Communication in the Asia-Pacific forestry sector: new challenges, new opportunities


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Frances Seymour, Director General of CIFOR, gave this presentation about communications in the forestry sector at Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2011 in Beijing, China, during November 2011. A video of the Director General talking to her presentation can be found on CIFOR’s Youtube channel:

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  • You need to think ahead and be in the rhythm of the news. For example, we are currently doing a series of interviews with UNFCCC delegates around the world on the critical issues to be settled at COP 17, including an interview with the Chief of Forestry Negotiations. We also have a principal scientist responsible for following the talks, whom we make available for interviews. When the Letter of Intent was signed between Indonesia and Norway, we sent out a news advisory on the importance and challenges ahead, which was taken up by Reuters, New York Times and others. This is called second day news and is usually based on opinion or analysis (which we provided). Press releases need to be written like wire reports, sharper, shorter and more focused.
  • Here are some options on food security
  • It has often been said that good news is bad news because it doesn’t sell newspapers. On the other hand, it is true that readers will turn off if they do not see hope or a possible solution for the problem you are highlighting. Readers also like to know if there is an action they can take, in our case a policy maker, or a UNFCCC delegate. But readers are fascinated with disasters. If you try to hide the truth you will lose credibility over time.
  • With the advent of Google, news travel budgets and teams of correspondents have declined -- TIME and New York Times for example have both cut way back on the number of correspondents posted overseas. International print coverage of environmental news plummeted by 30% in 2010; whereas coverage of COP fell even more. [1] [1] Daily Climate
  • This model provides little direct contact with stakeholders
  • On the new model diagram The new model reflects the viral nature of information flow today and provides loops allowing organisations to have real-time dialogues with their stakeholders. A widely cited figure suggests that 50% of the public in some countries receive their information and news from social media. However, traditional media is still very important as research shows the traditional media drives policy change – heads of state and policymakers still rely on traditional media, e.g. President Yudhoyono reads Kompas every day.
  • Greater goal and objective is to increase publication readership and publication downloads. Know your stakeholders (think five, not 100,000) Think of your audiences as individuals through each level Visualise a stakeholder in each ring of the process/diagram Share your platforms and content with partners Don’t limit yourselves to just your own organisation’s content. Take and disseminate news feeds, other readings/publications etc. (on our Forests and Climate Change site we run “weekly readings” of other organisations chosen by our scientists)
  • With support from these donors, we used our Forest and Climate Change website as our original prototype for the new CIFOR site. We now have more than 10 sub or project sites, with common look and feel and branding all linking and driving traffic to the main site and each other.
  • Rather than try to build websites in different languages we are experimenting in developing local language sites. In partnership with Ministry of Forestry – CIFOR built the site and is training and working with Ministry of Forestry to manage the new REDD site and its content, where all of our Bahasa Indonesia publications are available.
  • Social media is key for leveraging content, news and marketing publications and important information to key audiences quickly. Social media gives power to the audience – allows them to digest the content in the form they want (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Youtube etc.). We reach the regions using different language social media pages. eg. CIFOR_Africa (French, CIFOR_ Latina America_ Spanish). Facebook and Twitter drive traffic to the websites and increase downloads of publications. This where we converse with our stakeholders, without jeopardising the reputation of the organisation – though we do monitor comments. Facebook followers increased from 300 last year to 2,136 today.
  • If your organisation is not blogging you should start. The blog is our central content producer. All content is then leveraged and repackaged to go across the other platforms and websites. We believe the CIFOR blog could potentially overtake the website one day, but it does not compete. Key fact: AOL bought Huffington Post, basically a blog, for $315 million. Newsweek sold for $1 with $50 million in debt.
  • And this why you should blog. We have reversed the decline in citations in 2010 and 2011. Another example is a POLEX that was disseminated in August reviewing a CIFOR publication on Protected Areas and conservation by Manuel Guariguata. After the blog appeared downloads increased from 5 in July to 1,387 in August.
  • CIFOR is now an official Google News Provider. A Google News search for “Forests and Adaptation” provided CIFOR content for 3 of the top 5 stories.
  • CIFOR’s head of media and outreach spent two weeks in Brazil in April 2011 with a photographer. Their package of 10 stories, five interviews, 90 photos and one documentary-style video was published on CIFOR’s blog in English, Spanish and Portuguese. It was then picked up and republished by multiple media around the world, including Huffington Post, Reuters AlertNet and many national top-tier outlets. It continues to draw significant traffic to the CIFOR website and most importantly our research publications from Brazil. This cost of this trip was less than $10,000 (not counting staff time). We are planning similar packages from the Congo Basin and Indonesia in the first quarter of 2012.
  • Forests Indonesia - conference content (stories, photos, video) packaged and disseminated within one week 122 news articles 10 blog stories within 5 days. Over 3000 people viewed the blogs for the conference 18 videos with key speakers Forests Indonesia website visits – 8450 between June-Oct 4000 visits to conference material through REDD-I website Goal for Forest Day 5 is to put out a package within 48 hours. At Forest Day 4: over 400 news articles blogging in six languages videos
  • It is all about the web. For CIFOR’s main website homepage, we monitor 11 indicators to see where readers come from, what they read, how long they spend, what they download. The number of page views of any website is a critical indicator of how interesting readers find your site, the more pages they read the more they like, the longer they stay, and the more often they return. The site had 148,000 visits in October 2011. We forecast a 33% increase in web visits to the main site this year. Our website, for which we studied the world’s 50 most powerful, has something for every stakeholder.
  • We now distribute summaries of publications – linked to the full publications online. Less money spent on printing/shipping Annual report – 8 pages. Saves $40,000 p/a
  • The importance of mailing lists cannot be forgotten. Think like the private sector, each stakeholder is a client. Maintenance is an important issue – keeping lists clean and up to date. CIFOR’s had more 22,000 in 2008. After we cleaned it the number fell to 8000 and we have now built it back up with targeted and interested audience of 23,000 and growing. We have targeted 30,000 by the end of this year; 50,000 by end of next year. Each month we send out a news update with blogs, publications, events and job ads, all taken from the net, and within 24 hours have 4000-5000 hits on the web – we typically have a click through of 25 percent verses the average of 12-15 percent. We use other mailing lists like Climate L and Forests L to further increase the reach of our mail-outs
  • We don’t try to control the press. Media have direct access to a list of scientists in different regions with different languages. We never ask journalists to quote CIFOR if they do not want to – we believe the more coverage of forests the better it is for us. Still this approach had sparked a dramatic spike in media hits.
  • Media organisations no longer have the budgets or resources: Journalists cannot travel as much Salaries are less – therefore younger, less-experienced journalists If we don’t step in and train the media on complex issues we see lower quality reporting on our issues. After one journalist training we organised on our mangroves research in Bali in April 2011, 33 articles were published on the topic in the Indonesian media.
  • You can target stakeholders now like never before. With the drop in costs of content production (video camera once costed $50,000, now $4,000) digital editing can now done on a MAC laptop. We have the power to tell our own story directly to our audience in the form they want to receive it. We don’t have to rely completely on the traditional media – we can create our own news/content.
  • Communication in the Asia-Pacific forestry sector: new challenges, new opportunities

    1. 1. <ul><li>Communication in the Asia-Pacific forestry sector: New challenges, New opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>Presentation outline </li></ul><ul><li>The Message </li></ul><ul><li>The Media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A new model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CIFOR’s experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Implications for organisations </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>The Message: Challenges and opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Sense that we need to improve forest-related communications: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To increase awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To update outdated perceptions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Particular challenges of forest-related communications: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing remoteness from daily experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dynamism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunities to link forests to key societal objectives in new fora </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>X = </li></ul><ul><li>Food security , by providing hydrological and pollination services </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty reduction , by providing diverse income sources </li></ul><ul><li>Mitigation of climate change , by storing carbon in vegetation and soils </li></ul><ul><li>Resilience to climate change , by stabilising hillsides and coastlines from storm events and resistance to land fires </li></ul>New messages: “ If you want X, conserve forests ”
    5. 5. New messaging: Surf the wave <ul><li>Don’t try to create the wave; surf it </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate the news to plan your messages </li></ul><ul><li>Fast response when news breaks – “Second day news” </li></ul>
    6. 6. Example: Forests and food security <ul><li>Old approach: </li></ul><ul><li>Narrow focus on forests’ direct contribution to nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Framing issues around environmental objectives – e.g. bushmeat threat to endangered species </li></ul><ul><li>Messaging timed for forest-related events </li></ul><ul><li>New approach: </li></ul><ul><li>Include cash income to buy food and ecosystem services to agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Framing issues around food security objectives – e.g. bushmeat as potentially sustainable protein source </li></ul><ul><li>Messaging timed for agriculture-related events </li></ul>
    7. 7. The message: “Love vs loss” dilemma <ul><li>Good to give audiences hope for change </li></ul><ul><li>But don’t try to hide the bad news </li></ul><ul><li>Credibility with the audience lies in striking the right balance </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>Decline in reading of traditional publications </li></ul><ul><li>Decline of traditional news coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Globalisation of internet access and rise of social media </li></ul><ul><li>Decline in costs of production </li></ul><ul><li>… leads to </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to “be your own CNN” </li></ul>The Media: Challenges and opportunities
    9. 9. <ul><li>Uni-directional </li></ul><ul><li>Passive </li></ul><ul><li>Long lag time to impact </li></ul>Traditional communication model: a pebble in a pond
    10. 10. New knowledge sharing model: a hurricane <ul><li>Interactive – draws energy from stakeholders </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>Web-based </li></ul><ul><li>Combines with traditional outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Demand driven </li></ul><ul><li>Tailored to stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Shared platforms and content with partners </li></ul><ul><li>Constant monitoring, review, adaptation </li></ul>Fundamentals of the model CIFOR Research
    12. 12. Online: Visits – trend line
    13. 13. Online: REDD+ Website in Bahasa Indonesia
    14. 14. Online: Facebook and Twitter
    15. 15. Online: Blogs Page views
    16. 16. <ul><li>“ Publishing is good. Being read is better” (Bruno Locatelli, CIFOR Scientist) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A paper published in the journal Forests (18 Mar 11) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A blog article about this paper on CIFOR website (16 Aug 11) </li></ul></ul>Before the blog: 3 per day Since then: 7 per day During 3 days after the blog: 35 per day The power of the blog Downloads
    17. 17. Online: Google News   
    18. 18. Online: Outreach packages
    19. 19. Online: Events <ul><li>Blogging </li></ul><ul><li>Streaming media </li></ul><ul><li>Speaker videos on YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>Generates web traffic and news stories </li></ul>
    20. 20. Combined effect: Page views Quarter Launch of new CIFOR website Social Media New Blog
    21. 21. Traditional: Publications <ul><li>80,000 - 90,000 publications handed or mailed out in a typical year verses 78,000 PDF downloads in September, 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Drives increase in citations without shipping costs </li></ul>
    22. 22. Traditional: Mailing lists <ul><li>24,000 recipients </li></ul><ul><li>subdivided by: </li></ul><ul><li>Language </li></ul><ul><li>Interest </li></ul><ul><li>Sector </li></ul>
    23. 23. Traditional: Media <ul><li>Journalist database increased from less than 350 to 1,200 </li></ul><ul><li>Increased media advisories and releases, from six to a projected 35 in 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Assistance provided to media on the ground around the world in our research areas </li></ul>
    24. 24. Traditional: Journalist training <ul><li>Training workshops in Bali and Kalimantan </li></ul><ul><li>19 journalists funded to attend Forests Indonesia Conference </li></ul><ul><li>More than 70 media articles resulting </li></ul>
    25. 25. Outcome: CIFOR in the news News hits per month trend line
    26. 26. <ul><li>Initial investment in retooling infrastructure and staff skills </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous budgeting for communications, not just new activities, but also maintenance of websites and mailing lists </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous investment in M&E and impact assessment of communications effort </li></ul>Implications for organisations (1)
    27. 27. <ul><li>Change staff incentives to participate in communications efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Take risk of disintermediation between staff and audiences </li></ul><ul><li>Increase permeability of boundaries with other organisations’ content </li></ul>Implications for organisations (2)
    28. 28. <ul><li>Join us at </li></ul>