#ExcellenceInAction: Communicating leadership change for the Kansas City Area Development Council


Nov 07, 2017 • Laura Boyd • Blog


For more than forty years, the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) has served as the economic development driver for the KC region. And for over a dozen of those years, Morningstar Communications has held the honor of calling them our client.

In 2015, KCADC looked to our team for help in developing and implementing a story around its impending change in executive leadership. Bob Marcusse, who served as the organization’s long-time CEO and president, was preparing to hand over the reins when he retired.

KCADC, like Morningstar Communications, understands that while change can be challenging, it’s necessary for continued growth and success. We believe Robert C. Gallagher put it best when he said, “Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.”

Together, our teams worked to develop a key messaging platform and detailed communication plan. This allowed KCADC to spread the news of the change in leadership, as well as announce the successor, once the decision was finalized.

In late 2015, the announcement was made and our teams implemented the communication plan without a hitch. Today, KCADC continues to serve as a leader in economic development and is regularly recognized for its many successes. In fact, it was recently named the top regional economic development organization in the U.S. by Development Counsellors International.

Reflecting on this initiative, a few best practices spring to mind around successfully developing and implementing change communications.

  1. Bring ALL audiences into the equation. Begin by listing every single one of your organization’s audiences and then outline how, when and what communication they need to hear about the change. In change communications, we often recommend a cascading outreach approach to ensure top tier audiences are informed first and foremost, but that no audience is left out of the loop. When defining your top tier audience, ask yourself, “Who do we not want to receive a call from after the announcement asking why they were not told beforehand?”
  2. Prepare for every outcome. Change is difficult and has a tendency to distress those both directly and indirectly impacted. We highly recommend preparing for the best case scenario, worst case scenario and everything in-between when developing a change communications plan. To do this, think through the questions your various audiences may ask when informed of the change. What will their concerns be? What will their hopes be? Where will they turn for more information? Create a running list of questions and answers, and provide it to every member of your organization who will be assisting with communicating the change.
  3. Make a lasting impression. Once the change is announced, it’s important to keep positive momentum going. Depending on the situation, consider implementing a speaking tour in which the new leader spends a year speaking to various groups and organizations to position him/herself as a thought leader. And speaking of thought leadership, go one step further by incorporating blog posts, LinkedIn articles, bylined articles, etc. into your change communication plan. This helps ensure the new leader continues to be seen as a knowledgeable source of information in their industry.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our #ExcellenceInAction blog series. Check out our case studies for more examples of how we help clients achieve their goals.


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