Many rural, NRM and agricultural organisations invest sometimes significant amounts on communication programs which we all agree can play a vital role in growing next and end user knowledge, awareness and understanding. Why then are these clearly important activities not always measured as rigorously as the research and adoption and extension programs, with communication outcomes clearly linked to and measured against higher level organisational objectives?
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you would know about the food tampering crisis that recently engulfed the Queensland strawberry industry (in particular) and seen other industries affected as well. This has been, and is still, a crisis situation until it is resolved, and the perpetrator/s are discovered.
Many evaluations I’ve worked on have either been focused around or include a desktop review. This could be of existing documents and/or trawling the web for other sources for information.
Trying to find relevant information is not always easy and can be very overwhelming, particularly when you have a big pile of documents to go through! It’s easy to fall into the trap of including too much information (just in case) into the report which then ends up huge and essentially just repeating what is already out there. This isn’t a very useful or analytical approach.
So I thought I’d share a few strategies which I have found helpful when having to trawl through a lot of information.
I was recently on holidays in Majorca (easy to do when living in London – not so easy from Australia!) where we stayed overlooking a lovely Mediterranean beach called Cala Esmerelda.
Now this is where I say something along the lines of while I was on holiday I was thinking about evaluation and had a ‘light bulb moment’ – except that didn’t happen at all! I was thinking about when I was going to have my next icecream, when the next swim was and did I want red or white wine with dinner.
As well as using social media to engage and build relationships with your audiences – it can be very useful as a listening post. While it might be interesting for project/program managers to understand what is being said online about relevant topics, this is probably more important for larger organisations and bodies who should be on top of what is being talked about online. Particularly those interested and impacted on by sensitive subjects.