Branding and Stakeholder Engagement – the Missing Links in Government Strategic Communications and Marketing

This blog was written by:

Jim Mintz, CEPSM and Kathleen Connelly, Intersol Group Ltd.


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw 


The major challenge facing public sector organizations today is that they have great difficulty getting their message out. More important, many can’t seem to get their messages to resonate with their diverse target audiences, including internal and external audiences, stakeholders etc. Most communication and marketing approaches generate some awareness but not much else.  Public sector organizations today are looking for approaches that generate something more substantial like motivating people to get engaged and take action.

This is a common problem with most organizations we work with at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing and Intersol Group Ltd. Many organizations are very focused on tactics, but very few have strategic communications plans to guide all of their activities. They tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Even in cases where they do have a strategic communications plan there tend to be some critical missing links.

The success of any communications effort is dependent on a strong underlying strategy and two main factors: getting the audiences right and telling them a story that matters to them.   Get that right, and everything else falls into place. And this means understanding the internal and external stakeholder landscape and identifying the right opportunities to bring meaning to the messages.

Strategies to increase awareness, support and understanding both internally and externally must include a holistic view of strategic planning, business and operational goals, marketing, communications, creative strategy combined with the granular details required for implementation in areas such as web, social media channels, media relations, inbound content-based communications, outbound marketing, and analytics.

From our experience there are two missing links in many public sector communications plans. Without a branding framework to guide the communications and a full understanding of the stakeholder landscape to encourage true engagement, the best communications or marketing strategy will “fall flat on its face”.

Missing Link #1:  Branding is much more than a visual identity or a tagline for an organization; it’s a core business tool, a strategic platform for both communicating and building value among its audiences.  A brand contains within it the complete value that an organization delivers, a relevant promise that matters to its audiences and is aligned with the organization’s strategic and operational goals.


Branding is a strategic investment. It leads to an improved ability to internalize and communicate organizational vision and mission. A well-conceived brand provides clear and easy to understand principles that guide your communications and marketing efforts. The internalization and integration of a brand leads to the brand promise being lived by everyone who works for the organization, at all points of contact. “Living the brand” means more efficiency, and more return on investment for your communications and marketing dollar. A brand stands for the relationship that an organization has with its employees and partners, as much as it represents the relationship that it has with the people it serves.

Missing Link #2:  Stakeholder Engagement when done well increases the credibility of the organization.  Involving stakeholders and attending to their concerns establishes the organization as fair, ethical, and transparent, and makes it more likely that they will want to work with the organization. For the above reasons, identification of stakeholders and their specific concerns makes it far more likely that the organization’s communications efforts will garner both the support they need and the appropriate focus to be effective.


To be successful, organizations have to rally support for what they are trying to achieve while building and maintaining good relationships with key stakeholders that are integral to future work. The objective is to work with stakeholders in a way that strikes a balance between meeting their expectations while reaching the organization’s communications and marketing goals.

Finally, a number of principles must always underpin and guide stakeholder engagement approaches. They include open and effective communication, a focus on seeking mutually beneficial outcomes, inclusiveness to ensure a variety of voices are heard and engaging in a way that builds mutual trust and respect.


Kathleen Connelly, Senior Consultant at Intersol Group, and Jim Mintz, Managing Partner at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing, have many years of experience working with senior levels of government and bring fresh perspectives on communicating in a public sector environment.  

For more information about our services, please contact:

Jim Mintz | or Kathleen Connelly |


Marketing Workshops Spring 2017

Marketing 101 (for Marketers and Non-Marketers)

March 29, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

This workshop will provide participants with an overview of public sector and non-profit marketing. The workshop will teach participants how to develop a marketing  strategy and plan as well as how to transform a government/nonprofit organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach.

The workshop will focus on:

  • An overview of marketing;
  • Systematic processes and strategic elements for developing and implementing an action-oriented strategic marketing plan;
  • How to set realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals;
  • How to evaluate marketing efforts with practical ideas on how to improve execution;
  • How to develop a client-based mindset in a public sector or non-profit organization;
  • How to use market research to support a decision-making framework;
  • How to develop a system for measuring progress and monitoring performance.



Intro to Social Marketing Planning for Attitude and Behaviour Change

March 9, 2017


343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

Awareness.  Are you getting tired of hearing that word? If you want to move your marketing and communications efforts beyond merely public education and awareness campaigns and into the realm of action-oriented attitude and behaviour change then this workshop is for you


The workshop will focus on:

  • How to use a step-by-step structured approach to prepare a social marketing plan that is actionable, has maximum impact, and leads to successful implementation;
  • How to present and “sell” your social marketing strategy to management;
  • How to implement a social marketing program on a very tight budget;
  • How to monitor and evaluate your inputs/outputs, outcomes and impacts;
  • How social marketing gives you a single approach: for mobilizing communities; influencing the media; activating key stakeholders; and building strategic alliances with business.







Marketing Education should be a Passion not a Vocation

Many years ago I was asked to give some courses at our local university. Although I was a seasoned professional in marketing and had given numerous marketing presentations, including some guest lectures at universities across Canada and USA, I had not formally taught a university course. So I agreed to teach some marketing courses at the business schools in my community first at the University of Ottawa (B Comm and MBA) and later at Sprott School of Business at Carleton University (B Comm). I also had the opportunity to teach a seminar program in the USA at the University Of South Florida College Of Public Health. After close to 25 years I finally gave up my post as lecturer but still run a program at the Professional Programs at Sprott i.e.  Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing.

I also continue to give seminars and workshops at Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) which is devoted to the advancement of strategic marketing in governments, non-profits and associations and are very involved with training and consulting.



I thoroughly enjoy teaching and training. Although I would never want to be a full time academic as I truly believe that in the field of business those who teach business, particularly marketing should be practitioners who work in the world of business every day otherwise the only experience they can draw from is academic readings and research etc.  That may make sense in the social sciences but not in business schools. However, needless to say the vast majority of tenured full time professors in business schools come from the world of academia and many have never worked in business.

Now you would think that these tenured professors who are paid to mainly teach (or you would think so) would actually be teaching and lecturing students who will be our future business leaders of tomorrow. Well, new research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial government agency, finds that the typical teaching load of a university professor has dwindled to less than three courses a year – 2.8, to be exact, just 1.4 courses per semester. A quarter of a century ago, a teaching load of five courses a year (three one semester, two the next) was common.

“There is too much of a flight from teaching and other student-oriented activities,” says Ken Coates, a public-policy professor at the University of Saskatchewan and co-author of the new book What to Consider If You’re Considering University.

So how are the professors spending their time? Research. The system is skewed toward research, because research is rewarded by government grants, promotions and prestige. Clearly, this makes more sense for some disciplines like nanotechnology. But these days, everyone is supposed to be a teacher-scholar, even though there is little evidence that research improves teaching, or that this entire scholarly endeavour is worthwhile. Much of it languishes in obscure, unread journals, doomed to be uncited for all time.

“Publish or Perish” is often heard in the halls of academia. Deans want to know your publishing records although in recent years student evaluations of professors are being used to evaluate professors. But as one professor mentioned to me the professors who might have poor evaluations may be the best teachers as they may be tougher on the students and don’t hand out A’s and are very demanding (a recipe for poor student evaluations)

Universities are unaccountable for results, if, by results, we mean successfully educating students. In the reward system of universities, its research, not teaching, that matters. Professors are rewarded not for turning out high-quality graduates, but for turning out books and papers – even if they are unread. This perverse system stubbornly persists; despite the fact that everyone knows it’s absurd. Some research, especially in the sciences and medicine, matters a great deal to the advancement of society. But a vast amount of it does not.

According to Wharton professors David J. Reibstein, George Day, & Jerry Wind in their Guest Editorial: Is Marketing Academia Losing Its Way? (Journal of Marketing (01-JUL-09) “There is an alarming and growing gap between the interests, standards, and priorities of academic marketers and the needs of marketing executives operating in an ambiguous, uncertain, fast-changing, and complex market-space.

The authors “contend that the gulf between marketing academics and senior marketing and corporate officers has widened. Academics are not listening to marketers’ needs and the issues they confront. The number of academics attending chief marketing officer and other chief-executive officer forums or paying attention to the output is negligible.” (Kind of ironic that marketing academics are out of touch with the potential clients for their information)

In an article Marketing education doesn’t have to be this bad by David Finch, John Nadeau, Norm O’Reilly , the authors state: Unless there are fundamental changes in how undergrads are taught, tomorrow’s talent will enter the workforce disillusioned, ill-prepared and saddled with student debt for years.

So where does this leave us in the world of business especially marketing. If you are a practitioner who works in marketing or communications and want to learn marketing forget about going back to a university to take undergrad or MBA marketing courses. You are much better off taking training programs from seasoned professionals who love teaching and live in the real world where they practice and work in marketing and business every day. I know this sounds like a plug for what we do at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) and of course our professional programs  like the Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing.  But clearly professors who work in universities (with some exceptions of course) are not focused and passionate about educating students .




Get Certified in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

Practical and applicable marketing knowledge for public sector and non-profit organizations

sprott logologo-cepsm

February 8-13, 2015



There is a rising need for highly-skilled marketing professionals in the public and non-profit sectors to effectively bring their organization’s products, services and messages to the marketplace.

The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing, which is now in its 10th year, is uniquely designed to equip participants with the information, tools and solutions necessary to skillfully and mindfully navigate their way through the fascinating and complex world of marketing. This program engages participants in a rich learning environment that reinforces theory with practical, real-life examples based upon the extensive experience of the instructors.

Our new format has the program run over a period of six days rather than 5 months which serves to reduce travel expenses for those participants from outside the National Capital. It has been designed to be intensive and rigorous, respecting that your time away from your desk needs to bring concrete results once back at the office.

Why You Should Attend:

  • Learn what you really need to know about marketing in the public and non-profit sectors in 1 week;
  • Gain the skills and expertise to assume more senior positions and responsibilities;
  • Share experiences with marketers and communicators in your sector and expand your network.

Who Attends:

The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing is ideal for:

Managers working for government, crown corporations/agencies, non-profit organization and associations who are responsible for:

  • Marketing programs, products and services targeted to the public, business and government.
  • Sponsorship and partnership development.
  • Membership development and revenue generation.
  • Exhibit and event marketing.
  • Social marketing, community outreach and public education programs.
  • Strategic communications, media relations and media advocacy.
  • Online and web marketing, social media engagement and digital marketing.

Course Schedule:







Date in 2015



Fundamentals of Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

½ Day


Jim Mintz

Sunday, Feb.8


Marketing Research and Evaluation

1 Day

Dr. Judith Madill

Monday, Feb. 9

Creative Marketing Techniques, Strategic Alliances & Collaborative Arrangements

1 Day

Bernie Colterman

Tuesday, Feb. 10


Strategic Social Media Engagement

1 Day

Jim Mintz

Wednesday, Feb. 11


Social Marketing

1 Day

Mike Kujawski

Thursday, Feb. 12


Case Study Presentations

½ Day


Case Group Presentations


Feb 13

Register Now for the Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

Success Stories:

What past participants say about the Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

“This program proved not only to be a great networking opportunity, but also provided me with practical knowledge and insight that I could apply in the workplace immediately. Furthermore, it has enabled me to approach business challenges in the public sector in a much more effective and strategic manner. Regardless of experience level or prior education, I believe this unique course to be a great investment for any marketing and communications professional in the non-profit or public sector worlds.” 

Catherine Fortin LeFaivre, Communications Advisor, House of Commons

“The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing gave me the tools and contacts to take our communications and my career to a higher level.” 

Trevor Eggleton A/ Director of Communications National Aboriginal Health Organization

“This is the premier certificate available if you are interested in learning marketing from a public sector perspective. You’ll be taught by consummate marketing professionals, learn techniques that emphasize strategy over tactics, and you’ll master the tools to make informed decisions about your marketing efforts. The course is also an invaluable way to meet and learn from colleagues and develop networking opportunities.” 

Trevor Lynn, Manager, Communications, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

“You will come away from this training extremely well-prepared for todays and tomorrow’s marketing challenges. This detailed curriculum offered up over a very reasonable time-frame exposes you to the knowledge, techniques, tools and processes that effectively guarantee successful outcomes for you and your organization. The reputation of the programme provides a line-up of top-notch professionals in front of the class, and the diverse group of leaders striving for the certificate themselves provide an excellent backdrop to what is much more than a networking opportunity.”

Dean Black, Executive Director Air Force Association of Canada

“As a marketing and communications professional from the private sector now working in the federal government, I have expanded my practical and theoretical knowledge of all aspects of marketing by taking this course. The content is relevant, right up-to-date and immediately applicable to my current work. The presenters are dynamic and provide real-life examples to learn from. I highly recommend this course not only for marketing and communications professionals but also for program managers at all levels.” 

Nina Goodwin, Program Lead, Outreach and Thematic Exhibitions GC Exhibitions Program

“This course will teach you how to change the way your organization communicates forever! Thanks to the course’s solid grounding in marketing strategy and new and evolving tools, I was able to take classroom learning’s and initiate positive change in our department’s products. The course experts were inspiring and accessible. It was an awesome course!

Jennifer Modica, Public Health Ontario

“A fabulous course and worth every penny. I thoroughly enjoyed the content covered through course and the tremendous opportunity to learn from my peers. The instructors were very engaging and each had their own area of expertise and real-world experience to share. After each session I was ready and able to apply what I learned as soon as I got back to the office.  I would highly recommend this certificate course to anyone who must wear a marketing hat in the non-profit or public sector.” 

Nicole Paterson, Manager, Marketing Communications, Burlington Public Library

 “The Seminar leaders made this professional certificate program engaging from the first day. The excellent blend of teaching, case studies and practical hands on work in all the modules covered were always well worth the trip from Toronto.”

Emma Murphy, Marketing & Communications Officer, Oakville Public Library