In our business, if people don’t know what you’re doing, then you might as well not be doing it.
The Prevention Centre has a large and distributed group of researchers and practitioners who participate in our work. There is an even larger network of the same whom we seek to inform and influence. Communication has been a core element of the Prevention Centre capacity.
It’s not just about a newsletter or bulletin that lets people know about what is happening currently, although these are important. It has involved building a platform from which our work can be seen through different communication tools – push and pull strategies, a website that is attractive to first time visitors and useful for those trying to find either specific research or researchers, and a social media strategy so that we have visibility in that increasingly crowded space. It’s also about building links with mainstream and less conventional media.
Probably the biggest challenge is getting our researchers to tell their stories, to explain their research and how they have worked with our industry partners to produce it, and getting our partners to explain how it has influenced their decision making when this is complex and influenced by many factors.
Our core philosophy is about systems thinking and implementing change in complex environments, yet we have to communicate that simple and clearly. I think we have been a leader in how to do all of this within a fairly modest budget.
I want to use this column to acknowledge the great work initiated by Marge Overs and followed through by Helen Signy and Ainsley Burgess. Unfortunately, Helen is moving on to a new exciting challenge. We will use this as an opportunity to rethink our strategies, particularly with our Knowledge Translation Fellow, Michelle Irving, now active with our projects in developing their translation plans. But it will remain a critical part of our work.