The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is the Australian Government’s specialist agricultural research-for-development agency.
It supports international research collaborations between Australia and its country partners across Asia, Africa and the Pacific region.
Currie is thrilled to work with an organisation that aims to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods by making agriculture more sustainable and productive.
Communicating the results of its research and its impact is key to the success of ACIAR.
To help build its regionally-based capacity in communications, ACIAR formed the In-Country Communication Officer Network (ICCON) in 2019. Five new communications officers joined ACIAR working in Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Fiji, Vietnam and the Philippines.
ACIAR approached Currie to help with the communication officers’ professional development. The task was to advance their communication skills and align them with the ACIAR brand and high-quality standards.
Currie’s work with the communications officers began with a one-day communications and engagement planning workshop. The five participants all ‘strongly agreed’ they learnt something from the workshop, with one saying it was ‘Highly participatory, with clear and simple tools introduced that will be extremely helpful in developing an engagement strategy.’
We then provided the communication officers with one-on-one feedback sessions, guidance, and editing support for their writing.
It was a joy for the Currie team to work with these young, dedicated people who were all eager to hone their writing skills. They generously shared insights about their lives and cultures, including norms about communications that have helped Currie with our work in different countries.
To focus on writing punchy news articles and media releases, we also ran a series of three virtual news-writing workshops. Working with the officers, we captured the lessons learnt and experiences shared during the workshops to co-create a writing style guide for news stories and blogs. The guide reflects the needs of the communication officers, addresses the challenges they experienced, and gives examples of how they have implemented learnings.
COVID-19 has disrupted the recruitment of communication officers in ACIAR’s other regional and country offices. To ensure the important work happening in these locations is also publicised, ACIAR engaged Currie to write news articles and social media posts for three offices: South Asia (covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), East and South-East Asia (covering Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar), and Indonesia.
Currie has worked closely with each regional/country manager and their teams, as well as both Australian-based and in-country project partners to develop these materials. A comprehensive handover document will capture Currie’s learnings and help the incoming communication officers hit the ground running when recruitment recommences.
The communication officers now regularly develop high quality, engaging articles, blogs and social media posts which appear on the ACIAR website, on the ACIAR blog and in Partners magazine. Examples include:
News written by the communication officers has been picked up by media, promoted by Australian ambassadors, and shared by government officials in ACIAR partner countries.