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UNECE brings statistical organizations together to enhance communications and respond to emerging challenges

How to communicate more effectively with policy makers and the public is an increasingly hot topic within the statistical community. Statistical organizations are facing growing competition from alternative data providers and the traditional ways of messaging are being challenged by the rise of new communication platforms, including online information sources and social media. Taking a more strategic approach to communication is therefore vital in maintaining and enhancing the relevance of official statistics in today’s societies.

The UNECE High-Level Group for the Modernization of Official Statistics identified statistical communication as a key priority for 2018 and is sponsoring a project for the development of a Strategic Communications Framework for statistical organizations. The work was launched last week at a kick-off sprint held in Geneva. The Sprint team, consisting of experts from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom, spent five productive days defining, describing, and developing the key themes on which the project will focus.

Developing a strategic approach to communication

One of the central features of a strategic communication strategy is that it should support the statistical organization’s mission, demonstrate the value of official statistics, and describe the competitive advantage offered by the statistical organization. Communication should be embedded in the statistical business process and all staff should consider the communication aspects of their work.

The project will develop materials to guide statistical organizations in building a professional communication programme, including outlining the skillsets required within a communication team and the steps to assess the maturity of the statistical organization’s communication function.  The project will detail the main elements and steps statistical organizations can follow to develop a comprehensive communication strategy. It also will provide suggestions for an implementation plan.

Being prepared for crises

All organizations face challenges and potential crises. Their impact on organizations depends on how well prepared they are to deal with challenging situations. Establishing issue management procedures will ensure that statistical organizations are ready to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to emerging and unanticipated issues. The project will outline a three-phase procedure - from identifying the issue, to managing the issue, to finally evaluating the effectiveness of the response - that will help statistical organizations to pre-empt and manage issues in a controlled and strategic way.

Understanding branding

It is important to understand that a brand is much more than a logo or a tagline; it is how the organization is living its values and how it is perceived by the public. An effective brand builds trust, gives the organization credibility and differentiates it from others. The project will define what a brand is and why branding is important for statistical organizations. It will also describe the process of positioning, developing, reviewing, and confirming or redefining a brand.

The project team will continue to develop these themes and gather case studies in the coming months. Join the conversation and share your perspectives, using the hashtag #comms4stats.

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