Developing a Communication Strategy

The communication process must be an ongoing and continuous component of the overall IR project process from pre-implementation, throughout implementation and in the final evaluation stage. Involving stakeholders in the development process early will enhance ownership of the process and the ultimate uptake of the research findings and conclusions. Specific steps are recommended for research teams as they discuss and identify their communication strategy and related stakeholder needs. This is intended as generic guidance that can be adapted and customized for specific projects. The end result should be a context- sensitive strategy designed to intentionally engage and communicate with specific stakeholders and disseminate information products to pre-determined target audiences.

There are no short-cuts to facilitating and promoting advocacy and communications around an IR project. The research team could be tempted, for example, to focus on the creation of specific information products and simply disseminate those. However, single one-way products do not constitute a communication strategy.

Strong communication strategies help promote and facilitate:

  • productive dialogue within the IR team and with key stakeholders and partners;
  • active two-way exchange of experience and learning (not just from researchers/key stakeholders to given audiences, but also actively inviting feedback and engagement by specific audiences, including IR participants and end users);
  • precisely tailored and targeted messages and information products that are appropriate to particular audiences; and
  • mechanisms to evaluate relevant indicators and outcomes, so that the strategy and its products can be revised and improved.

TDR Implementation research toolkit

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References