Every communications partnership is different. However, this checklist highlights the key questions you should ask of any potential communications partnership and signposts you to more detailed guidance.


Key questions


What do you want to achieve?

  • What are your objectives?
  • Who is your target audience? What insights do you have into how they think and behave?
  • What outcome do you want to achieve?
  • How will you evaluate the activity to see if it has been successful?


Is a communications partnership the best way to achieve your objectives?

Have you considered what other options are open to you?


Do your objectives fit with those of your potential partner?

Make sure there is no conflict of interest in what you each aim to achieve.

Further guidance is available on objectives.


Do perceptions of the partner’s business and brand fit with perceptions of the NHS?

Research shows that people have a ‘gut reaction’ of approval or disapproval when they see the NHS in partnership with another organisation. If they perceive a mismatch between the partner’s business and values and those of the NHS, they are likely to either question or reject the partnership.

For further guidance, go to Assessing whether a partnership is appropriate.


How will your audience perceive the relationship between the NHS and your partner?

In any partnership there will be benefits to both sides. However, the public expects the NHS to benefit at least equally from any partnership. The public is also generally uncomfortable with the idea of a partner being paid by the NHS. As well as considering how your target audience will perceive the partnership, you should consider how it might be perceived by the general public and the most critical audiences (such as the media).

For further guidance, go to Audience perceptions of communications partnerships.


Does your partnership give any organisation a commercial advantage?

People expect the NHS to be fair. Be aware of the potential accusation of giving commercial advantage to one organisation over another. If you are actively looking for a partner, make sure you give all the organisations in a given field an opportunity to get involved.


What risks does your communications partnership present and how serious are they?

In any partnership relationship you will need to weigh up the benefits of the partnership against the potential risks; for example, the benefit of reaching a hard-to-reach audience via an association with a potentially controversial partner. Be aware that you may need to justify the partnership to the public, stakeholders and the media. Identifying risks up front can help you plan to deal with them.

For further guidance, go to Evaluating the risks.


Have you followed all the necessary processes?

 When considering a partnership you will need to ensure that you follow your organisation’s own internal processes, including the need to get the partnership signed off. Once you have decided to go ahead with a partnership, you should get a written agreement addressing key issues, including costs, timings and responsibilities.


How will you use the NHS logo to get the most out of the partnership?

 The way the NHS is represented in communications has a significant impact on perceptions of both the NHS and the communications partnership. The NHS logo should always be used in accordance with our main brand guidelines.

For further guidance, go to Using the NHS logo.

Last updated: 02/06/10

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