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Case study: How to define an online communications strategy

Posted on Feb 23rd, 2012 by

how to define a communications strategy
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A few weeks ago, I facilitated a communications workshop for the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), a research program from the CGIAR, the global partnership of nonprofit agricultural research centers.

CPWF’s research concentrates on “How to manage water more equitably, efficiently and sustainably”.

We locked ourselves up for a week, to realign the organisation’s key communications messages and tools, and to integrate an online communications strategy, as a key component of a strategic communication approach.

This case study summarizes the process we followed, from a redefinition of an overall communications strategy, into the online web presence, and further down to practical workplans, reach/impact measurement and risk mitigation.

Each part gives a generic summary of “the theory” with an example how we translated this “theory” in practical terms.

Click on each step for more details.

Step 1: Define your general communications strategy
    1.1: Identify your key messages
    1.2: Identify your target groups
    1.3: Identify your communications tools
    1.4: Identify your messages and tools for each target group

Step 2: Identify and improve your core content
    2.1: Identify existing and needed core content
    2.2: Improving web usability

Step 3: The practical planning
    3.1: Define your workplans
    3.2: Measure progress, reach and impact
    3.3: Define quality control and risk mitigation

While this case study is, of course, geared to the work of CPWF, the process we followed can be used in many other cases.


The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) kindly allowed me to use examples and extracts from our communications strategy workshop.

All examples attributed to CPWF in this case study, should be read as draft ideas. I published them in their raw format which doesn’t necessarily reflect the final and approved versions.

With a sincere thanks to the CPWF staff in the workshop: Alain Vidal, Amanda Harding, Tonya Schultz, Michael Victor and Ilse Pukinskis.
Michael and Ilse also contributed large parts to this post and were crucial in the success of the workshop.

6 Comments to “Case study: How to define an online communications strategy”

  1. Hello Peter, I am so grateful to read about this online strategy. For my easy of reading through, do you have like a pdf file of this content which I can print and read offline?

    Thank you and I will be grateful to hear from you soon


    P.S: I like your diagrammatic summary of the whole strategy

    • Peter says:

      Hi Robert!

      Glad you like it…!

      No, I don’t have a PDF file of it. It is a good idea, though. Might do in the future.
      For the time being, you can print it with one of the social icons at the bottom of the post, though.



  2. Alice says:

    thank you for the information on how to define an online communications strategy, very helpful!

    (crossposted from the KM4DEV mailing list)

  3. Davide says:

    It is incredibly well written. Very specific. So concise that I wanted to make it into a presentation and I ended up copy-pasting almost everything.


  4. Vanessa says:

    I think it’s fantastic. Very logical and VERY practical! I especially liked the end bit with the metrics for measuring reach and impact


  5. [...] else has passed this way. I learnt that Peter Casier has developed a similar metaphor in his work for CGIAR on social media strategy. Peter uses the metaphor of candy and shops, where the research item is the candy, the site the [...]

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