Define your audience and decide which promotional tool is most appropriate for the research you are promoting.
This guidance note is the second in our series on the journey from research to impact.
- The research to impact journey: an overview
- How to promote research
- How to undertake knowledge exchange
- How to monitor and record impact
Promotion of individual research papers
New research papers that contain a strong message for a target audience group and that also focus on defined and agreed key messages (for CREDS, key messages focus on energy demand reduction, flexible demand and use of decarbonised energy) should be promoted.
Suggested baseline activities:
- Add the research paper to the publications section of the website
- Share on social media and,
- If a blog is written to accompany the paper, share the blog in external newsletters and social media.
Some papers are likely to attract wider interest and warrant more promotion. Typically these are more applied topics, but some concepts might be of interest if they are currently within mainstream media discourse. Before deciding what promotion to do, it is essential that i) clarity about who the audience is and ii) what the key messages from the research are, is obtained.
Audience and messages
CREDS’ main audiences are:
- policy (government – local, devolved, national)
- the energy demand research community.
CREDS has dedicated Knowledge Exchange Managers for each audience group who work to build relationships with stakeholders within these groupings. Although CREDS does not directly engage with the public, often there might be messages in the research that are more public facing, in which case, promotion to media via outlets, such as the BBC or, the Guardian would be warranted. And of course, a good story is still read by researchers, business or policymakers in these outlets too. Once clarity about the audience and key messages is obtained, this helps determine which outlets might be interested.
How to promote research or respond to external debate depends on the audience group you are trying to reach. The concept of a promotion toolkit is useful to ascertain which promotional tool, at what point in a journey, might be appropriate to use – to share, promote and disseminate research. It could be lighter touches, like tweeting or blogging to turn a paper into something more accessible, through to more concerted efforts such as tailored workshops or meetings with specific businesses or policymakers to discuss detailed research findings (knowledge exchange).
Research to promotion journey
CREDS has developed a five-step process to show how research to promotion can work in practice. Steps 1 and 2 are carried out by the researchers, steps 3 and 4 are completed in collaboration between the researchers and the CREDS core team, and step 5 is mostly the CREDS core team.
1 Undertake research & write papers. 2 Summarise main / broad findings. 3 Identify main messages / recommendations per audience group – policy / research / business. 4 Clarify specific stakeholders within audience groups – who? 5 Determine best route to reach stakeholders – use toolkit: briefing, webinar, blog, workshop etc.
The knowledge exchange (KE) and communications managers within CREDS’ core team work together to identify which promotion tool should be used, and when. If it’s for the media, the communications manager will usually take a stronger lead, if it’s for meetings or one to one engagement, the KE manager would take a stronger lead being closer to their specific audience groups.
If the audience is predominately policy makers, we often suggest a policy brief is developed ensuring that key recommendations for policy audiences are included.
If it’s decided that a research paper should be promoted to the media, a news release or a summary document should be developed, which will be sent to relevant outlets. Sometimes approaching one or more outlets to co-develop a news story is advisable.
Several media outlets might want to run a story based on the news release on a designated day with a ‘launch’ approach. You would normally need to be available to speak to the media directly, and this might include interviews. The news release about the research would also be posted CREDS’ website on the designated day.
Template for promoting a research paper
The template below is a useful starting point to decide which promotion tools would be appropriate.
|Which audience are you most trying to reach with your new paper as a whole?||Researchers
|Does your research contain strong messages for a particular audience type? Which one?|
|Briefly summarise what the key messages from your paper are and why it matters for xyz audience.|
|Are there any particular outlets you think might be interested? Do you have contacts?|
Banner photo credit: Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern. Photo: Steph Ferguson