My first take on working with the reputed National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) was: here is a Think Tank that takes communication with the outside world very seriously. It sets very high standards on the quality of communication and is completely gung-ho on communication technology – and the biggest champion for this is the head of the institute himself! The first battle was thus won hands down! My challenge was to get a good plan of action on paper and to bring in the experts.
The two things that NCAER focused on were: getting its website right and opening up middle-level researchers to media communications. NCAER’s high commitment to interacting with the IDS web expert was interesting, given that the Think Tank already houses a highly professional web team from one of India’s top companies. Yet, all options were explored in order to plug any potential loophole.
The media workshop itself was an informal, interactive learning experience with a focus on hands-on practice rather than theoretical lectures. The attached presentation accompanied this ‘get your hands dirty’ process. Getting researchers to learn-by-doing changed the way they responded to the workshop itself. At the start, reservations about yet another workshop clearly showed on the researchers’ faces. My assessment (shared by an observer who sat through the first half of the workshop) was that the researchers were not really interested in being there because they felt they had left some other, very important, work to be here. This ‘body here, mind there’ experience was very obvious to see. However, within the first hour, there was a palpable change. All the participants pushed their pending work to the back of their minds and concentrated on getting their media bytes right – on paper, on the first day, and on TV, on the 2nd day.
Listening to the positive feedback during the last session was rewarding. But even better was to have changed attitudes – and this is just the start! We’d like to master this art! Amen!