As your programme proceeds, it is important to look for and take advantage of opportunities to assist and strengthen stakeholder engagement and involvement, and to enhance the whole KE process:
- Collaborative mindset Promoting productive collaboration and effective listening between researchers and users/stakeholders can establish a common purpose, facilitate two-way learning and ensure the continued involvement of users/stakeholders in the research process. Working closely with stakeholders may also enable you to promote KE by building on successful networks/processes they already have in place. In addition, establishing connections with other programmes and activities can enable significant findings and important information to be shared more widely.
- Methods of communication Encourage suggestions from research users and other stakeholders regarding the best ways of communicating with them, as this will help you pinpoint the most effective formats and channels for exchanging information with specific groups. Furthermore, communication materials developed with the involvement of stakeholders are more likely to achieve the right tone and pitch and therefore meet the needs of the target audience. Similarly, the ‘reach’ of communication materials can increase significantly if stakeholders help to disseminate them.
- Targeting and language Ensure that all communication materials are well-targeted at the intended user(s) and are written/presented in an accessible way. Wherever possible, take care that the language you use is straightforward and jargon-free, and that everyone clearly understands all terminology used. Publications aimed at policy-makers and/or businesses and written in ‘plain English’ can be effective in highlighting the impacts of research, both during the programme and when it has been completed. Copies of communication materials can be sent to the LWEC Directorate for further dissemination.
- Interpreting research Involve a cross-section of stakeholders to help draw out the key policy and practice implications of your research. This can be highly productive not just at individual project level but also across all projects supported by a programme. Producing synthesis reports and organising targeted workshops can both be effective ways of achieving cross-programme results.
- Professional communicators Professional communicators can help to design quality publications, multimedia outputs and non-written materials (e.g. tools) which are better targeted and accessible to key audiences. Their skills may also enhance those of a KE Co-ordinator in face-to-face communications to ensure a sufficiently effective process that achieves a genuine two-way exchange of knowledge. Furthermore, through their professional networks/activities, greater impact may be possible. It might therefore be worth setting aside a realistic budget allocation for professional help.