Waterlines: Confluence and Hope through Environmental Communication. The 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE). June 17-21, 2019, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Taking a more strategic approach to your communication activities

Lawrence Kirk's picture
Kirk, Lawrence
Category of presentation: 
Scholarly papers

Communication is getting harder, not easier. The global reach and instant accessibility of information has now provided an environment that is clogged with competing messages. Messages about your science initiative not only have to compete with other global content, but now must be presented in ever changing formats to meet expectations of your audiences. 

The need to take a more strategic approach to science communication is increasing. No longer will the use of one medium or format be considered acceptable by your audiences. 

This paper provides an overview of an approach that was developed in 2000 by the former Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) based in South East Australia. The MDBC coordinated water and land-based science research across 6 governments and had an active community advisory committee representing the major watershed catchments (MDBC a, 2000). 

To ensure that the coordinated investment was effectively communicated, a strategic process was developed for the planning of all communication activities. This process was then expanded into a highly interactive workshop approach that allowed the prioritisation of communication tactics in less than 3 hours. Since 2006 the process has been used as the basis for a subject at the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at The Australian National University. 

Central to this approach is defining the desired relationships with partner groupings and the evaluation of the type of relationships. The method also includes an interactive workshop approach where communication tactics are selected and prioritised based on their contribution to the desired relationship with a communication partner and a desired communication outcome.

The result of using this process and taking a strategic approach is more effective communication and greater uptake of your science messages.