Sola Oluwadare is the communications manager at African Heritage Foundation. I recently had a chance to speak with Sola to learn more about his experience with the TTI PEC project and his views on the changing communications landscape.
What were the highlights of your think tank’s activities over the past year as part of the PEC program?
AfriHeritage’s activities have been majorly focused on how to strengthen our research communications strategies using non-traditional media and that has paid off as a result of our hard work over the past year. TTI PEC has also enabled us to finalise the writing of our Communications Strategy which is now ready for official ratification.
It is also important to mention that TTIPEC’s use of mentors is commendable. For instance, the diagnostic survey carried out by the mentors has helped to expose ways through which we can improve even our internal operations. However, the time between the diagnostic survey and discussions was rather too long, which could be improved if this were to be improved.
Still on mentors, the review Sue Martin did on our website about the publications and some of our pages has also been helpful. For instance, we have been able to implement some changes in the pages and will still continue to do. Specifically, we have also seen the need for producing a “Branding Manual” to serve as a guide for our publications. Mo Adefeso-Olateju and Naomi Lucas’s advice on some of our operations is also a welcome development (though our change of mentors would have had serious implications if not that it was managed well). A light evaluation on the use of mentors by the think tanks would also perhaps help TTIPEC in future.
How are you using non-traditional media? Are there any highlights you would like to share?
Basically, our attention has been focused on using our Twitter handle, Facebook page and YouTube channels to tell our stories. All these tools were initiated and engaged to some extent this past year. We have also been encouraging our researchers to start writing blogs and they have been responding.
As I said earlier, finalising the Communication Strategy, and effective use of our Twitter and Facebook page are our major milestones. In terms of a highlight – just last week the Chairman of the Senate (MP) Committee on Works in Nigeria, Senator Ayogu Eze, initiated an interaction on our Facebook page!
Do you have any advice to other think tanks?
I have three pieces of advice.
First, I think, think tanks should work together- peer learning is the way to go. For instance, AfriHeritage and CSEA have during this period retweeted each other’s messages in order to extend our tentacles. We have had a number of email and phone call exchanges with CPED also on ways of improving our operational activities, and the Executive Directors of the three Nigerian think tanks have equally initiated mutual working relationships.
I must also state that it was TTIPEC that made it possible for me to link up some think tanks with Africa Portal (http://www.africaportal.org/) – an open access online repository of African research which improves international visibility, usage and impact of research conducted in Africa and on Africa. The operators of the Portal have promised to follow up the think tanks on this. This engagement did not occur before TTIPEC.