Learning patterns/Sharing relevant information with the Wikimedia movement
What problem does this solve?
Wikimedia organizations and groups are part of a movement that is benefiting a lot from mutual experiences and shared learnings. We often deal with similar topics, challenges and target groups. But we can only practice our culture of sharing to the fullest when we know how to get the word out about our findings and products. Especially on an international level, given the size and diversity of our movement, it is hard to identify and address the relevant communication channels and stakeholders.
This learning pattern will illustrate our solution alongside our publication “Open Content - A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences” from 2014. Our aim was to distribute the publication to as many relevant Wikimedia stakeholders as possible.
What is the solution?
An important factor in reaching your project goals is to address the relevant stakeholders and multipliers for your product. Planning communication goals and structuring your activities is a big step towards widening your audience and thus raising awareness. In order to do so, these are some things you might want to keep in mind:
Things to consider
During project planning
When creating the project plan, you need to take into account that it will take time to create a good communication concept. Arrange enough time for the design and execution of the sharing process. Before you kick-off the project, consider the following questions:
- Who is your target group and how can you best reach them? What language is best suited to reach them?
- What is the level of participation and engagement that you need from this target group?
- Is there a publication or project that you can build upon?
- Are there experts in the movement that can provide valuable input while setting up the project?
- Are there potential partners from within or outside the movement that are already working on something similar you can team up with?
- Who can benefit from the findings and publication of your project? How can you take their needs and environment into consideration while designing the publication process?
You can find respective information in Wikimedia organizations’ reports and grant proposals, on different Meta pages and mailing lists, in blog posts and by visiting conferences, to name just a few. It is surely also valuable to have personal contacts to people that can help you identify potential partners, role models or contributors.
When the publication is ready to be published
When preparing the messages that you plan to send out with the publication, consider the following questions and suggestions:
Reflect on the benefits of your findings/publication: What can the movement learn from your project? How can other benefit from your findings/publication?
Engage with the target group: What message do you want to send? What do you expect from the target group? Whom do you contact? Who are potential multipliers for your message?
Define the level of engagement: What kind of engagement do you want? Are you just publishing information for publicity or is this publication a call for participation, feedback and dialogue? Are you creating a space for learning opportunities or are you just providing a unidirectional announcement?
Chose the publication’s formats: According to the type of publication, you have several options to combine or choose from: printed copies, PDF of the designed publication, wiki text including or excluding images and design, source files of the print publication.
Create a central hub: Create a central information hub, for example on Meta, where you collect all content, available formats, contacts, reviews, and links related to your publication. Make sure to keep it short and visually appealing. Include links to the Commons category, if applicable. Consistently use the link to this Meta page in all your communication and make sure to monitor and update it regularly. Create the talk page and encourage conversations. Track the success of your campaign by means of Wikimedia article traffic statistics.
Display the contact person: Make sure to make a contact person visible and easy to reach. Provide at least the name, e-mail address and an up-to-date user page.
Pick and make use of the right communication channels: Which communication channels are best suited to reach your goal? Do you prefer to spread the publication as broadly as possible, or is it aiming at a special interest group. Here is a selection of relevant channels. Please note that sometimes less is more. Don’t feel obliged to use all available channels but pick them wisely.
- Mailing lists: Wikimedia-l and Wikimedia Announce are the lists with the broadest reach. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of special interest lists or lists for different target groups (Overview of all lists).
- Blogs: Your own organization’s blog as well as the global movement blog (create a draft here) are very good options to share the information broadly.
- Social Media: Use your own organization’s twitter and facebook accounts and ask the WMF communications team to spread your information, too.
- Office hours, Hangouts: You can offer feedback or Q&A sessions via IRC office hours or video calls, depending on the type of engagement you want.
- Wikimedia and external events: Offline events are a good way to distribute your printed publication and to get in touch with your audience.
- ...and many many more.
Make sure to always link to your Meta page when spreading the publication and use a consistent wording and contact person. Also, react on questions and feedback in a timely manner.
Identify and use multipliers: Identify and get in direct contact with potentially interested people from within and outside of the movement. Encourage them to become ambassadors for your project and support you in sharing your information.
Track the dissemination and use of your publications: If your product is a printed publication, make sure to also track where this publication is being used and in which contexts. This will make it easier to later on assess if you were able to reach your designated target group.
Evaluate your pre-set goals: By gathering as much data as possible you will be able to evaluate which communication channels, activities and approaches were most successful in terms of the communication goals you set in advance.
When to use
This pattern has been used when Wikimedia Deutschland introduced the publication Open Content - A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences.