CommsConsult has been managing the editorial content and marketing around the DFID research portal Research4Development (R4D) for the past eight years. R4D contains over 5000 research projects from the mid 1990s onwards and over 30,000 documents. The marketing strategy employed in the contract has involved producing a wide range of materials including e-newsletters, blogs, research-based case studies, profile videos for the web, news articles and other marketing materials.
R4D contains highly valuable research for academics, journalists, project workers, policy makers, students and others who have an interest in meeting the challenges facing people in the developing world. The groups within this audience work in largely separate professional networks from one another. As such, they engage with research in different ways, and we have had to take account of this by producing materials relevant to the audience in question.
The disconnected nature of this audience proved as much as an opportunity to us as a challenge. Facilitating interactions between these culturally disconnected groups and knowledge bases has helped assist development efforts across the board by making the same DFID research culturally relevant to all audiences. This is one example of how strategic communication can play far more than a simply supportive role within global development.
As well as developing and producing weekly content for the R4D newswire, CommsConsult has developed a strong social media presence for R4D, setting up a twitter account (@DFID_Research) in 2010 and an R4D facebook page in 2012.
Our tweets and facebook posts have given focus to DFID-funded research by making followers aware of projects, documents and the latest research news.
As part of the management of the account, we also put our energies into engaging with our followers, facilitating two-way dialogue within the growing DFID research communities.
Over the past few years we have built up a diverse and knowledgeable group of followers and friends through active engagement, and by providing interesting content. Our belief that talking about research in this way helps build awareness and momentum around key issues, and promotes more widespread use of evidence based research, has been evidenced in our steadily growing audiences with @DFID_Research followers now exceeding 12,000 and the Facebook page achieving over 1,000 likes in 2013.