Canadian Environmental Law Association Communications Audit

As a legal service provider, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a vital force in law reform and as a public educator. CELA produces immense amounts of valuable information dealing with environmental law issues in Canada.

Despite this wealth of materials and information, CELA is challenged by how to efficiently distribute these resources to the people that need them most. Current approaches to communications are very staff and resource intensive. At the same time staff are already over burdened with other work and do not appear to be reaching the desired audiences as effectively as they could. CELA is also challenged by the competing communications priorities and a feeling that they have ‘too much to do’ in the area of communications.

CELA hired The Commons Group to conduct a communications needs assessment and strategy that would at once provide practical, short-term advice. They also asked Commons help raise the funds needed to create a new, easy-to-manage web site.

Client Goals

  • Analyze how time is being spent on communications efforts and isolate inefficient approaches
  • Make recommendations with regard to human resource load
  • Develop new, more innovative strategies to reach the CELA’s core audiences
  • Create the basic outline of a long-term Internet and information management strategy
  • Identify funding sources to support a new communications strategy and web site redesign

User Consultations

As a part of our user consultation service, The Commons Group udertook an audit of CELA’s external communications efforts. This process included interviews with communications staff, an examination of CELA’s primary communications vehicles and a meeting open to all staff to discuss initial findings. During this process, The Commons Group looked at:

  • CELA WWW site
  • The CELA newsletter
  • Outreach to the media
  • E-mail information requests and responses
  • Existing computer systems and databases
  • Partnerships, projects and campaigns
  • Client intake procedures
  • Production processes
  • Presentations and print documents
  • Staff capacity

The findings were tabulated in a report with a set of recommendations for CELA management and board members. Based on the recommendations in the report, The Commons Group also wrote a series of funding proposals for a web site that will support CELA’s Children’s Environmental Health Partnership project.

The Result

As a result of this project, CELA has improved the efficiency of its communications processes and has moved on to a new, large-scale communications effort focused on Children’s Environmental Health. Internal changes such as new job descriptions, enhanced e-bulletins, a redesigned web site and a modified approach to the production of the print newsletter have emerged from the Commons communications audit. Start-up funding for the Children’s Environmental Health Partnership web site has been secured and work on the project has begun.

The Commons Group continues to provide project management and partnership development services for the Children’s Environmental Health Partnership project.

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