The aim of communicating and promoting the exercise is to raise awareness about its objectives and create a wider circle that reaches beyond the participants. It usually targets policy-making/government actors, civil society and the general public. It is an ongoing process throughout the Foresight exercise.
A Foresight exercise is by definition participatory. To obtain broad participation, it is essential to promote the exercise, raise awareness and build support.
Throughout the process, it is necessary to continue and enrich the dialogue with the clients/sponsors, stakeholders and, when appropriate, the public at large. Communication includes:
- Interacting with sponsors and stakeholders when important decisions have to be taken and keeping them regularly informed (formally and informally) of progress (see Managing relationships);
- Dissemination of preliminary and final results;
- Collecting and taking into account feedback on the process and on the outcomes; from the stakeholders and contributors to the exercise;
- Networking with other exercises.
In addition, various tools can be used to promote the exercise more widely:
- Publications and traditional communication tools (databases, newsletters, etc.),
- Forums and participative events (hearings, seminars, conferences, workshops, meetings, etc.),
- Illustration of Foresight success stories in other contexts.
Why is it important to promote the exercise?
Ensure wider uptake of results
In most cases promotion beyond the inner circle of participants is important to ensure you obtain the maximum benefit from the exercise. Only if there is a general awareness of the exercise will a wide range of people take up the results to support their own decisions or buy into the visions that it produced. This is especially true for government agencies that are not directly participating in the process. If they are not kept actively informed is is unlikely that they will give their backing to the results later on.
Helping the process
Recruiting participants for your various activities will be much easier if there is a general awareness of the exercise and positive view of it. Obtaining additional funding or other support such as venues for meetings, etc. will also be much easier to achieve if the exercise has a well established good reputation.
Active promotion will help to avoid problems during the process resulting from misconceptions and misunderstanding such as expectations about the ability of your exercise to "predict" future developments. Also, accusations such as failure to engage a relevant stakeholder group or partiality of the approach to one interest group can be avoided by keeping the exercise as transparent as possible to the general public throughout. For this purpose it is crucial during promotion to clearly communicate the objectives and expected outcomes and the reasons for the approach you have taken. Just as when communicating with your targeted stakeholder groups, following your communication strategy, you might have to think about targeted promotion to specific groups outside the exercise.
One of the main features of any Foresight activity is the participatory dimension. The various participants/stakeholders should be consulted frequently throughout the course of the exercise, and the exercise should be designed so as to offer many 'natural' opportunities for doing so.
Promoting the exercise
To promote the exercise it is useful to have a continuously updated public website. It is also a good idea to have a well designed brochure describing the main features of the exercise such as the objectives, approach, expected outcomes, etc. early on. The brochure could, for instance, be based on the scoping document that is produced during the design phase.
Various tools can also be used to promote the exercise such as:
- publications and traditional communication tools (database, flyer, newsletters, etc.)
- forums and participatory events (hearings, seminars, conferences, workshops, meetings, etc.)
There is more information on promoting the exercise in some of the example cases:
- Vision 2023: Turkish National Technology Foresight Exercise
- Eforesee Malta - Exchange of Foresight Relevant Experiences among Small Enlargement Economies
- Managing relationships
- Tailoring communication to diverse target groups
- When is the right time to communicate?
- Who is involved in the communication process?
- Relating outputs to potential users
- Diffusion and dissemination of results
- Designing the communication strategy