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Developing a Communications Strategy and Toolkit for the USDA National Organic Program
Nexight Group developed a comprehensive communications strategy for the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to drive more consistent communication to NOP’s diverse stakeholders and ensure each audience effectively implements standards for producing and handling organic food.
Diverse Stakeholders and the Need for Consistent Outreach
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) develops and enforces national standards for the production and handling of organic food and interfaces with a very broad and diverse community of organic stakeholders—including farmers, retailers, third-party certifying agents, agricultural inspectors, consumers, and other government agencies. Each audience has very different information needs and motivations, making it difficult to effectively communicate critical information. NOP needed a comprehensive plan to ensure that the organic industry receives the right information, at the right time, delivered in a way that drives key audiences to take the right actions.
An Audience Analysis, Gap Audit, Communications Framework, and Outreach Toolkit
- We interviewed more than 30 key stakeholders across the organic industry to uncover each audience’s unique information needs, communication preferences, motivations, priorities, and impressions about current NOP outreach.
- The resulting audience analysis developed from this information helped NOP better understand their stakeholders, what wasn’t working well with current outreach strategy, and how best to address these shortcomings.
- Nexight audited NOP’s extensive collection of outreach content, website content, and existing outreach methods.
- We then compared this baseline with the results of the audience analysis to highlight the gaps in NOP content and outreach that limited effective communication.
- As a result of our analysis, we recommended that NOP consolidate their suite of materials, harmonize messaging across content, and develop a central framework to guide more consistent and streamlined communication.
Using the results of the audience analysis and gap audit, we identified a series of recommended tactics to address NOP’s communications challenges and expand its reach through an audience-centric approach. These included:
- An easy-to-follow table linking the recommended tactics to both the challenges addressed and NOP’s strategic objectives
- A breakdown of target audience characteristics, motivating factors, and content and channel preferences to aid content development and dissemination.
This framework gave NOP a foundation to improve engagement with its priority audiences that was informed by its priority audiences.
With a deeper understanding of stakeholder needs and a sound framework to approach stakeholders from, Nexight developed a comprehensive toolkit to help NOP easily share critical information through strategic, targeted, and visually impactful outreach materials. This toolkit includes:
- A visual branding guide that outlines components of NOP’s visual style (e.g., color palette, font choice, logo use and placement, content hierarchy)
- Easy-to-use document templates (e.g., fact sheets, slide decks, newsletters, internal reports) that leverage and elevate NOP’s visual identity as a trusted authority on organic
- A library of icons, graphics, and photos relevant to organic agriculture that clearly illustrate NOP’s key messages and can be easily applied to outreach campaigns
- A redesigned home page and revised information architecture for the NOP website, leveraging UX best practices so that target audiences can quickly find the information they need
- An editorial calendar that highlights events and outreach opportunities based around key audiences and stakeholders
- Sample articles, blog content, and social media posts to draw attention to NOP’s digital presence
Nexight delivered a comprehensive communications framework and outreach toolkit to guide NOP through future outreach to the organic industry, resulting in:
- Timely distribution of critical information that the organic industry needs to stay up to date and in compliance with frequently changing organic standards and policies
- Audience-specific methods and channels that broaden the reach of communication
- Consistent, repeatable messaging that highlights NOP’s core values and mission
- An easier-to-navigate website with content better aligned to stakeholder needs
- Cohesive visual branding and a distinctive look and feel for all outreach
More effective communication enables a clearer understanding of the organic rules and policy updates, more precise implementation of the organic standards, and ultimately helps NOP achieve its mission to protect and build trust in the USDA organic seal.