Academia is under unprecedented pressure to feed research into the policy domain. There are several reasons for this. Contributions to policy are likely to score heavily in any assessment of societal and economic impact, while budget cuts have reduced the number of government academics. By way of further complication, many civil servants lack the time – and perhaps even the expertise – to digest unsolicited research in its original form.
The Institute of International Affairs, a Dublin-based think-tank, faced all of these challenges when it set about publicising its “greenprint” for comprehensive energy improvements to 1.2m of Ireland’s older homes. The document suggested a government investment of €14.5bn would create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector, address the issues of energy security and climate change and create warmer, greener properties.
Bulletin’s task was to secure maximum exposure for the research and ensure that its arguments and recommendations were presented to target audiences as succinctly and as compellingly as possible.
“Bulletin’s contribution went beyond helping us achieve coverage for our work in the national press and helped to maximise impact with policymakers.”
Joseph Curtin, Senior Researcher, Institute of International and European Affairs.
The full report, which ran to 83 pages, was condensed into a four-page policy briefing containing key information for policymakers and Irish MPs. This was circulated to every politician in the Irish parliament, including the prime minister and cabinet members.
On the same day a press briefing was released and a member of the team that produced it sent to Dublin to support IIEA in dealing with the media.
The report earned coverage in every major national newspaper in Ireland, and the author was interviewed on radio and television. Amid this intense media interest, the policy briefing gained a high profile in parliament, prompting impressive take-up of the full report. The Irish Labour Party, which went on to form part of the coalition government, ultimately used the “greenprint” as a basis for much of its policy paper on energy.