Communications and Knowledge Management
‘Working Together Better’ session at the
IRMC workshop 27 Feb–1 Mar 2017

Ideas (in no particular order) from the general discussion

following the presentation by Shirley Tarawali and from

the World Café table group discussions

on media news and social media that followed.


COMMUNICATIONS AND FUNDRAISING
Send email letters to donors of news clippings about work funded by those donors

WEB PRESENCE
Consider adding new tag words for ILRI tagging of materials

Consider moving some wiki sites to pages of the ILRI main website so that this content gets more professional housing and a broader audience

Redo the look and feel of the ILRI website, and improve the content published on the research and regional pages

Centralize the management of ILRI Flickr and other sites to ensure there are no redundant sites

Make the websites of ILRI collaborative projects more professional; be more flexible about modifying these as requested by project staff

Find ways to continuously update ilrinet content

Do not oversaturate readers with ILRI information

SOCIAL MEDIA
Do more to target individuals and specific donors and partner organizations on social media platforms

EMBEDDED COMMUNICATIONS STAFF
Improve the evaluation and empowerment of the communications staff embedded in program and regions

Corporate communications staff should always copy embedded communications staff in communications issues related to their programs/regions and vice versa

Ensure clear action points and clarify the broader communications roles of the embedded communications staff

Improve networking among the embedded communications staff

Note that the qualifications of the embedded communications staff vary greatly

Clarify who is responsible for project communications

ALL COMMUNICATIONS STAFF
Occasionally invite program leaders to participate in the regular meetings of communications teams in Addis and Nairobi

Reinvigorate communications teamwork among embedded and corporate communications staff

REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS
Raise ILRI’s regional visibility through promotion of launches and other high-profile events and through publication of policy and foresight materials

Regional communications request fewer ‘approval hurdles’ and more flexibility and independence

Find ways to hire communications staff to be embedded in each region

Do more to highlight regional success stories

Try organizing the next corporate report along regional structures and stories

TRANLSATIONS
Raise the priority of translating materials into French (for West Africa) and other languages, as appropriate, by (1) project putting such translating work into their budgets and (2) being more innovative about how to get these translations done (e.g., get co-authors on papers to do the translations cheaply)

COMMUNICATIONS ETHICS
Create an ethics policy for how to handle situations where there is pressure to suppress publication of research results due to national concerns and/or political considerations, in awareness of the fact that some government agencies are unlikely to favour giving the green light to publications including results that could alarm their constituencies or make the governments look bad in some way

Ensure that stories that do not originate from ILRI staff are attributed correctly, e.g., by highlighting the first authors of papers with non-ILRI first authors.

Make sure ILRI does not appear to hijack the work/results of other organizations, e.g., stress donors and partners rather than ILRI

COMMUNICATIONS INTEGRITY
Note that the rush to publish results can threated the integrity of that data and the reputation of ILRI

Improve the ‘Self-critical culture’—evidence-based—at ILRI

Note that English scientific writing talent is lacking among many ILRI communications staff and scientists

Note that virtual communications have serious limitations

Better balance the tendency of communications staff to ‘hype’ reality

Find ways to disrupt the normal ‘homophilic’ tendencies of people so as to enable staff to ‘hear new things’ and ‘get new perspectives’

STORY DEVELOPMENT
Develop and institute mechanisms to collect and highlight the ‘big stories’ from ILRI

ILRI communications staff should regularly request program and regional staff to provide them with their ‘big’ upcoming stories

Programs should provide lists of upcoming events, story ideas.

Do more to get others in other countries to tell our stories, including having ILRI staff based outside of Kenya and Ethiopia to inform ILRI communications staff of such opportunities

Do more to ensure that ILRI communications do not appear too bitty/fragmented—lacking the larger context

MISCELLANEOUS
Use Up Work to hire consultants, especially for such work as transcription and multimedia

Be prepared to give extra communications support to the launch of ILRI’s new Genebank at the April Board Meeting in Addis

ILRI scientists should work for higher presence on Research Gate.