An ongoing challenge research communicators face is being informed and updated on the research and research outcomes at their institutions that is enabled by CFI investments — ultimately, knowing when there is something to communicate to the broader public.
To effectively share the results and outcomes of CFI investments internally some institutions have:
- Created research communicator positions, often located within their research offices;
- Set up mechanisms to share information between their research offices and communications on an ongoing basis — e.g. informed communications when outcomes are mentioned in a CFI project progress report;
- Established monthly/regular meetings of the research based business units where representatives from research communications and/or corporate communications participate;
- Used various progress reports generated by their institution, such as annual reports and Board reports, to garner communications leads;
- Implemented a process that triggers media relations to work with researchers to develop news releases and arrange interviews when a researcher publishes a scientific paper; and,
- Shared information between knowledge transfer offices and research communicators on research outcomes, such as patents granted and industry collaborations.
Here’s how one institution keeps stakeholders informed and updated on the funding decisions and research:
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a large and complex institution. It has established an effective system to ensure timely communications around CFI funding decisions to internal and external stakeholders across its multiple faculties, sites and campuses.
On receipt of funding decisions, the Institutional Programs Office immediately forwards this information to designated individuals in the Vice-President Research and Innovation Office communications team, Government Relations and Public Affairs. This team is well versed in handling embargoed information, and convenes to determine the most suitable options for communicating this news once the embargo is lifted, and any internal stakeholders that should be made aware of the decisions. The location of a national or regional CFI announcement and the scale of awards received by UBC are some of the factors that help to determine the nature of the public communications and which office will take the lead.
Together the team identifies, where relevant, suitable researchers who could be featured in any announcement or event. The Office of the VP, Research and Innovation also ensures that communications managers in the relevant faculties are informed of successful applications and of the probable timescale until the embargo is lifted. This allows these communicators to produce faculty-specific materials to support any institutional-level announcement.
As announcement dates are confirmed, plans are finalized and shared with this broader communications network. The lead office will be responsible for making the institutional announcement (which can range from an online posting to a media event) and will inform the other members of the network once this occurs, triggering the publication of faculty-specific materials and social media activities at institutional and local levels.
Coordinating the announcement across a decentralized university relies on passing the information through trusted and established channels and is more effective than a single point person trying to communicate to all stakeholders.
Portfolio Finance Director, Office of Vice President, Research & Innovation
Director, Institutional Programs
Email: sharon.wu [at] ubc.ca