Developing your communication strategy
- Consider the underlying rationale, key goals and expected results of your project. What are the potential benefits that could come from your research? How do these relate to the relevant practitioners (eg, your potential target group). As such, what research elements need to be communicated?
- Examine your past communication activities. How have they been received, how effective have they been, and what is the perception of your organization amongst previous target groups?
- Aim for the process of drafting your communication strategy to be as inclusive and collective as possible.
- When drafting your communication strategy, focus on language that is precise, simple and positive. Try to convey your thoughts in as brief a manner as possible while still retaining your meaning.
- At a basic level, your communication strategy should encompass four major elements. These four elements will be refined and included (amongst other elements) in your communication plan. They are:
- The 'What': What do you intend to accomplish with your communication activities? Identify your communication goals, based on the potential benefits and impacts you envision your research can produce. These goals should be positive in nature, and pertain to measurable impacts.
- The 'Who': Identify your target groups, and outline why your research addresses the concerns and problems facing them.
- The 'What': Based on what you have already identified, develop your key communication messages - eg, the message to your target group that will lead to your communication goals being met.
- If you have identified several target groups, determine whether your message is appropriate for them all. If not, identify tailored messages for each of these in a message matrix.
- The 'Why': Articulate your vision of the future, in terms of the successful implementation of your communication activities. What will be the impact of your communication goals being met? How will this improve things for your target groups?
- Based on the 'What', 'Who', 'What' and 'Why', identify a series of guiding principles for your communication activities, so as to ensure better consistency and coherency across all your communication activities, particularly if the individuals involved in the project change over its timeline. These principles should form the basis for all planning, implementation and evaluation of communication activities. Potential principles to consider include:
- Focusing on results-oriented communication
- Tailoring communication activities to target group
- Focusing on evidence- and/or benefit-based communication
- Ensuring that multiple channels and tools are used across
- Ensuring cost-effectiveness
Reviewing your strategy
- Circulate draft versions of your strategy amongst partners for comments and revisions. These partners can be consulted individually, in groups, or in a brainstorming session with a wide range of participants.
- If possible, incorporate your potential target groups into the creation of your strategy, by soliciting their opinions.
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