The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program needed strong messaging and new communications strategies to better demonstrate its expanding reach and role to policymakers, industry stakeholders, media, funders and others.

Among the challenges they asked Ward Circle to meet: a looming deadline to change to a new organizational website which demanded a quick yet thoughtful new message strategy and associated copy, tone and imagery to more effectively portray and bolster the impact of the program’s critical work.

Discovery

We performed an intensive landscape analysis and asset audit and conducted interviews with program leaders and Institute-wide brand managers to establish both internal expectations and requirements and external competitive and media realities. We presented the client with a report summarizing our findings and preliminary options and then facilitated a half-day session with program leaders and staff for feedback and input to guide our final recommendations.

Development

We created a new message platform to connect the Program’s face with real day-to-day financial security issues facing Americans. We developed brand and messaging guidelines and language that would help program staff and communicators veer away from overly wonky and dry verbiage especially when addressing policymakers, the public and current or potential program backers. And we shared general and specific guidance on an array of strategies and tactics. including

Execution

We worked in parallel with staff during the initial execution phase, implementing changes to the website and social media platforms and creating and editing new message tools including thought leadership blogs, newsletters, fact sheets, earned and social media outreach templates and providing ideas for conference swag.

We conducted informal leadership message training and then transitioned to an advisory role for the second phase of execution to assist internal communications staff continue further implementation.

Results

Our work helped the Program secure funding partnerships with two major foundations, drove increased interest in the organization’s work, promoted local, state and national policymaker awareness and bolstered media coverage and stronger social media traffic.