Using Strategic Communication to Transform Veterans’ Relationship with VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is undergoing modernization and transformation to improve care and service delivery for Veterans. Through the myVA campaign, launched in 2016, VA embarked on a journey to change the way Veterans interact with the Department by putting them in charge of how, when, and where they are served.

We partnered with VA to help tackle this undertaking through a robust communications and organization change management effort focused on the internal adoption and implementation of myVA. To ensure the VA workforce and stakeholders were aware of their vital role in the campaign, we developed an integrated communications and engagement plan. This plan contained robust strategic communications tactics, including developing audience segmentation reports, conducting online behavior analyses and communication channel assessments, and testing messages with specific audiences.

As part of the plan, we attended key VA leadership meetings to understand the latest campaign messaging and prepared leadership for important engagements by working with them on strategy. We also created communication materials to ensure optimal message impact with the intended audience. For instance, our expert team hosted virtual training workshops and provided PowerPoint briefings, posters, newsletters, brochures, talking points, fact sheets, infographics, motion graphics, videos and online content to aide in the dissemination of campaign messaging. These materials focused on how VA engaged and impacted Veterans and employees and were delivered through an omni-channel approach, including in-person at town halls and online via VA social media platforms and intranet sites. The monthly campaign cadence integrated communications and information products that contained ten pieces of content, seven communications products, and three videos.

In addition, we established and managed central channels to communicate VA messages. This involved researching, cataloging and analyzing a list of VA communication channels and conducting message testing to assess audience understanding and use of the information. It also included media engagement and social media support and creating a landing page on the VA intranet that housed key information on myVA.

We also established clear communication metrics to monitor reach, effectiveness, and impact; efficacy of existing and new tools; and refine communication strategies. This review was used to develop a road map on ways to further evolve and expand the reach and influence of internal communications within VA.

Our communications efforts continue to bring employee awareness and support, as MyVA evolved into the broader Choose VA campaign. We built a replicable internal and external communications process that VA could maintain so it could continue to articulate its status and achievements to Veterans, employees, and the public in a way that promoted engagement and action.