Sharing best practices on communicating research

IIED's Communications Learning Week provided ICCCAD's Masroora Haque with an opportunity to learn new skills and share expertise.

Masroora Haque's picture
Insight by 
Masroora Haque
27 May 2015
A snapshot of ICCCAD's Twitter page. Research organisations increasingly use social media platforms to communicate with their stakeholders (Image: ICCCAD)

A snapshot of ICCCAD's Twitter page. Research organisations increasingly use social media platforms to communicate with their stakeholders (Image: ICCCAD)

Even the most groundbreaking research will get lost in the noise if it doesn't reach the right people in the right way. 

The impact of any piece of research is vastly heightened by the communications team. This is why research centres and think tanks need to have a dedicated communications team with the proper resources to reach out to the public. This is an essential organisational function.

From 11-14 May, the communications team at the International Institute for Environment and Development organised a communications learning week, inviting partners from Bangladesh, Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Uganda to its London office.

My fellow international participants brought a wealth of expertise to the table and I was amazed by the innovative ways they are using to communicate to their stakeholders. From smallholder farmers to city governments, and from national policymakers to the general public, my biggest learning came from hearing my fellow participants share the ways in which communications is delivered to these diverse stakeholders.

The week started with an audience mapping and a framework for a communications strategy to reach those audience groups systematically and with impact. Writing a research paper or journal article is one thing, but writing for time-pressed policymakers, donors or the general public is another.

Communicating long research outputs to decision-makers in a clear, succinct, attention-grabbing way is a skill communicators practise every day by following certain guidelines. We shared these best practices on writing more effectively.

Digital communications is an almost mandatory component of any modern communications plan and the learning week had a strong emphasis on video production, websites and social media.

Using short videos helps distill key messages and deliver them to stakeholders in a very digestible format. We learnt to shoot and speak in a one-minute video which I found particularly helpful. Preparing talking points is one thing, but getting in front of the camera is a daunting task, made easier only with practice. Video editing can be easily done on YouTube – with no need for a paid-for editing programme – which was a handy tip.

The world of social media is a very crowded space, but essential for communicating to the general public, donors and partners. We learnt about social media tools that can update multiple social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in one go, saving time and hitting multiple time zones, or schedule updates for more effective times. Some of these handy sites or applications are Buffer, Hootsuite,, Followerwonk, among many others.

A group of communicators coming together to learn, share ideas and get feedback on what we're doing is invaluable to any communications practitioner at any stage in their career. It is an excellent means to hone our trade, take this learning and improve the results of our communications efforts. 

I took away a lot from this week and I know that the dissemination of our research products will be strengthened because of it.

Masroora Haque ([email protected]) is the coordinator for communications for the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh