At ODI, our communications strategy focuses on getting our research and evidence in front of the right people at the right time, so it can help them make informed decisions. We do this through influential convening and tailored individual briefings, as well as through strategic media and social media work.
How do you sift through the noise to find credible evidence? And how do you respond rapidly in an interconnected world, where opinion often seems to trump fact?
The explosion in global communications has transformed our lives. Now more than ever, we can share ideas, experiences and opinions across the world in seconds, at the touch of a smart-phone screen. For policy-makers, this access to information presents enormous opportunities and challenges. How do you sift through the noise to find credible evidence? And how do you respond rapidly in an interconnected world, where opinion often seems to trump fact?
In 2015-2016 – a critical year for development – ODI stepped up its public affairs work. Our findings on the financing of the new Sustainable Development Goals and the ‘Leave No One Behind’ agenda were heard at key meetings in Addis Ababa and New York. In the UK, we engaged with the new government and parliament, hosting the UK Secretary of State for International Development as she gave her first major speech after the general election. Our experts gave evidence to parliamentary committees and our research was cited in official committee reports and parliamentary debates. More broadly, our #GlobalChallenges event series provided a platform for Nobel Laureates to debate issues like gender equality and environmental sustainability, whilst our new ‘In Conversation’ format allowed for a deeper examination of development issues with leading figures in their field.
ODI researchers are often in demand with the media, which looks to them to provide expert commentary on unfolding global events. They regularly appear on influential global broadcast outlets, such as the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNBC, as well as in print publications like the Financial Times, Economist, Daily Nation in Kenya and The Times of India. In the year under review, ODI’s research was picked up in media outlets across 122 countries, more than half in the Global South.
Our social media has one of the largest followings in the sector and continued its strong growth. ODI’s distinctive animations, infographics and data visualisations were widely shared across these channels throughout the year. Our infographics were tweeted by leaders as varied as philanthropist Bill Gates, Professor Hans Rosling and UN climate chief Christiana Figueres. We continued to experiment with Twitter discussions on cash transfers and development imagery – both of which sparked lively conversations long after the official discussions closed.
Looking forward, we will continue to be at the forefront of communication trends, ensuring that our rigorous, ground-breaking research is accessible to the public and policymakers through our world-class communications effort.
Ishbel Matheson, Director of Public Affairs and Communications