An impact strategy incorporates communications activities combined with a good understanding of government relations as practised by advocacy groups and professional lobbyists. With communications strategies, it is necessary to identify key recipients of the assessment, prepare key messages and products that will help them grasp the essentials of the research, and identify appropriate channels to deliver those messages and products, including the media, participation in events (e.g., conferences, workshops), and electronic delivery via e-mail and web. In Module 7, you will learn more about the full range of tools and tactics available for the production and release of the reports and its supplementary products.
An impact strategy builds on communications activities in several key respects.
||Traditional communications activities
||Goal is to effect change, and to identify your potential role as a change agent.
||Goal is to ensure people understand the findings and recommendations.
||Small group of key actors and those who have access to those actors.
||Developed at the beginning of the assessment process, monitored and adjusted throughout the process.
||Part of the impact strategy; usually implemented towards the end of the strategy when findings and recommendations are known.
An impact strategy is focused explicitly and deliberately on change, and on the potential of the lead institution’s role as a change agent. An impact strategy starts with an articulation of what the impact of your assessment should be. What should be done differently as a direct result of the assessment. Some of the power to effect change based on the findings may indeed rest with you, depending on your role within your bureaucracy. Usually more senior bureaucrats or politicians must be engaged to bring about policy reform, or leaders in the public and private sectors who may have roles to play in changing practice. An impact strategy identifies these key actors, and plans for ways to build their receptivity to the findings.
In the past, communications activities have tended to focus primarily on the effective and efficient delivery of the findings and recommendations. The communications plan also often has an important corporate function: the promotion of the department and government that has been responsible for developing the report and demonstrating accountability through compliance with the mandate for the assessment.
The audience for the IEA and the target group for its impact strategy may be a small group key actors who are in a position to have significant influence on environmental outcomes if they adopt the assessment’s findings and recommendations. Directly reaching these influential actors, however, may be difficult. Instead, the impact strategy may target those who are able to influence them or try to reach them through other channels indirectly, for example through the mainstream media. Your ultimate objective should be to reach those people whom you definitely want to act on the IEA’s results.
Communications activities will always include broader audiences: those who can benefit from the information contained in the report and become actors in their own way.
An impact strategy should be developed from the very beginning of the assessment process, and monitored and adjusted throughout the process. The communications activities are an important component of the impact strategy, and are usually implemented towards the end of an assessment, once the findings and recommendations become clear.
See Exercise 3.3.1 ...