10 Golden Rules for Disseminating Research
A sound communication strategy is vital to any research, and the remittances research commissioned by (FSD Africa) and conducted by Developing Markets Associates (DMA) provides a great example of such a strategy. With over 25 media features, (including BBC Focus on Africa), press coverage across the continent and invitations to speak at major industry conferences such as the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2017, GSMA M360 Conference and the International Money Transfer & Payments Conference (IMTC), this research proved particularly successful in terms of getting the message out.
When developing the strategy, the following rules were important
- Review past dissemination efforts
In preparing for the remittance research campaign, we reviewed the strategy implemented for the Credit on the Cusp 2016 research and worked out how it could have been better. Analytics highlighted missed opportunities, such as the use of email campaigns and other tools to keep stakeholders engaged. This reflection influenced the selection of tools and channels for the remittances research campaign.
- Devise dissemination objectives
In sessions led by Well Made Strategy, FSD Africa, DMA and representatives from the Department for International Development (DFID) brainstormed what they hoped to achieve by disseminating the remittances research findings. Key questions asked included:
- What is the overall purpose of the campaign? Is it to increase awareness and understanding, to stimulate action, to influence market practice or policy – or a combination of these?
- What are the headline messages of our research that we wish to convey?
- Determine audiences
In thinking about audiences for the research the following format was used: Who? What? When? Why? Where? How? Borrowing from stakeholders’ mapping principles, FSD Africa determined who the target audiences were (enablers, ambassadors, observers and friends), why it was important to send them the research, when was the best time to reach them, where to reach them, what their information needs were and how they would absorb the research findings.
- Develop key messages
Direct, simple and engaging messages are at the heart of any successful dissemination strategy. Through a targeted email campaign using Mailchimp, we were able to send out short monthly messages to keep targeted audiences engaged with the research. These messages provided links to the report and other related communication outputs.
- Decide on dissemination approaches
The ‘Pyramid of engagement’ multimedia approach to dissemination was used, which aimed to get our target audience engaged. This entailed developing a planning grid with activities and products to be disseminated, including:
- A 6-page summary brochure of key messages
- Twitter campaign (with hashtag #UKtoAfricaRemittances)
- Infographic series
- Nine country media relations plans
- News coverage
- Blog post series
- Presentations at major industry conferences to launch the report
- Full report
- Podcast interview between Well Made Strategy and FSD Africa
- After-action review
- Determine dissemination channels
Above any other consideration, the choice of channels determines who receives – and therefore who might act upon –messages. The following channels were used for the remittances research: GSMA blog, London School of Economics Blog, CGAP, Next Billion and Cenfri.
- Review and make available the necessary resources
It is important to consider the resources available for dissemination activities. We commissioned a graphic designer to get the report publish ready and develop the infographics which were used on social media by the FSD Network. Well Made Strategy was also contracted to provide strategic communications support.
- Consider timing and windows of opportunity
A good dissemination strategy or any communications campaign should start before the research is even completed. Setting a sufficient timeline for developing and disseminating communication products may be obvious, but it’s a point worth reiterating. A six-month planning grid was developed for the remittance research campaign with a calendar of upcoming global and regional events at which the research was to be disseminated. The grid also mapped communication activities such as blog and email series to accompany the events.
- Maximise on the ‘network effect’
Network structures form an exceptional opportunity to amplify and spread information widely. We got media coverage across Africa which was largely stimulated by the FSDs. Innovative use of data visualisation in consultation with the FSD Network (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) led to influential social media engagement.
- Evaluate efforts
An after-action review of the remittances research dissemination will be conducted to discuss what went well, what did not go so well and what can be learned for future research dissemination. We expect this to provide a better understanding of the barriers to dissemination and ensure use of the most effective dissemination strategies in future research projects.
Martin Namasaka is a Communications Consultant at FSD Africa