Policy Communication Toolkit

This Policy Communication Toolkit is a resource to bridge the gap that often lies between research and policy. It consolidates tools, materials, and approaches PRB has developed and refined over 30 years of training researchers to communicate with policy audiences. Research often has profound implications for policy, but without effective communication between researchers and policy audiences, the significance of research findings may be lost. Through this toolkit, users can build skills to bridge this gap, with the goal of increasing the use of evidence in policy and decisionmaking.

This training toolkit includes all the materials PRB uses to train family planning, reproductive health, and population researchers, experts, and advocates to:

  • Understand the process by which research informs the policy environment.
  • Identify key policy audiences.
  • Identify and communicate the policy implications of research.
  • Communicate messages through a variety of platforms, including policy briefs, oral presentations, data visualizations, social media, and more.

Researchers, nongovernmental organizations, donors, advocacy organizations, think tanks, and universities can use this toolkit to develop training programs according to their specific needs.

View the modules in French here and in Spanish here.

Each module contains learning objectives, instructional presentations, individual and group exercises, and suggested homework/reading. Each session includes guidance for facilitators, such as presentation speaker notes, instructions for exercises, and guidelines for discussion.

Completing all sessions included in the toolkit’s modules would require a 2-week training, which is not feasible for most users. The content included in the first two modules (From Research to Policy and Strategic Communication) provide the conceptual underpinning for how to communicate data and evidence to policy audiences. The subsequent modules focus on building those communication skills for a certain medium. Consider what skills—writing, presentations, negotiations, social media, data visualization, or traditional media—would be most valuable to your participants, then select the sessions from relevant modules. Module 9, Youth Leaders, includes additional recommendations on which other modules to include when training youth participants.

Each component of the toolkit has a code affiliated with it, such as WM1L. The code includes the initials of the module, a number for the suggested order of the module’s sessions, and a letter designating the type of material (see table). These codes help with organization and cross-referencing within the curriculum.

L   Lecture
E   Exercise
A   Assignment
G   Group Discussion
D   Discussion
F   Field Trip

French and Spanish translations of the training curriculum can be downloaded as a zip file from each module’s landing page, with the exception of Module 9, which is forthcoming.

Using the Toolkit

Depending on participants’ needs, trainers can select from among the modules and sessions included in the toolkit to build a curriculum that best suits their goals and participants’ skill level. Although most toolkit sessions are geared toward researchers, the content can be easily adapted for other participants, such as program staff, program implementers, advocates, and youth leaders.

Each module contains between one and five instructional presentations that outline key concepts and policy communication skills. Additional sessions and exercises build on the instructional presentations, adding complexity and providing opportunities for participants to apply the skills individually and in small groups. Supplementary Activities include Working Group sessions where participants meet with a mentor in a small group, discussing and gaining feedback on how they apply the skills to their own research or advocacy topic. Supplementary Activities also include guidance for designing optional sessions with external speakers or suggested site visits. Over several decades, we have found that allowing participants time to truly apply the policy communication skills through their own research topics facilitates the most valuable learning.

Planning a Successful Workshop

To plan a successful workshop, identify what skills are most relevant for your participant group.

Preparing participants in advance is critical to the success of any workshop. Convey the agenda and expectations for the workshop in advance. Depending on how you structure the sessions, homework readings and assignments will likely be required outside of training hours. Many of the exercises ask participants to apply the skills to a body of research or advocacy topic with which they are familiar. Participants should come to the training with the results of that research, or a clearly defined topic for advocacy, in order to make the most of these sessions. While most examples in this training focus on family planning method choice in developing countries, the policy communication skills can be adapted and applied to any topic area.

Sample agendas are included here for two-day, five-day, and two-week workshops.