Reflecting the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy and its six strategic objectives, the Outreach Program is designed to communicate the work of ACIAR to a wide variety of audiences, both in Australia and overseas.
The objectives of the ACIAR Outreach Program are to:
- communicate the value and impact of our work, and increase our reputation as a trusted and valued partner
- build closer, more effective working relationships with our partners and other stakeholders
- support the communication needs of our country offices, with an emphasis on detailing research results and outcomes achieved at a regional and country level.
In 2020–21, comprehensive and coordinated strategies and plans, programs and projects will be developed and/or implemented to achieve these objectives. This work will include:
- developing an integrated campaign-orientated content strategy, including segmenting our messaging to key target audiences
- identifying opportunities to engage with stakeholders, including leveraging the profile and networks of the members of the Commission for International Agricultural Research
- continuing to improve the user experience of the ACIAR website, including the roll out of a research knowledge hub on the Research Portal component of the website
- incorporating a new digital platform for signature ACIAR publications to expand the reach to our scientific and research partners
- partnering with domestic and international media organisations to raise our profile with a wide audience
- expanding our In-Country Communication Officer Network to increase our reach and continue to communicate actively and effectively in-country and in our regions.
The ACIAR website has undergone significant redevelopment in the past two years, at both the front and back ends. User experience is now much improved on project, program, country and regional pages, and the search function is also much improved. During 2020–21, there will be further development of the website to increase usability, provide richer content and improve reach to our audiences. New infographic and data visualisation content will be produced, on a continual basis, to tell our stories in various creative formats.
At the same time, search engine optimisation of the website content is being reviewed and audited, to ensure it improves our site visibility and increases our organic traffic.
A more dynamic news-style blog page will developed, along with a digital publications page for signature publications. The digital publications page will transform PDF documents into fluid html content to improve the user experience for both desktop and mobile formats.
Growing from 20,000 followers in 2017 to an audience of nearly 80,000 in 2020, ACIAR social media channels are key communication tools. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, ACIAR can reinforce the impact of ACIAR-funded research to an engaged audience. In 2020–21, we will conduct an audit of our social media channels to develop a deeper understanding of the different audiences following ACIAR on each platform. We will use this knowledge to create more targeted content and segment our messaging to key audiences.
Digital content production will continue with an emphasis on short-form video, photography and infographics.
In addition, a network of science, agriculture and development sector digital influencers will also be developed to amplify our voice and increase reach and engagement with our digital content.
ACIAR will continue to partner with media organisations, both domestically and internationally, to raise the profile of our work with a wider audience. In 2020–21, we will engage with journalists in our region online to allow for COVID-19 travel restrictions. ACIAR will also work closely with the Crawford Fund to generate positive media coverage, especially in regional and agriculture-based media in Australia.
Work will continue on developing a comprehensive domestic stakeholder engagement strategy to ensure we take a strategic approach to improving awareness and detailed understanding of ACIAR among specific domestic stakeholder groups.
In 2020–21, the stakeholder engagement strategy will aim to:
- increase engagement with Australian stakeholders, including their awareness and understanding of the ACIAR value proposition with information specifically targeted to a domestic audience
- strengthen relationships with select stakeholder organisations to establish productive partnerships, collaborations and co-delivered initiatives
- identify opportunities to leverage the profile and networks of members of the Commission for International Agricultural Research to raise awareness of and advocate for ACIAR
- position ACIAR to help deliver on its 10-year strategy.
While COVID-19 has seen many events cancelled or postponed, ACIAR will continue to participate in key sector events online to share the results of ACIAR research with a highly targeted audience.
A significant event for ACIAR in 2021 will be hosting an online Annual Council Meeting of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. It is anticipated that the event will be attended by more than 100 delegates. ACIAR will take up a term as the Council Chair of the alliance when it hosts the meeting in March 2021. The council meeting is an opportunity to increase the presence and involvement of the Pacific region on the Global Research Alliance, as well as assist in building partnerships to grow climate change action in agriculture around the world.
We will also continue to create opportunities to host online webinar events involving keynote speakers from ACIAR and partner organisations and agencies, along with participating and sponsoring key sector events where appropriate.
Publications, including annual corporate reports, are an essential part of our outreach and communication work. Publications contribute to ensuring more diverse audiences in Australia, and in our partner countries, can access and use research findings.
The Scientific Publications Committee will ensure the quality and relevance of ACIAR scientific publications, so that our scientific and research partners are better served with improved review processes and more timely production of research publications.
During 2020–21, we will develop a new digital design on the website for signature publications to enhance the user experience. We will also work to continuously improve our Publications Production and Distribution Program, strengthening internal production support systems and processes to manage the timely production, distribution and promotion of ACIAR publications.
Corporate publications will be published according to statutory and legislative requirements, and these will be available both online and, in limited numbers, as hard copy. Two additional corporate reports will be produced for stakeholders.
The production of our flagship publication, Partners in Research for Development, continues on a quarterly basis, with ongoing review of content, audiences and delivery modes. This will also include a new digital format for 2020–21.
In 2020–21, we will continue the scale-out of a network of communication professionals to our country offices in Laos, India and Indonesia (in consultation with relevant posts and their COVID-19 protocols).
Currently, there are communication officers in five country offices: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Kenya. Communication plans and activities will continue to be devised and delivered on a country or regional basis to help ACIAR country offices with communications expertise, ensuring more proactive content is being produced and increasing engagement with our partners and stakeholders.
Integrated and themed communication campaigns will be delivered during 2020–21. This will include a campaign delivered in partnership with the Crawford Fund, targeting the next generation of Australian international agricultural researchers. The Next Gen campaign will focus on undergraduates and students and teachers in agricultural high schools to profile careers in the agricultural research-for-development sector and highlight opportunities to become involved.
General Manager, Outreach and Capacity Building
Ms Eleanor Dean