The latest report from the Discovery Decade team considers a selection of sector-led efforts to unite R&D advocates and shift the identity of R&D in people’s minds, in order to understand what worked and what we can learn for the future.
Building a public identity for R&D: Lessons from past campaigns
31 Jan 2023
As part of our Discovery Decade project, we have sought to understand public attitudes to R&D and highlight best practice from across the sector. In this report, published today, we consider a curated selection of sector-led efforts to unite R&D advocates and shift the identity of R&D in people’s minds, in order to understand what worked and what we can learn for the future. The efforts highlighted are: Science [So What? So Everything]; Science is Vital; MadeAtUni; Research at Risk; SHAPE: Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy and 101 Jobs That Change The World.
For each, we have assessed the aims, audiences, tactics, successes and challenges, drawing a set of lessons learned from the initiatives. We have made six overarching recommendations that we hope will be useful to future efforts to build a public identity for R&D:
- Start and finish with understanding your audience: Successful campaigns understand their target audiences and recalibrate themselves by regularly returning to the data.
- Be brutal and bold – but always honest: Successful campaigns talk about having to be brutal when defining their key lines – even if it brings risks.
- Make your messages relevant and relatable: Successful campaigns choose messages that are meaningful to the audience they are trying to reach.
- Collaborate to create an effective campaign: Successful campaigns involve the partners who will be promoting their messages as early as possible to help build support.
- Target financial resources wisely: Successful campaigns make effective use of financial resources – they know when to hire external help and when to focus in-house.
- Dedicate sufficient time and capacity: Successful campaigns use and balance their time and capacity wisely.
Discovery Decade Director Ben Bleasdale said:
“CaSE’s Discovery Decade project wants to make R&D feel relevant and urgent to more people. If our sector can’t make its case clearly and passionately, then how can we expect the public – or Ministers – to put R&D on the priority list?
“To build a stronger public identity for R&D, those advocating for R&D must work together. This report highlights just how much we can learn from each other’s campaigning work, including understanding our audience, honing our messages, and being savvy with our delivery.
“Alongside this report, the Discovery Decade team have carried out an extensive piece of audience research into public attitudes to R&D investment. We’re excited to launch our findings and the data we’ve collected on 28 February. Join us on the launch day webinar to learn more.”
We are drawing on the lessons learned here to inform the wider Discovery Decade project, which also includes an extensive piece of audience research into public attitudes to R&D (due to be launched in late February 2023) and the development of campaign prototypes and tools to help the R&D sector build effective campaigns.
Our upcoming Annual Lecture on the 28th February will be an opportunity to hear more about the work from the Chair of the project Kim Shillinglaw. An accompanying webinar will also provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the published data with the team that have gathered it.
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CaSE’s Discovery Decade project has today published a set of reports highlighting best practice in engaging the public on R&D