Communications Learning Weeks

Article, 07 July 2015

IIED's Communications Learning Weeks are an opportunity for IIED and its partners to come together to explore tools and strategies for delivering effective communications.

Workshop sessions allow participants to explore technologies such as video (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

IIED organises an annual workshop that brings together its own communications team with communications specialists from its partner organisations around the world.  

Partnerships are a key characteristic of IIED's way of working, and the learrning week is an opportunity to explore common themes, build relationships and learn from one another about the challenges we face in communicating about sutainable development.

The programme typically includes sessions on topics such as media relations, audience mapping and digital communications. Our partners present case studies of media campaigns that have worked well and discuss the main elements that contributed to their success.

The workshop also provides a great opportunity to analyse target audiences and how best to reach them – whether they are local farmers or international policy analysts.

Solving problems and sharing resources

The workshop gives delegates the chance to ask colleagues for advice on tricky issues and planning. We run tailored sessions that focus on the specific needs of individual partner organisations, and we also arrange for participants to meet with researchers to learn about their views on publishing their research.

A key feature of the week is a discussion of the latest ways of engaging with the widest possible audience. While IIED's team reports on new software and technologies, delegates from developing countries can deliver useful perspectives on the realities of working in countries with limited broadband and social media activity. For example, one of our partners in Uganda uses text messaging and radio to reach local farmers.

Whether it is radio or Twitter, identifying easy and low-cost tools is particularly important for organisations with limited resources. By sharing what we have learned, we can all improve our impact. 

Reporting on Communications Learning Week

We encourage participants to report on what they have learned. A popular workshop session focuses on blog writing and we publish the blogs written by delegates, while IIED communications director Liz Carlile highlighted four key points to remember when trying to communicate to influence policy after the 2015 event.

Social media platforms like Storify enable people to tell the story of events as they happen. You can read detailed Storify round-ups of recent learning weeks:

The first Communications Learning Week took place in 2011. Read the feedback of participants, including a series of video interviews

Inspiring and informative

At IIED we find Communications Learning Week an inspiring and informative experience. We hope our international partners benefit from it too. The video playlist below features interviews with participants who attended our 2014 event.

The friendships we make during IIED Communications Learning Week are an important part of the week. They are the basis for our growing learning and support network of communications professionals working in sustainable development.