Research.

McFarland PR & Public Affairs operates by the philosophy that to be understood, you must first “seek to understand.” Listening is the most effective communication skill, not just in our personal relationships, but in business and organizations as well. In fact, organizations that tend to be most effective in their industries are those that embrace and practice a culture of listening to their stakeholders and constituents on a routine basis.

McFarland PR & Public Affairs uses a range of “listening” strategies to help clients understand the perspectives and positions of their stakeholders via:

  • “Listening tours” for political candidates, legislators and executives
  • Benchmarking studies
  • Focus groups
  • Case and feasibility studies
  • Media content analysis
  • Communication audits, etc.

McFarland PR and Public Affairs is highly experienced in developing and implementing listening strategies that can help you develop the best path forward.

Case Study: Turning Customer Notifications Into Relationship Opportunities

Notification is not communication.” That’s a mantra McFarland PR & Public Affairs shares frequently with those working to improve relationships with stakeholders. This advice was well warranted when a public entity expressed concerns about its customer correspondence. McFarland, not new to effective communication audits, set to work quickly recommending a correspondence analysis to review a systematic, random sample of customer correspondence issued over a given time. The content analysis established a scoring system that measured everything from grade-level of the communication, ease of readability, professionalism and courtesy, key content points, and general clarity. The analysis helped to affirm what the company’s communication director suspected – customer-service correspondence was providing perfunctory, template-style response rather informed, but did not communicate with customers – leaving significant opportunities unrealized.  As a follow-up, McFarland recommended developing and delivering a training that provided definitive guidance to employees on how to achieve each of the areas scored in the analysis, provided before-and-after examples of their own correspondence that applied the new guidance, and made recommendations to the company’s management on how to integrate new performance standards into the employee’s annual customer-service performance planning and review process. As a result, employees had a better understanding of management’s expectations in communicating with customers via correspondence, clear guidance on how to meet those expectations, and the opportunity to build better relationships on behalf of the organization one customer at a time.

Case Study: Taxpayer Filing Preferences*

When a Midwest state tax agency needed information to determine the best approach for encouraging electronic filing among Indiana taxpayers, McFarland’s president, Stephanie McFarland, recommended conducting a survey to learn tax-filer preferences, knowledge and concerns about electronic filing. The findings not only led to a successful strategy to increase electronic filing, it also drew interest from the Federation of Tax Administrators in Washington, D.C., and McFarland’s president was invited to present the findings at the FTA’s national electronic-filing conference.span>

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*Case studies represent work Stephanie conducted while employed as the director of public relations with the Indiana Department of Revenue.