A KE strategy needs regular updating and should address the following areas:
- aims and expected outcomes;
- stakeholder analysis;
- an Implementation Plan.
The Implementation Plan should describe in detail how each objective and expected outcome will be achieved and how different research users and stakeholders will be engaged throughout the programme, considering the needs/preferences of different stakeholder groups. This may include a range of KE channels (e.g. mass media, specialist press and newsletters, internet, mail, conferences and workshops, face-to-face meetings with key decision-makers), and use a range of different approaches and media (e.g. social media, websites, documentary films, podcasts, policy briefs).
It may be worth assigning specific delivery mechanisms to each expected outcome, identifying measures of success and identifying the risks associated with achieving each outcome and how these risks may be mitigated; for an example of this sort of matrix, see the attached Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) Knowledge Exchange and Communications Strategy.
Outcomes and indicators can help keep KE on track, but shouldn’t prevent the programme from adapting its goals to meet changing stakeholder needs, or exploiting new opportunities as they arise.
- Establish responsibilities for KE: consider who will be tasked with achieving each outcome described in the Implementation Plan, and when you expect each outcome to be achieved. Dedicated programme KE Co-ordinators have proved to be a valuable resource and knowledge brokers (sometimes referred to as 'interpreters' or 'knowledge intermediaries') can play an important role in facilitating effective two-way exchanges.
- Allocate appropriate funding: this is important both at programme and at project level and should be incorporated into all phases of research, enabling the co-design, co-production and co-delivery of research outputs.
- Identify the contribution that the programme will make to meeting LWEC’s Challenges and the KE links that can be established with other LWEC activities.
- Identify the desired KE culture and skills needed for the programme and describe how they will be achieved. Experience from the Rural Economy and Land Use (Relu) Programme suggests that it may be useful to explicitly embed the programme’s KE philosophy in the research process, through the development of mechanisms that promote and embed this philosophy within research projects. The programme’s approach to KE needs to be clearly articulated and embedded in the design of programme events and drawn upon as a creative process within discussions and meetings.
- Establish knowledge management arrangements to support effective access to, and sharing of, knowledge and expertise.
- Establish evaluation procedures to be used during and after completion of the project or programme as part of a learning cycle to enable research management processes to be continually improved.
- Programme identity: some programmes have found it useful to think explicitly about branding, to help foster relationships and communicate research outcomes more effectively with stakeholders. If staff responsible for KE within the programme aren't able to develop the programme brand, it's possible to hire branding consultants to help with this. Branding goes beyond visual design such as logos (although this is important), to identify the core characteristics that the programme wants to become known for (e.g. the type of research covered by the programme and the manner in which research is done in the programme). Effective branding can open doors for projects to establish relationships with stakeholders and to get research findings into policy and practice. This is because programme-branded projects are more easily recognised and more likely to be trusted by proxy, due to their association with the programme.
Examples of existing strategies are attached below.