Identify activities that achieve the outcomes in the most direct way possible. Don't assume that when a communications activity - for example, a new web site or webpage - has been implemented that the intended audience has, in fact, been exposed to the communications.
Efforts to obtain good press are customary and expected of agency Communications. While such positive press campaigns can be effective in placing stories – especially when the agency is able to give journalists access to real people who illustrate effective work and programs – there are caveats. First and foremost, just getting a newspaper to publish a story has a limited impact because the agency cannot be assured who in fact will read it. Second, public opinion surveys confirm the general public - defined as people who have no direct business or dealings with public child welfare - rarely demonstrates significant sustained interest in public child welfare work. So, trying to affect perception among people who have little or no opinion regarding public child welfare work to begin with is a daunting task.
However, positive news coverage can be used to affect perception of key stakeholders with whom the agency has built relationships – including staff, providers, foster parents, advocates and policy makers. Such engaged stakeholders do care and have opinions about public child welfare and their perceptions of the agency can be measured. If the agency compiles an email address listserve or distribution list of such stakeholders, the agency can then send these stakeholders a link to the good news story on the agency web site. Staff can get the link via internal email praising the good work of their colleagues and the agency.