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Bespoke communications training for FARA
In 2011 Green Ink provided bespoke training to strengthen the communication and media liaison skills of professional staff at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Good communication is pivotal to FARA's advocacy and coordination roles and the forum's strategy requires staff to be effective promoters of African research for development. In particular, FARA wanted training that would help its people develop clear messages and deliver them to diverse stakeholder groups including researchers, policymakers, development workers and farmers.
We developed a three-day training course, which offered specific and practical advice on good communications practice. The course used scenarios, communication materials and case studies relevant to the issues that face FARA staff. It was designed to be highly interactive and, over the 3 days, participants variously found themselves distilling the key messages from their projects, characterizing their target audiences, perfecting their policy briefs, delivering elevator pitches and building a media strategy for an institutional event – all in front of an audience consisting of their peers. The course was followed by a communications surgery, allowing FARA staff to approach the Green Inkers for one-to-one advice on their communication activities.
FARA participants proved themselves to be keen communicators, who made many valuable contributions on the basis of their own experience and expertise. Feedback forms revealed a strong positive reaction to the course, with the practical exercises proving most popular. It was a pleasure to work with such motivated individuals and we have been told that that they are already putting their new skills to good use.
Flex those writing muscles!
Non-native speakers often feel ‘stiff’ when they write in English – strait-jacketed by their limited grasp of vocabulary, syntax and idiom. Green Ink’s mentoring service can help them loosen up, gaining fluency and confidence. We offer low-cost, one-on-one relationships by Skype or email, linking the ‘mentee’ with one of our experienced writer/editors.
One person who has benefited from this service is Teresa Moreno. A Spanish national, Teresa was recruited to the Netherlands-based Bernard van Leer Foundation as editor of the Spanish edition of the foundation’s flagship journal, Early Childhood Matters. When the editor of the English edition left, she was asked to take responsibility for that as well.
To begin the mentoring relationship, Teresa first spent a week at Green Ink’s main offices in Devon, UK, where she worked alongside the company’s most experienced science writer, Simon Chater. An initial visit of this kind isn’t a must, but it’s a good way of diagnosing needs and discovering good writing habits. During her visit Teresa completed work on an editorial for the journal’s next issue, a letter soliciting contributions from authors and a blurb for the inside front cover. She also kept a diary, daily practice being one of the best ways of achieving fluency – it’s just like keeping fit.
After her visit Teresa kept in touch by email, providing further drafts for comments. We also developed a bibliography for her and devised an exercise in the use of link words – one of the needs diagnosed during her visit.
“Thanks again for this intensive bespoke course. I appreciate it a great deal.”
Jan van Dongen, Head of Publishing, Bernard van Leer Foundation,
In 2007 we provided training in the use of the design and layout programme, InDesign, for a group of professionals at the new Research Into Use (RIU) programme of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Green Ink’s graphic designer Paul Philpot visited the programme’s offices in Kent, UK for 3 days to provide an introduction to the programme and hands-on instruction in specific skills and techniques.