Strategic Communications

Stakeholders can be advocates or adversaries, and success in a given endeavor can ride on understanding how best to address their needs and concerns. SDI uses our trademark COMSEM process (Communications Sensitivity Matrix) to change behavior or values, build support, increase demand or prepare stakeholders for change. Through COMSEM, we identify issues and audiences; research audiences’ knowledge, attitudes and level of concern over key issues; create targeted messaging that reflects social and political realities; develop and implement strategic programming and outreach and provide for ongoing evaluation.


  • Audience and Issues Identification and Analysis
  • Trend Analysis
  • Strategy and Tactics
  • Message Development
  • Research and Polling
  • Program Development
  • Media Relations
  • Crisis Communications


How We Introduced National Harbor

SDI was retained by the Peterson Companies to support the phased launch of National Harbor, an exciting new development along the Potomac River.

There were two major challenges to the task: change the image of Prince George’s County to make the site seem more hospitable; and overcome significant public safety concerns arising out of the county’s reputation. Using SDI’s trademarked COMSEM process (Communications Sensitivity Matrix) we developed and executed a strategic communications plan called “The Awakening of National Harbor” that identified critical concerns of key stakeholders, introduced and defined National Harbor, addressed community concerns, supported leasing and sales, and generated foot traffic.

SDI determined that one of the keys to making National Harbor’s location in Prince George’s County more acceptable lay in helping bring the County’s rich history to light, calling attention to historic elements of the site. To address safety issues SDI helped create a series of high profile events that invited people from the Washington metropolitan area to visit National Harbor, and ensured media coverage of activities at National Harbor emphasized the family fun aspect of visiting. Our team also advocated developing relationships with county organizations that afford an opportunity to cast new light on Prince George’s County, and in doing so, accrue to the advantage of National Harbor.

Fast Facts

  • We created a listening post to field, catalogue and respond to concerns from critical audiences, such as members of the political and social structure of Prince George’s County, county residents, and the media.
  • We established ongoing dialogue with two additional audiences, faith-based organizations and community organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • We tailored a specific outreach campaign to the military community stationed and working at nearby Andrews Air Force Base.
  • The work performed by SDI helped alleviate National Harbor’s local political problems, successfully generated significant foot traffic through a series of events, and earned an enormous increase in media coverage. Today, National Harbor is an exciting popular destination in addition to an economic driver for Prince Georges County.