Keeping It off the Bookshelf—The Importance of Dissemination

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Effective dissemination requires a plan to get the right knowledge to the right people at the right time and to help them apply it in ways that may improve a program’s performance.

Your dissemination plan should answer these questions:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What medium will you use to disseminate findings—hardcopy print, electronic, presentations, briefings?
  • How, where, and when will findings be used?
  • Who is responsible for dissemination?
  • What resources are available to accomplish the work?
  • What are the follow-up activities after release?
  • How will follow-up activities be monitored?

Identify a person to lead the dissemination effort. This person makes certain that the dissemination plan is carried out. This person should have experience making information accessible and understandable to different audiences.

Recognize that most reports have a shelf-life and most findings have a “relevancy date.” Be knowledgeable about your context, and select optimal release times. For example, if there is a great deal of media coverage about a topic related to your work, such as helping families stay healthy, you may wish to be con­nected to an existing press release or press conference. By the same token, if there has been negative publicity that could be associated with your topic, you may wish to “plan around” this coverage.

Always consider timing and frequency of products. Dissemination works best when multiple products (e.g., a full report, a summary report, an evaluation brief) and channels (i.e., print, verbal, and Web) are used.

Make certain there is involvement beyond the dissemination of the report. Convene follow-up discussions and facilitation as needed to enhance use. You can take advantage of events that may help keep continued focus on your findings, such as social media, brown-bag lunches, meetings, conferences, or workshops.

Book shelves.

Learn the five steps you can take to increase the chances that your evaluation data will be used.