Are there particular communication challenges that RPPs often encounter?

A primary challenge is communicating research to a variety of audiences in a way that is accessible and succinct. The communications team, often just one person, requires a broad skill set in order to craft multiple messages that speak to different groups, even for a single piece of research.

Additionally, because partnership work is so close to the ground, RPPs must pay particular attention to how research is being received within the local political context, especially in high-stakes environments or with regard to contentious issues. A single piece of research can be understood in very different ways: an advocacy group, for example, might draw very different takeaways than a central agency office. For this reason, partnerships must not only develop their own core messages, but be prepared to respond to the myriad ways in which findings might be interpreted.

Another challenge is that uptake of a particular piece of research may occur months or even years after the research is completed. For some RPPs this means that they have to balance requests for information, presentations, workshops, or adapted tools from past research with requests for their current work. This can be difficult when the funding to support activities associated with the older work is no longer available.

A final consideration for some partnerships is the need for each partner to maintain their status as independent entities. Similarly, the partnership may need to maintain an identity that is distinct from advocacy groups that may claim that the research evidence supports their views.

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Communicating Research and Engaging Stakeholders