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Communications Team Gains Ground with Training

Guttmacher Institute

Rebecca Wind, senior communications associate at the Guttmacher Institute, attended communications training in 2006, and a year later, her co-worker, a fellow communications professional, attended the same course.

Participation in training, said Wind, has “certainly helped me make a stronger case [for communications] as integral to the work of the Institute.”

An organization intent on advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through social science research, public education and policy analysis, Guttmacher is challenged to “bridge the gap between research and policy, and to put that work in the context of its real-world implications,” said Wind. “It’s difficult for researchers to step out of research mode to speak broadly about their area of expertise.” After training, the Institute launched a new communications effort that, among other activities, channels the Institute’s research and policy expertise into a rapid response to address inaccuracies reported in the media.

Wind said having two out of the organization’s seven communications staff members attend training has helped build a more influential department. “In the last few years, communications staff have been more successful at getting a place at the table. For example, during survey development, we can help ensure that a survey will include questions designed to address the types of inquiries we frequently get from the media or policymakers.”

The communications team used the Smart Chart communications planning tool to demonstrate a strategic approach to communications to the Institute’s management team. “It’s not about jumping straight to tactics,” said Wind. “It was useful in shifting their thinking.”

Guttmacher is pleased with its increasing brand recognition and reputation for providing reliable information to the media and other key audiences. “After training,” said Wind, “we were motivated to make our information more accessible online.” The organization has since launched two major web tools—a robust media center and a data center that allows researchers and others to find, format and download reproductive health data on demand. Both are “accessible and easy to use for anyone looking for the latest information.”

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