It’s not enough to simply write a policy brief and hope that it is disseminated widely. Policy briefs offer the researcher an opportunity to repackage their research findings into a powerfully framed message. However, writing a brief is not on its own enough to help your message fly! There are a number of steps you can take that will help your policy briefs go further.
If you have access to a blog that has a decent following then take advantage of it! Write a short post that focuses on your key message and why it’s important. Blogs provide a platform for active engagement, and often have good social media share functions that could help spread your message.
2. Add as news to your website
This one of may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many organisations fail to inform their key audiences that they have published a new brief, and what its contextual significance is.
3. Reference your brief on Wikipedia
Wikipedia, once shunned by the research community, is increasingly gaining in popularity as a rich and in-depth source of information. Often, overlooked is that fact that researchers can also use Wikipedia to promote their own work by adding it as a reference to an entry that relates to their own work.
If your organisation has a twitter account, make the most of it by tweeting about your policy brief. If not, then why not start your own, follow some people who share your research interests, and there is a good chance they will follow you back. You will soon have enough of a following to make posting about your work worthwhile.
5. Post to Facebook
Even if you don’t use Facebook for professional purposes you might be surprised by the response you get from your friends if you post information about your latest policy brief to your wall. If your organisation has a Facebook page make sure that it also posts information about your brief.
6. Post links to your brief within comments
The blogger sphere is expanding very quickly, and even if you don’t have access to a popular blog of your own, there are likely to be several highly popular blogs that relate in some way to your research interests. Look at the posts on these and see if there is one that you can add some relevant commentary to, based on the message within your brief (and remember to link directly to it).
7. Post to groups on LinkedIn
Another channel you may want to explore is LinkedIn and its ever growing number of groups. Take a look to see if there are any groups that relate to your research, sign-up, and then keep the group informed about your work.
8. Email contacts
Most organisations send out a regular e-newsletter to keep people informed of organisational news and events. If so, take advantage of that by linking to a news story or blog about the brief. If your organisation does not have an e-newsletter then why not push for one, or explore other options. For instance, funders are often thirsty for news and outputs from work they have supported, so see if they will publicise your brief through their own news channels and e-newsletter. I can think of a number of instances when this approach has worked very well, so give it a try.
You may even want to send out an e-newsletter as an individual, and if you have your own blog this could be a good way of drawing attention to it. I am sure you have been to conferences and shared business cards with people. If you have these cards stashed away somewhere dig them out and add them to any other existing contacts that share an interest in your area of work. Hopefully there will be a good spread of people from different fields (i.e. researchers, NGOs, civil servants, knowledge brokers etc.). Then simply email these people suggesting they might be interested in your latest work. Try something like Mail Chimp here to help you manage your contact list and make the process much easier.