Dissemination is a long name for a simple idea: that you share your knowledge with the people who need it.
So how does a dissemination strategy work in the more complex area of international projects? The first thing is to identify these essential elements:
- Who can benefit from your knowledge? (These people are your audience)
- What do you want them to know? (This is your message)
- How can you best reach them? (This is your method).
If you think about any project, you’ll quickly realise that there’s more than one set of people who can benefit from its results. Each set will likely want to know different things. As an example, many Erasmus+ VET mobility (Key Action 1) projects involve learners travelling to another country for work placements. While this not an exhaustive list, example audiences and messages for this kind of project could include:
|Audience (who to share with)
||Message (the learning/results you want to share)
|Other learners and staff in the organisation||New subject-related techniques and approaches that were learned during the work placement|
|Potential participants in future projects||Tips on making the most of the placement e.g. cultural adaptation, practical travel advice|
|Local vocational employers||Chance to employ local vocational learners with recent, relevant work experience and intercultural skills|
|Other vocational colleges||Expertise in project management and guidance on how to build international mobility into college life|
|Decision-makers in the education board||Benefits Erasmus+ has brought to the organisation; opportunity to expand the benefits to other organisations under the same education board|
|International organisations||Experience of using international systems e.g. ECVET
Reaching the Right Ears
Once you’ve identified your audiences and messages, it’s time to think about the method: how will you reach these different audiences? A learner, an employer and a decision-maker are unlikely to get their information from the exact same place. Although there may be some crossover, you will have to change your approach depending on who you want to connect with.
Consider what kind of communication your different audiences prefer. If all your learners use Facebook, then a Facebook page will be effective for reaching learners. However, if local employers all read the local press then an article in the newspaper would be a better way to reach them. You should also consider what methods are already available to you. Is your organisation part of a network that has a newsletter, hosts events, or posts blogs? Tapping into their audience may well help you reach yours.
Consider what kind of communication your different audiences prefer.
Charis Hughes, Léargas
Connecting with your audience
The next stage is to connect with your audience so that you can get your message across. But as we saw in the previous post, most projects will have more than one audience. Here are some points to consider when targeting different audiences:
- Be flexible with your style and tone. Listen to the way your audience communicate, and talk to them in ‘their’ language. A young person will probably not communicate the same way as a Government official, so the same material will not work for both.
- Give your audience context for your information. They will not be as familiar with the project or its terms. If possible, ask someone who knows nothing about the project to look at your material. Can they easily grasp what you’re saying?
- Focus your efforts on the people you most want to reach.
Some audiences are harder to reach than others. Connecting with peers in your sector may be easier than connecting with policy makers: but if changing policy is the goal of your project, then policy makers are your key audience!
Using Social Media
Many projects use social media to connect. It is cheap, immediate and allows you to track if people are engaging with your message. If you are new to using social media for work, here are some points to bear in mind!
- Social media is designed for conversation, not for announcements. To be effective you will need to monitor it and post regularly, which can be time-consuming. It’s better to concentrate on one platform (such as Facebook, Instagram, Snap or Twitter) that you use regularly, than to have rarely-used accounts on every platform possible!
- If you’re using Facebook, set up a page (not a personal profile or group) so that everyone can see and share your posts.
- If you’re using Twitter, choose a short, unique hashtag for your project so that people can find information about it easily. Do a quick search to check if the hashtag is already in regular use, or has unwelcome associations!
- Use social media to build up networks of organisations with similar interests. It’s likely they can benefit from your knowledge and be inspired by your work.
- Encourage everyone involved in the project to join in the conversation, so that multiple points of view are reflected.
- Finally, let us know the great things you’re doing! Tag @leargas on Twitter and @leargas.ireland on Facebook so that we can see and share your posts.
Strong images are a great way to connect. An image can be taken in at a glance, so will reach more people than text can. The easiest way to get strong images from your project is to take them yourself. You don’t need fancy equipment; a phone camera, when used well, can work wonders! Before you click the button, remember:
- Get consent : Let people know you are taking their photo, and what it will be used for. Be aware you may need parental consent if taking photos of people under 18.
- Get close: People respond strongly to faces and expressions – much more than ceilings and floors! – so don’t be afraid to get close to the action.
- Get some active shots!: Create a sense of your project by showing people engaged in its activities, rather than always posed for a photo.
- Look for strong light and shoot in high quality: A photo that looks fine on your display screen can get very grainy when it’s enlarged, so set your camera to its highest possible quality level.
Compare the two photos below. What information can you tell about the project from each one?
If you don’t have or can’t use your own photos, don’t just choose some from an image search – you might be violating someone’s copyright! Instead, look at websites where you can download free stock photos for public use. These are some of our favourites:
There are also tools to help you create strong graphics quickly. One of the best is Canva, a free online design programme with a wide choice of templates, icons and typefaces. It’s particularly helpful for designing newsletters or announcements.
Finally, your finished material – whether a photograph, video, newsletter or website – must credit Erasmus+. This is both to acknowledge the public money that you’ve received to fund the project, and to inspire other organisations with the possibilities that the programme offers! To credit Erasmus+, use the programme logo and write “Funded (or ‘co-funded’, depending on your project finance) by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union”. If you’d also like to credit Léargas, which is helpful for other Irish organisations, please do!
If you are unsure about how to use logos or need them in other formats, please contact us in the Communications team.