Communications Policy and Protocol

Purpose and Intent of the Communications Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that communications at Temple Israel reflect the values of our sacred community and help to promote its mission and vision as outlined in our Mission and Vision statements. To these ends, the policy is intended  to ensure communications are timely, effective,  consistent, well-co-ordinated, and responsive to the diverse information needs of congregants and audiences outside the congregation, The policy seeks to foster internal and external communications that are also accurate, ethical, polite and respectful, reflecting our open and caring community.

A centralized approach is taken to communications, with ultimate authority resting with the President.  However, this policy recognizes that all congregants and staff have key roles to play in meeting the objectives of this policy.  Communications are a part of everything we do as an inclusive and, egalitarian congregation. Therefore, internal and external communications are a shared responsibility  that must be routinely considered and appropriately addressed in developing policies, programs and activities.

 

Internal Communications

Policy

Internal communications primarily involve communications from governing bodies and staff to the congregation and vice-versa, but also include communications between the Executive, Board, committees, the Rabbi and other staff and contractors.  The objectives of internal communications include but are not limited to:

  • Fostering openness and transparency in the governance of our Temple and ensuring accountability of the Board, Executive, Committees, the Rabbi and other staff to the congregation.  This requires informing congregants of what issues and possible decisions are being considered and ensuring they have opportunities to make their views known on these issues.
  • Keeping the congregation informed of activities, programs and services.
  • Encouraging and facilitating participation of congregants in the various aspects of Temple life.
  • Recognizing the contributions of members to Temple and celebrating our successes.
  • Ensuring communications between the Executive, the Board, Committees, the Rabbi and other staff are conducive to good governance and the effective functioning of Temple.

While debate and the expression of differing views are encouraged in this open and inclusive community, all communications with staff, contractors and other congregants, including those who sit on its governing bodies, should be respectful and consistent with our values as a caring community.  No congregant should expose another congregant to insult or ridicule in oral or written communications or in electronic and social media.

The Communications Policy addresses the following areas of internal communications:

Transparency:

Communications from Committees, the Board of Directors, the Executive and staff about their activities, policies and decisions are timely, accurate, clear, objective and complete.  The congregation is regularly informed of the activities of the Board and Committees and when they meet.

Dissemination/Distribution:

In order to ensure information concerning Temple activities, programs and policies is readily accessible, this information is disseminated in ways that recognize the diversity of the congregation and the differing needs of its members.  Therefore a variety of media are used to help to reach target audiences within the congregation.  Temple Israel uses announcements at services and events, printed materials, e-mail, the Temple Website and Bulletin and other media to communicate with congregants and continually adapts to the changing communications environment, employing new media as it becomes appropriate and feasible to do so.  These communications have a common look that identifies them with Temple Israel.

Code of Conduct:

Communications are part of almost all activities at Temple Israel and need to reflect the values of our caring community.  Therefore, staff, contractors, members of the Board and Committees and congregants have communications responsibilities and are expected to conduct themselves in keeping with the Code of Conduct in meeting these responsibilities.

All individuals covered by this policy are responsible for ensuring that their communications to staff, members of governing bodies, individual congregants and groups of congregants and individuals and groups outside the congregation are respectful, timely, accurate, as comprehensive as possible and responsive.  Questions and requests from inside or outside the congregation must be addressed promptly.  If it is not possible to respond immediately, receipt of the question or request should be promptly acknowledged and an estimate of the time that will required for a complete response should be provided.  If this estimated time frame is exceeded, a new time estimate should be provided.

Privacy and Confidentiality:

While communications should be as open and transparent as possible, privacy and confidentiality requirements must be met in accordance with legislation (e.g. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act [PIPEDA]) and Temple Israel’s privacy policy and practices.  No photo of a congregant or child can be used in communications to the congregation without their prior consent.  Neither should the name of a congregant or child, or other personal information (e.g. home telephone number or address) be included in communications to the congregation as a whole without such consent.  Communications must also respect privacy regarding contracts, salaries and personnel matters.

Protocol

President’s Role:

The President has final operational responsibility for all communications.  This includes ensuring that communications reflect the policies on disclosure and distribution and meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct and privacy and confidentiality.  The President exercises these responsibilities with input and advice from the Executive, Board, Committees and staff.

The President is directly responsible for communications to the congregation on matters relating to the activities and decisions of the Executive and the Board of Directors. This includes, but is not limited to, matters related to policies approved by the Board, budget and finance issues, staffing and contracting, membership and planning and decisions related to the Temple building and facilities.  The President is also responsible for ensuring a Communications Strategy is developed for all major initiatives of the Board

The President’s other responsibilities include ensuring the Board is accessible to congregants, so that they can follow its activities and express their views and concerns to the Board.  The President ensures that the meeting dates of Board are published in advance so that interested congregants can attend. The President also ensures that Agenda, Minutes and other appropriate materials from Board meetings that are not of a confidential nature are made available to the congregation in a timely manner.  In addition, the President has a responsibility to encourage effective two-way communication between the congregation and the Board and to ensure that measures are in place to allow this.

Executive’s Role:

The Executive provides support and guidance to the President on communications issues, including communications to staff, contractors, the congregation at large and to individuals and groups within the congregation. Whenever feasible, it is suggested as a best practice that the President ask a minimum of two designated members of the Executive to review his or her communications to the congregation on sensitive or contentious issues. The two designated members will also vet communications from the President to staff, contracted personnel and individual members of the congregation, when these communications are sensitive in nature or have significant implications for the Temple.

The President may in emergencies delegate his/her communications responsibilities to members of the Executive.  On such occasions, these responsibilities will normally fall to a vice-president. If this is not feasible or appropriate, another appropriate member of the Executive will be designated.

Board of Director’s Role:

The Board is accountable to the congregation and acts as its collective voice.  The Board is responsible for ensuring it is accessible to congregants, so that they can follow its activities and express their views to the Board.  The Directors have a responsibility to encourage effective two-way communication between the congregation and the Board.  It is also the role of the Directors to explain non-confidential activities and decisions of the Board to congregants, to listen to the views of congregants and to ensure the Board is aware of the concerns of congregants in making its decisions. The Directors also provide support and guidance to the Executive and the President on communications.  Such support may include assistance with the drafting of communications products and the development of communications strategies.

Role of Committees:

The chairs of committees have a responsibility to inform the congregation of their activities and decisions.  The Agenda and Minutes of meetings and other relevant materials that do not raise privacy or confidentiality concerns must be made available to the congregation in a timely manner.  The chairs of committees also have a responsibility to ensure that activities, decisions and accomplishments of their committees are communicated to the congregation and to the Board on a regular basis and that a formal report on the committee’s activities is provided to the Board and the congregation at each annual general meeting.  These communications to the congregation must be reviewed by the Executive before being sent to congregants, if the communications involve new policies, matters that have financial implications, or overlap or affect the work of other committees.

The chair may delegate communications duties to another member of the committee.  All committee members have a responsibility to listen to the concerns of congregants and to ensure the committee is aware of these concerns in making its decisions.  The chair is responsible for responding to questions about committee activities from congregants.

Role of Communications Committee:

In addition to having the communications responsibilities of all committees, the Communications Committee is responsible for providing advice to the President, the Board and Executive and other committees on communications to the congregation.  It may also provide such advice to staff upon request.  The duties of the committee include:

  • Overseeing the main vehicles used to communicate with congregants, including the Temple Israel Website and the Bulletin;
  • Developing an understanding of the different audiences within the congregation and their needs and concerns.
  • Developing plans and proposals on how to improve internal communications and exploring possible uses of new media.
  • Developing procedures and processes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communications.
  • Reviewing and providing advice on communications strategies on major initiatives;
  • Reviewing major announcements to the congregation from the President, Board and Executive.

Rabbi’s Role:

The Rabbi is responsible for communicating to the congregation on matters regarding programming, prayer, liturgical music and changes to policy and practice within the ambit of pulpit authority (e.g. marriage, kashruth, prayer books).  The Rabbi is also responsible for communicating to the congregation on the overall direction and framework of the education program.  The Rabbi and the Director of Lifelong Learning collaborate on communicating to the congregation on the religious school curriculum and other educational programs.  Final approval of communications activities of the Rabbi rests with the President.

Executive Director’s Role:

The Executive Director facilitates communications to the congregation, overseeing the publication, posting and transmission of information.  The Executive Director is also responsible for helping to ensure congregants receive required information related to the day to day operations of Temple.

Director of Lifelong Learning’s Role:

The Director of Lifelong Learning, in consultation with the Rabbi, is responsible for ensuring that the congregation is informed of major activities, initiatives and developments in the life-long learning program at Temple Israel and for promoting activities and programs to encourage maximum participation by congregants.  With regard to the school, the Director of Lifelong Learning is responsible for ensuring that parents and students receive the information they need on curriculum and school programming, as well as on the day to day operations of the school.

Temple Members:

In their communications with staff, contractors and other congregants, including members of the Executive, Board and Committees, congregants are expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct.

In their communications with staff, contractors and members of the Executive, Board and Committees, congregants are expected to reflect the values of the Temple community, as expressed in the Mission and Vision statements.  While debate and the expression of differing views are encouraged, all communications with staff, contractors and other congregants should be respectful and consistent with our values as a caring community.  No congregant should expose another congregant to personal insult or ridicule in oral or written communications or in electronic and social media.

 

External Communications

Policy

Temple Israel is committed to extending its communications outside the congregation to the broader community of Jews and non-Jews in the Ottawa area and beyond.  The objectives of external communications include but are not limited to:

  • asserting the values of liberal Judaism;
  • reaching out to non-practising and unaffiliated Jews and all those who are drawn to Judaism or interested in its teachings and practices;
  • attracting new members in order to maintain and build our congregation;
  • contributing to the continuity and flourishing of a vibrant Jewish presence in the Ottawa area and beyond;
  • advancing social justice;
  • asserting our relationship with the state of Israel and its people.

The congregation is kept informed of external communications initiatives and results. External communications must meet the confidentiality and privacy standards that are required in internal communications (page 3).

Protocol for Proactive External Communications

Temple Israel uses a variety of communications vehicles in order to reach diverse audiences outside the congregation.  These vehicles include: public events (organized by Temple Israel or other organizations, at which Temple is represented by appropriate spokespersons), Jewish media (e.g. Ottawa Jewish Bulletin), major broadcast and print media (e.g. CBC, Ottawa Citizen), the Temple Israel Website, other new media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).

When it has a major announcement to make, Temple Israel develops a communications strategy and appropriate communications products (e.g. News Release, Backgrounder, Speaking Points for spokespersons) and takes additional steps to promote desired coverage (e.g. contacting media organizations, holding press conference, anticipating photo/video footage needs of media, issuing a News Release).

Temple Israel also judiciously uses advertising to effectively reach target audiences outside the congregation.  It defines the objectives of such advertising and ensures that the content of advertising, the media used and the costs of the advertising are appropriate to these objectives and the target audience.  It also evaluates the effectiveness of all advertising, deciding in advance how and when effectiveness will be evaluated.

Official Representation

President’s Role:

The President has final approval over all external communications activities. The President acts as the voice of the Congregation in external communications.  The President can delegate this role, however, to another member of the Executive or Board on specific issues.  The President works with the Rabbi to ensure that external communications are well planned, co-ordinated and consistent.

Rabbi’s Role:

The Rabbi is the principal spokesperson on matters directly relating to the Jewish religion, Reform perspectives and the religious practices and programs at Temple Israel.  As there is a religious dimension to all of the objectives of external communications listed above, the Rabbi may also play a role in communications related to these objectives.  The Rabbi works with the President to ensure external communications are well planned, co-ordinated and consistent.

Director of LifeLong Learning’s Role:

The Rabbi may delegate external communications and marketing concerning the religious school and lifelong learning programs to the Principal.  The Rabbi is responsible for overseeing and supervising such communications by the Director of Lifelong Learning.

Communications Committee’s Role:

The Communications Committee provides advice and support on all external communications.  This includes:

  • Proposing priorities for external communications to the Board;
  • Assisting with the development of communications products (e.g. communications strategy, news release, speaking points, advertising, brochures, promotional videos);
  • Developing expertise on media organizations that can help Temple Israel communicate beyond the congregation and providing related advice.
  • Developing expertise on new media and how they can best be used to carry external messages, and providing related advice.
  • Reviewing external communications products/advertising and providing advice;
  • Providing advice on evaluation of communications/advertising initiatives.
Approval of Proactive Communications

All planned external communications/advertising initiatives must be reviewed by the Rabbi, the President and two designated members of the Executive.  Final approval is the responsibility of the President.  Prior to the launch of such initiatives, advice should be sought from the chair of the Communications Committee and the chair of any other committee that has direct responsibilities related to the subject matter of the communication.  Such advice should initially be sought at least one week prior to the planned release of the communication.  The chair of a committee may delegate the provision of advice to another member of the committee.

However, the approval process is less rigorous for individual articles concerning Temple Israel that are submitted for publication to external media.  In order to encourage the production of such articles and allow deadlines to be met, it is sufficient to allow the Rabbi and President to see such articles before publication.

Protocol for Responsive Communications

The President has final authority over all responsive communications to questions or statements of media or other organizations  The Executive Director may provide basic information about Temple Israel and its day to day operations to media representatives and other external organizations and individuals.

The only officials with the authority to respond directly to other questions from media and external organizations are the President and the Rabbi (with approval of the President).  The Rabbi may respond to questions concerning the Jewish religion, Reform perspectives and the religious practices and programs at Temple Israel.  If asked, the Rabbi may give personal perspectives on issues to the media, but only after receiving assurances that the organization will state that these are the Rabbi’s personal views and not necessarily those of Temple Israel.

The President may respond directly to media calls about Temple policies and decisions made by the Board.  The President does not have the authority to express personal views to the media on religious or political issues, unless he or she receives approval to do so from the Executive on a case by case basis.  The President does, however, have the authority discuss with external media any specific actions that have been taken by the Board on an issue.  Whenever appropriate and feasible, the President should seek input on responsive communications from the Executive and/or the Board, Committees and staff

Other Temple officials or staff who receive media calls do not respond before consulting with the Executive Director or the President.  The President may delegate the Rabbi, a member of the Executive or Board, the chair of a Committee, the Executive Director (with the Rabbi’s approval) the Director of Lifelong Learning to respond.

If members of the congregation are questioned by the media, they are free to respond as they deem appropriate, but if they hold any position at Temple they should make it clear that they are giving a personal response that may not reflect the views of the Temple or other congregants. The only congregant who does not have this freedom is the President, as outlined above.

In order to respect privacy, no congregant or child of a congregant should be identified by name in external communications without their consent.  Neither can the image of a member, or child of a member, be provided without consent.

Media Contact

The main media contact will be the Executive Director, who will determine who is the most appropriate spokesperson on the issue in question according to the Communications Policy.  In the absence of the Executive Director, the Rabbi or the President may act as the media contact.