In a new series of blogs written by staff and partners, Integrity’s Head of Communications, Kelly Shephard explains why communications is crucial to catalyse connections and develop a clearer world view.
In May, I stepped into a brand-new role at Integrity as the Head of Communications. At a time when restricted funding and Covid-19 responses have made the world of international development more complex than ever, some people may be thinking that this is a tough time to set up a new communications function. But now is actually a crucial time for me to join and here is why.
Integrity is a bright and dynamic organisation which, in its 10-year history, has incorporated a strong communications function at a project level. High quality reports, infographics, and mixed media outputs have been, and continue to be, delivered, and disseminated at an impressive rate. In the creation of my new role there is a recognition that communications are not just about broadcasting messages, but that a focus on clear and open dialogue can be vital to understand how change really happens and help to build more sustainable, richer approaches.
Having worked in communications and knowledge sharing roles for over 25 years, I am excited to shape Integrity’s internal and external communications approach. I was drawn to Integrity as I think it is a special type of consultancy. The organisation values listening and is acutely aware of the complexities and challenging contexts in which it works. It is through these strengths that I believe our voice will grow.
Integrity has a wealth of experience at thematic, programmatic, and geographic levels. Working across diverse portfolios of research and evaluation we are in a prime position to help stakeholders step back, spot connections and see more clearly.
So how can our communications approach help to achieve this level of insight? From my early days in the role, I have drawn up an essential to-do list that I believe will help us have greater impact:
- To deliver meaningful communications calls for flexible and fresh approaches. But as British Architect, Norman Foster once said, “it takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless” and so innovative approaches need to be planned. In addition to our regular programme level communications, we will be delivering on a range of carefully designed communications outputs and activities that demonstrate not just the breadth but the depth of our portfolio. These will include short accessible impact stories and news stories, accompanied by clear dissemination activities, enabling us to connect and identify synergies in the lessons we learn and the ways that we work.
- Integrity is also committed to building and strengthening networks, connecting the supply of evidence with the demand for it. Working with our partners we aim to broaden and stimulate debate; to share and listen to each other and attempt to shift attitudes and behaviours that ultimately bring about impact in the projects that we deliver. To this end, where possible, we will situate our findings into the wider world by identifying existing opportunities and ways to engage with real world issues. For instance, starting later this year, we will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions, sharing what we do and why we do it and inviting guest speakers to share their realities too.
- Integrity is not a faceless corporate company. It is a great group of experienced people who have wide ranging insights to share. We have unique skills gained in some extraordinary settings and I so want you to meet the team. To this end we will personalise our purpose. Our new Integrity Insights blog series will provide a platform for staff and partners to share our thinking and approaches through project conception and delivery.
Over the coming months I know that my to-do list will grow and grow. But as I get pulled in lots of different and exciting directions, I pledge to keeping these 3 commitments pinned to the top of my task list. The reason is simple – when we step back and build rich levels of communications into our workflow, I believe that we can have a more diverse view of the world that catalyses connections and complementarities and ultimately leads us to have a greater impact.