How are you going to get your message to your users? TV, radio (don’t we wish!)? Online resource pages? Emails? Enewsletters or printed newsletters?
By “media,” we mean the vehicles, ways, or mechanisms we use to send info to, or communicate with, our users. We also mean the format to be used (PDF files, audio, Braille, to name a few).
Questions To Ask Yourself
at the Start
We turn again to NCDDR’s excellent materials on dissemination for this list of questions. The questions are meant to help disseminators plan the media they’ll use to reach and share with their users. These are adapted from NCDDR’s Dissemination Self-Inventory and its Developing an Effective Dissemination Plan.
Is your information to be delivered through existing networks, communication channels, associations/organizations, meetings/conferences, and other venues?
How does each dissemination format and mode you use or plan to use reach your target audience(s)?
Do you match each dissemination medium to the expressed needs and preferences of specific user groups?
Are you providing info to users through channels (visual, auditory, etc.) they are known to prefer?
Is your info delivered directly to intended users?
Is your info available in full-text format on the Internet?
Has your staff conducted a needs assessment to determine users’ general accessibility requirements?
Do you provide your info in alternate formats that are accessible to all members of the intended user group(s)?
A lot of aspects to look at, eh? And these aren’t even the BIG question NCDDR poses as part of the Dissemination Self-Inventory. That question is one of the most useful for considering the many ways in which we can disseminate information.
The BIG Question
Here it comes…get ready, it’s a long one because of all the options listed.
Check each of the following dissemination media or formats you have included in your dissemination plan. (maximum points = 50)
- Monograph (1 point)
- Chapter in book (1 point)
- Journal article (1 point)
- Paper presentation (1 point)
- Conference presentation or panel discussion (1 point)
- Press release (1 point)
- Organizational newsletter (1 point)
- Newsletters of groups to which target audiences belong (1 point)
- Newspaper article or interview (1 point)
- Magazine article or interview (1 point)
- Brochure (1 point)
- Large print format (1 point)
- Audiotape (1 point)
- Video (1 point)
- Video with captioning (1 point)
- Descriptive video (1 point)
- Braille (1 point)
- Radio public service announcements (1 point)
- TV public service announcements (1 point)
- Radio or TV interviews (1 point)
- Description on organizational website (1 point)
- Dedicated website (2 points)
- Links to and from other relevant websites (1 point)
- Listserv or online conference (1 point)
- Online newsletter (1 point)
- Computer disk or CD (1 point)
- CD-ROM (2 points)
- DVD-ROM (2 points)
- Software (2 points)
- Telephone hotline (2 points)
- Printed users manual or guide (1 point)
- Interactive training session (2 points)
If you marked at least 7 of the above, add 5 points.
If you marked 10 or more, add another 5 points.
Learning from that BIG Question
When you look at that long list of dissemination options, it seems daunting—-are we really supposed to be doing all of that?
The answer is yes…and no. It’s a list of possibilities, of options, from which we mix and match, depending on the needs and input of our users. Using multiple vehicles (i.e., media) will make our dissemination more widespread, but it will not necessarily achieve more utilization by users if we haven’t considered what best suits and reaches our audience(s) or carefully crafted our content.
Adding to the List of Options
NCDDR developed its list of options in 2001. Since then, we’ve seen an explosion in the use of social media to reach and engage users. The tools of social networking (Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds) offer disseminators a remarkably powerful and very popular new avenue to explore. In the same way, the rapid advance of technology has also given us many new tools.
Therefore, we would add to NCDDR’s list the following options for consideration:
- chatrooms, forums, or online discussions
- poll and survey mechanisms
- communities of practice
- Facebook presence
- Twitter presence
- RSS feeds to make it easy for others to pick up our news without lifting a finger
- web analytics
If you’re not sure what any of these involve, have a quick look at the discussion of Using Social Media under the Dissemination Research Base.
Keep Reading about Dissemination
- We’re All Disseminators: Why This Info is Relevant to You
- The Dissemination Research Base
- Start with Yourself: A Dissemination Self-Inventory
- Element 1 of Effective Dissemination: Involve Your Intended Users
- Element 2: Involve Dissemination Sources
- Element 3: Mindfully Craft Your Content
- Element 4: Disseminate Through Different Media (you’re here)
- Tipsheet: Writing Plainly
- Writing for the Web