Strategic Consulting/Integrated Communications Results in Smooth Leadership Transition at Northfield Retirement Community
Northfield Retirement Community (NRC), a not-for-profit organization providing care and housing for seniors, needed a media relations strategy to announce the transition of leadership from long-time president and chief executive officer, Kyle R. Nordine, to Thomas Nielsen, vice president of long-term care operations and administrator.
As a respected organization in Northfield, Minnesota, with upwards of a dozen distinct audiences, NRC needed to inform staff, community members and local press of the changes in leadership. Neuger developed a communications campaign that included letters and emails to several key target populations (including board, management, staff and key donors), a video explaining the transition and a media relations initiative to get the word out more broadly to celebrate the leadership change and succession plan of the organization.
The Communications Challenge
The three greatest challenges for this effort included:
- The staging of the communications to each of the key target audiences, ensuring the messages were communicated in a highly prioritized fashion;
- A lack of clarity of who the president and CEO successor would be (internal versus external candidates); and
- Establishing a tone of strategic and successful transition planning to ensure that target audiences were comfortable with the transition.
The key to a smooth transition is clear communications. To meet the communications challenges, Neuger worked with an ad hoc succession planning team comprised of a subset of the board of directors. This group identified and prioritized key target audiences and Neuger set a timeline to ensure cohesive communications every step of the way.
Neuger identified several milestones and critical decision points that needed to be reached for an effective transition. Messaging was also established and shared with key ambassadors of the organization, including the management team, board members and key staff. For media outreach, Neuger leveraged NRC’s existing relationship with KYMN-AM Radio for an interview with Nordine and Nielsen about their tenure and next steps for the organization.
The transition was completed on time and without any glitches. The outgoing CEO’s tenure and retirement was appropriately honored and the incoming CEO stepped in seamlessly to his new role. KYMN-AM is a community-based, commercial station with a global reach, that streams online and broadcasts to the Northfield, Minnesota, area at 1080 AM and 95.1 FM. The target audience of the station is listeners ages 18 to 64 and offers a wide variety of local programs to inform, entertain and serve the Northfield community. In addition to the personal communications that went out to the dozen or so audiences, the news was broadly shared through the KYMN-AM Radio network.