - LESS ]

Facilitation

“The direct and committed involvement by the representatives of Marstel-Day was a key factor in our ability to successfully conduct a workshop of this magnitude and importance”

Marstel-Day staff help our clients organize and facilitate effective public meetings, charrettes, workshops, negotiations, and information sharing sessions. This includes meetings convened under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public participation process. Our staff resolve difficult problems and facilitate the clear translation of complicated technical facts and data to the “lay person,” by developing meeting and workshop materials and facilitating interactive exchanges that are tailored toward each specific audience. They can also uncover creative ways to leverage capabilities and resources to reduce costs and find shared values, and to develop strategic stakeholders and alliances. For the workshops and meetings we facilitate, our staff have developed multimedia training and outreach products and communications materials to reach our clients' desired goals and objectives, all while achieving maximum participation.

We retain a team of knowledgeable facilitation experts, many of whom are certified and have years of on-the-job experience. Many of these facilitators have undergone a rigorous training regimen from the National Charrette Institute and/or are professional facilitators certified through the International Associate of Facilitators (IAF) and the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). If the occasion demands it, we have certified mediators who have the experience and toolbox to professionally navigate parties through conflict to reach positive outcomes. Our staff elegantly play the third-party role to buffer our clients from sensitive situations and topics.

We work to fully understand the issues, associated concerns, affected public, and interested stakeholders.Through continuous client interaction, as well as the right combination of in-depth background research and analysis, stakeholder interviews, and comprehensive media monitoring, our staff gain a fuller appreciation and deeper understanding of the range of interests and the magnitude of the issue(s) of concern, in order to engage appropriately through a well-designed, interactive, and properly facilitated meeting that focuses on the needed outcome(s), rather than the process.

We work closely with our clients to personalize the facilitation and workshop approach to meet their expectations and achieve their purpose and objectives. The Marstel-Day Team has experience across the full spectrum of venues. This includes areas such as organizational management, strategic visioning, scenario-based planning, strategic simulations (environmental war gaming), information gathering, relationship building, decision-support, and project development. We take the time, upfront, to consult with our clients regarding their expectations and desired outcomes. This allows us to custom-design an approach that best meets our client’s needs.

Marstel-Day’s facilitation skills are award-winning. The American Planning Association named the Army Community Partnership Program the Outstanding Collaborative Planning Project for 2015, citing the “value of a deliberately developed process for public engagement and partnership building among diverse community services.” Marstel-Day supports this exemplary program and is helping to expand it to other clients across the United States.

Public Involvement

The NEPA public participation process varies across federal agencies; our staff have experience with a wide variety of agency processes. Marstel-Day staff are skilled in preparing for, and implementing, the public involvement process required for NEPA. From issuing public notices, to facilitating and properly recording public meetings and workshops, our staff can help clients navigate the sometimes complicated and lengthy NEPA process in order to satisfy all requirements and support effective public involvement.

Marstel-Day supports the design, delivery, documentation, and evaluation of Public Participation Plans and other guidance documentation. These plans are designed to serve as a guide for public engagement by defining the internal and external components of the communication and engagement process. Clear, concise plans provide citizens, affected public agencies, key stakeholders, special interests, or others with reasonable opportunities to be kept informed and involved in the decision-making process.

We make special efforts to incorporate a range of communications and outreach materials and approaches into our public involvement process, as well as offer a variety of engagement techniques, to involve the widest range of interests. We are sensitive to the needs of special population groups, including members of traditionally underserved populations, such as minorities, those of low-income, the elderly, the disabled, those with limited English proficiency, and those with limited mobility. When designing events and developing informational materials, we work with our clients to recommend approaches that encourage interaction across all interested parties.

Communication Strategies

“Marstel-Day is committed to customer satisfaction. They are professional in every sense of the word. They are exceptionally committed to providing quality products, as requested, and on-time. I would highly encourage any organization who requires their services to employ them.”

Marstel-Day staff recognize that effective communication is an important skill set all members of an organization must have to excel at their job. We harness our on-the-job expertise and technical skills to train a client’s staff on how to apply the most up-to-date communication strategies and techniques. Marstel-Day has experience developing computer-based training modules, as well as creating in-person training presentations and materials. Our team of engagement experts work with each client to identify specific training needs and develop support materials based on specific concerns and requirements.

Marstel-Day staff know that without proper upfront planning, outreach and engagement efforts may fall short of their intended purpose. We have developed strategic communication and engagement plans for various sectors that include engagement goals and objectives, an outline of personnel roles and responsibilities, stakeholder identification and prioritization, and talking points geared toward specific audiences and topics, among other engagement methodologies. The scope of each plan varies widely from client to client; our staff takes the time to listen to a client’s expectations and needs throughout the process in order to tailor the content of the plan and modify it, as needed.

Our staff take time to learn about our clients and their concerns, so that we can develop clear, concise message statements for them to use organization-wide. The importance of speaking with one consistent voice cannot be overestimated. Marstel-Day staff are experienced in developing message statements for specific, diverse audiences, based on input from the client and in-depth analysis. This messaging is used in outreach publications, in social media campaigns, for public speaking engagements, and for other productive interactions between a client’s staff and its stakeholders.

Outreach Materials

Marstel-Day is dedicated to finding innovative, creative ways for making complicated topics and issues accessible and understandable to as wide an audience as possible. We work with our clients throughout the process to develop outreach materials and interactive exchanges that encourage public understanding and facilitate consensus-building among interests. Our science communications specialists concisely capture technical information and convey it in a way that is understandable and applicable to specific audiences.

When creating multimedia products and exhibits, we involve our clients throughout the process, carefully listening to their requests and applying their suggestions. At the start of a project, we meet with clients to better understand their expectations and desired outcomes, we determine who the target audience is, what the content of the informtion should be, and how the client wants to disseminate/display the information. Our graphic designers and production team work closely with the outreach team, sharing ideas and applying innovative concepts to the content, layout, and design.

Our staff are proficient in a variety of design and production programs, enabling us to create a wide variety of outreach materials. These programs include Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, as well as Final Cut and Tricaster. The materials we develop can be in print or electronic form, and include infographics, pamphlets, posters, factsheets, Web and social media content, videos, livestreaming events, smart phone apps, and more. Marstel-Day integrates "green" practices into the production process, where feasible, such as using recycled paper and eco-friendly ink for printing.

Stakeholder Awareness

Identifying stakeholders, their interests, and their ability to affect outcomes is essential for successful engagement. Marstel-Day researches issues and topics of importance to our clients to determine which stakeholders may have an interest in, or some relation to, those particular client areas. In order to promote effective stakeholder interaction, Marstel-Day assists our clients in determining the proper alignment of client staff and engagement methods, as well as timing and frequency of contact. Engaging stakeholders at the appropriate time, with the right level of personnel, is critical for successful engagement. We gain greater stakeholder awareness through interviews, distribution of comments cards and surveys, and media monitoring, as well as Internet and document research and analysis.

Marstel-Day staff are well-versed in the planning, preparation, application, and assessment of various types of surveys for assessing stakeholder awareness (customer-oriented, market-based, demographic). Staff follow basic tenants for any type of survey we design and deliver, including timeliness and responsiveness to the stated need, and alignment with the type of project as well as the intended project objectives. The Marstel-Day team has extensive experience providing the entire spectrum of survey services across phone, mail, Web, and in-person methodologies. Our team is experienced in developing research designs using quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methodological approaches; developing research instruments; overseeing data collection and analysis; and implementing quality assurance techniques. Regardless of the audience, or type of data to be collected, Marstel-Day staff have the knowledge and expertise to fulfill client requirements.

Marstel-Day is at the forefront of understanding legislative and regulatory developments that may affect a client’s mission and bottom line. Our staff review, track, and, when necessary, conduct in-depth impact analysis of newly proposed or updated legislative bills and regulations, and can help a client develop policy, guidance, or operating procedure adjustments, as needed. We use various legislative/regulation tracking services, as well as proprietary software, to stay informed on policy changes that may affect our client’s mission. We also use frequent monitoring of the media (newspapers, blogs, television, etc.) to ensure that emerging issues are detected early and raised to the client's attention before they become real problems.

Engagement Support Tools

Marstel-Day has created proprietary engagement support tools that can be adapted for use with a wide variety of clients to facilitate stakeholder engagement. These tools include a media and legislation/regulations catalogue, where we store articles, press releases, newly released legislation, and other media-related information that is relevant to our current clients. Using that information, we can generate weekly, monthly, or ad hoc reports for our clients that summarize each article’s contents and analyze its importance to the client. These reports can be customized to include client branding, additional analytic fields, and password-protected access, depending on client preferences.

Marstel-Day created a stakeholder relationships database that captures pertinent information about stakeholders: how to contact them, what topics they are interested in, how they have engaged with the client, and their relationships with other stakeholders. The database also has a robust GIS mapping capability that uses Google Maps data, which can be integrated into other programs for mapping stakeholder locations, their regions of influence, and other geospatial relationships. Our staff can generate spreadsheets of stakeholder information for our clients from this database, or develop client-specific, modifiable databases. In addition, they can develop static or interactive stakeholder maps by using information within the stakeholder relationships database. The functionality of this tool allows for customization of end products, depending on the scope of a client’s needs.

Our staff constantly are looking for new ways to enhance engagement through the use of web-based tools, including interconnectivity between the media catalogue and the stakeholder relationships database. They look forward to working with clients on the creation of modifications to existing tools, and the development of additional tools in the future.