Short course: Writing to achieve policy impact

Organised by On Think Tanks
Event type Courses
Location Online
Start date 27 June 2017
End date 25 July 2017

Publications are one of the most important products produced by think tanks. While communication techniques are evolving and many organisations now use a mix of social media, data visualisation, podcasts and events to help expose their research, it is often the existence of a solid and well-written research report that makes this possible.

Though publications come in different shapes and sizes (reports, background papers, policy briefs, blogs), there are a basic set of good practices that every researcher and communications professional should consider when developing written outputs.

This short course offers the opportunity to learn about these by looking specifically at how to develop policy briefs and blogs.

Specifically, the module aims to help participants:

  • Gain an understanding of the different types of publications being produced by think tanks;
  • Tell a better story about their research in order to get the attention of readers;
  • Develop the ability to write in plain English in order to communicate arguments and key messages as clearly as possible;
  • Understand how to use design tricks to highlight key elements of their publication; and
  • Draft and design a publication (either policy brief or a blog).

Who is this for?

This module is for researchers who have a responsibility for developing communication outputs. It is also for communications staff who are interested in learning about how to more effectively support researchers produce publications that have policy impact.

There are limited spaces and participating will be expected to actively engage in the process (before, during and after the webinars). They should have a policy brief or blog in mind so that the training is as relevant as possible and results in a concrete outputs.


This short course consists of the following:

  • A background note, which sets the tone for the training and includes links to a range of useful resources to be used when developing publications;
  • An online forum to share comments, experiences and pose questions t0 he trainer and other participants;
  • Three webinars facilitated by Carolina Kern; and
  • Personalized feedback on a practical exercise to help apply the lessons learned to your organization.

What will we cover?

The outline of the short course will cover:

Background note on publications for think tanks: an introduction

  • Introduction to publications: What are they, why are they important, and how do people and users experience them?
  • The importance of developing a dissemination plan for your publication

Discussion forum: the dos and don’ts of publications

  • Publication design: Best practices and common mistakes
  • What’s wrong with this publication?

First webinar: How to tell a good story and call people to action

  • Top tips for writing clearly.
  • How to structure your ideas and make them stick.
  • How to write a set of recommendations.
  • Tools to help your organisation write in the same voice: publication policies and style guidelines.

Second webinar: How to develop a policy brief

  • Policy brief overview: what are they? Who are they for?
  • How to write and design one.
  • Why do I need a dissemination plan or communications strategy?

Third webinar: How to develop a blog

  • Blogs: what are they? Who are they for?
  • How to write a blog post.
  • Where to post your blog, and why your own website might not be the right place.
  • Advice on how to manage comments for maximum impact.

Personal task: Produce a blog or an outline of a policy brief

Key dates

Kick-off: June 27th, 2017

Webinar 1: July 4th, 2017

Webinar 2: July 11th, 2017

Webinar 3: July 18th, 2017

Delivery of exercise: July 25th,2017

The time of the webinars is 3 PM GMT

 Webinars last 60 minutes


CK picCarolina Kern: Carolina has over 10 years of experience working for development and humanitarian organisations, helping them to design, manage and raise the profile of projects and programmes. She has excellent skills in programme management, research and communications, and has worked for bilateral donors, the UN and think tanks across health, governance, humanitarian and food security portfolios.

Carolina collaborated in the development of a research communications workshop while at the Overseas Development Institute where she worked as the Communications and Network Manager for the Humanitarian Policy Group. She is now based in Kenya working as a Strategic Communications Consultant for a range of clients including UNAIDS, WFP and Nairobi City County. This is her second year running the ‘Think Tank Publications’ course.

She has previously worked for as a Communications Adviser within the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General in South Sudan and as a Senior Programme Manager for the Australian Department for International Development.


The short course costs GBP 125.00. You may also join by signing up to the entire series of 7 Short Courses at GBP 700.00 for the series.

Early bird registration fee for the course is GBP 105.00 (only for first five registrations) and for the entire series is GBP 600.00 (only for first five registrations)

Checkout other Courses in the Evolving Think Tanks Series 2017.

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