Collaborating with internal partners for a successful communications strategy

By: Ryan Shanessy

Headshot of Ryan Shanessy
Ryan Shanessy

At the Canada Revenue Agency, quality collaboration with partners on communicating new tax measures is essential because everyone is looking to us for guidance. The agency often relies on the combined efforts of technical experts, creative designers, web developers, and a whole host of other communications professionals to communicate its services to Canadians.

As part of the digital economy measures, a piece of legislation that received Royal Assent in 2021, the CRA was responsible for registering around 500 non-Canadian businesses and making sure these businesses began to pay the GST/HST on digital goods and services sold to Canadians.

Here are the top lessons learned from working collaboratively with our partners on the digital economy measures:

Bring everyone to the table as early as possible

Before the legislation received Royal Assent, communications officials were invited to participate in the program design delivery right from the planning stage. This was instrumental in building communications objectives that aligned with the business objectives. During this time, communication staff also decided on the key performance indicators that would be used to measure the success of communication objectives. 

Make sure your communication objectives are aligned with the business/program objectives

One of the approved communications objectives was to direct businesses to the dedicated Digital Economy phone line or email address if they needed to speak with someone. The CRA created a Digital Economy contact page and linked to the page in communication products and related web pages to support this goal.

Decide on your measurements for success in advance, and be ready to adjust if you’re not seeing success

The team tracked the number of visits to the contact page and the number of calls and emails received by policy employees. During the registration period, around one in every seven visits resulted in a phone call or email. Policy staff responded to over 300 combined emails and phone calls from affected businesses. 

The project was ultimately a success, thanks to early efforts in targeted stakeholder communications. The early and ongoing collaboration between the policy and web teams to get the project off the ground helped to get the web content published in a very short period of time.

Track your results and use them as benchmarks for future projects

Communications advisors stepped in to measure the success of both communication products and web content, giving the CRA a strong foundation to build from in the event that a similar tax measure is introduced in the future.

When CRA employees are on the same page and working together, they’re able to deliver accurate and helpful information to taxpayers.

For more information on evaluating the success of your communications strategy, check out these resources:

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