The Carpentries Communications Strategy Implementation Plan

Introduction

Purpose of this document

The purpose of this document is to outline a clear uptake and implementation plan for the communications strategy so The Carpentries project owners and community members can adopt it for use effectively.

Target audience for this document

This document was originally written for the core Carpentries team, and has now been made available to our community. It is designed as a resource to be referenced regularly, rather than as literature to be studied once and archived after.

Our unique value as The Carpentries is that we have evolved over the last twenty years as a community-led organisation, spanning multiple cultural and disciplinary contexts, and working towards a unified goal - that of equipping researchers and librarians with foundational computational and data science skills.

Propelled by a lean core team that exemplifies holacractic practices and oversees the activities of thousands of people around the world, it is important for us to take on an innovative and proactive approach in all communication at The Carpentries because:

  • our community is geographically distributed and rendezvouses primarily on the internet where most of our exchanges - deliberations, collaborations, strategising and empowering- happen.

  • our community is a mashup of many stand-alone communities - learners, instructors, trainers, council members, committee members, et al. and with so many moving parts, communicating helps us all to stay on course and focussed on our collective goal as a community-led organisation.

  • clarity, transparency and timeliness are essential in giving individual members a deep-seated sense of ownership and belonging, as well as in growing and sustaining The Carpentries.

Project-Centric Communications

For every project, a complete communications plan will be the sum total of four components:

Communications Briefing

The role of the Community Development team is to help align all of The Carpentries’ communications with our strategy, and empower our community by communicating effectively. To help The Carpentries’ Communications team review your project communications adequately, each project team will schedule an hour-long communications brainstorm session at the onset of their project to talk about Project particulars highlighted in orange. Highlighted in green are existing project details you will need to have before the Communications brainstorm meeting in order for us to collaboratively develop a wholesome communications plan.

https://github.com/carpentries/handbook/raw/master/img/comms-images/comms-plan-1.png https://github.com/carpentries/handbook/raw/master/img/comms-images/comms-plan-2.png

Audience Mapping

The audience of our communications activities is broadly comprised of researchers, scientists, librarians, and developers. However, given that transparency is a core tenet of The Carpentries, we have a broader audience comprised of partners, funders, and broader communities in academia, data science, and software that access and keep abreast with aspects of The Carpentries activities as and when we share them.

Using guides provided by Democrati.se, the Community Development team will work with different project teams to brainstorm on specific audiences our communications and outreach efforts should target for different projects. These audiences will then be added to our Carpentries audience mapping document which is currently a work in progress.

We recommend scheduling time to carry out this hour-long brainstorming exercise with our team at least once in your project lifecycle, and preferably in the early stages.

Outreach Plan

The Carpentries’ Asana Project Template currently holds an outreach plan checklist for every project to use. Ahead of any project-related announcement, remember to draft tweet-long messages to aid our Twitter and 1:1 outreach efforts, as well as long-form messages for TopicBox, Slack and our Newsletter.

We will also start attaching multimedia to key messages where possible, and welcome your suggestions on which ones would be best suited. Where none is provided, we will use tools like Adobe Spark to generate images or short videos for use. In some cases, we will employ use of The Carpentries badge and logo.

Evaluation

The Carpentries values a culture of assessment and data-driven decision making. As such, this communications plan will be consistently evaluated and revised.

Intent vs. Outcomes

Projects lead by our team will include intended outcomes (what does success look like?) and actual outcomes. We realise that sometimes intended outcomes will not match actual outcomes due to feedback from the community or discrepancies in data collected during a project. Each project should include an evaluation plan that expresses the intent of the project, project outcomes, and data to support outcomes. Projects should include clear, consistent messages.

Projected vs. Actual Metrics

Projects should include specific metrics for engagement and interactions. Though the overall success of the project may not be determined by the expected vs. actual metrics, it is important to include goals for metrics when evaluating projects. Sample metrics include, but are not limited to:

  • Social Media Impressions (Likes, Follows, Shares, Retweets)

  • Number of New Sign-Ups for Community Discussions

  • Number of Pull Requests and/or Issues on GitHub

  • Number of Attendees at Community Discussions

  • Number of Repository Forks

  • Growth in Number of Workshops

  • Number of Comments on Blog Posts

Feedback

The strategy around our messaging and communications will be reviewed consistently, and customised based on our target audiences. As this strategy is a dynamic document, it will be revised quarterly based on feedback from the Carpentries team and community.

Based on responses, questions, and engagement statistics on various platforms, we will particularly pay attention to the outcome of our messaging, i.e.

  • did we communicate impartially, with clarity, in a timely manner?

  • was our language inclusive, and our tone inviting?

  • did we cover all time zones adequately?

  • did our communication efforts break through our community silos?

    • Did we encounter new contributions and interactions?

    • What new things did we try (video? podcast?)? Did it result in new memberships, training sign-ups? etc.

Organisation-Wide Communications

The Carpentries Community Development team sees engagement with other relevant communities on the web and in shared physical spaces as an important avenue for amplification of the work and initiatives of The Carpentries team and community. To ensure we are adequately represented in these offline and online spaces, the Community Development team is continually considering the following

Website Search Engine Optimisation

To improve traffic to The Carpentries websites, a number of developer tools can be used to test the current optimisation levels of the websites. The following services provide recommendations regarding what can be improved:

In addition, Google provides guidance to developers to enhance their web presence (including advice on structured data) and a keyword planner to assist with keyword generation:

The services above also address accessibility, but WAVE is also a tool that can be used for testing accessibility of the websites:

http://wave.webaim.org/

All Carpentries websites will be tested using these tools to compile website reports with action items to improve and fix them. The Infrastructure/Technology team will be consulted to develop a comprehensive plan to address the items listed in the reports.

Conferences and Events

Going forward, we would like to proactively promote Carpentries’ existing resources and initiatives by tapping into events, key calendar days and opportunities afforded to us by others in relevant spaces. We will do this by:

  • Keeping a rolling calendar of relevant events and conferences that our team should consider submitting session proposals to. The entire team is invited to add events to the calendar, keeping in mind that:

    • The Carpentries is a non-profit organisation and as such, we aim to keep our overhead costs at a minimum as much as possible. Conferences and events that offer to cover travel and associated costs for speakers and attendees are a big plus for The Carpentries.

    • The Carpentries is a strong advocate for fair and inclusive community practices and as such, we will endeavour to be a part of conferences and events that have meaningful Codes of Conduct, and that steer away from tokenising underrepresented groups for clout i.e. by promoting manels and sneaking in one woman as a speaker, for example.

    • We are also keen on /looking for opportunities for non-profit organisations to have ‘booths’ at meetings to share information about The Carpentries and for these booths to serve as a meetup space for our community at these events.

  • Observing dates-of-note relevant to The Carpentries activities and community such as the International Open Data Day, International Science Day, AdaLoveLace day, International day of Women in STEM, 100daysofCode, FOSS February, Hacktober, etc., and aligning our communications efforts with the goals of those specific dates.

  • When Carpentries members are participating in organising, speaking at or attending meetings, we will promote their involvement, as ways for them to connect with other communities present at the meeting, and demonstrate participation and engagement in the ecosystem.

Cross-Community collaborations

The Carpentries has good working relationships with a number of organisations. We will continue to foster these relationships and others, but with the goal of developing The Carpentries’ brand as a critical open research service that is a critical part of the evolving research lifecycle. We will explore creating graphics that show/promote The Carpentries services in an ecosystem of services/tools. The goal is that The Carpentries is seen via presentations and other materials similar to this example. We will seek opportunities to strategically share this graphic with the aim of others sharing it and potential partners coming across it in open research/scholarly meetings.

Amplification of Carpentries Community Initiatives

The Carpentries Community Development team is also keen on crafting our platform to create room to amplify the work of Carpentries community members and empower them to present and advocate for The Carpentries, i.e.

  • when opportunities arise to represent and advocate for The Carpentries, if better suited for community members more than the core team, we will share these in timely fashion on Discuss and Slack to see if specific members are interested in taking part. As a rule of thumb,

  • by asking The Carpentries community in different ways, we hope to understand what resources community members need from The Carpentries, to be prepared. Developing these resources will be the responsibility of the Community Development team which will liaise with community members to create and add them to our community Handbook, and The Carpentries presentations repository.

  • we will develop a mechanism to enable Carpentries community members and friends of The Carpentries (like ROpenSci, SciPy, Jupyter community members) to submit their announcements, stories, etc. i.e.

    • possibly adapt Library Carpentry’s version of the blog post request form and create a dynamic Google Form that changes based on what the submitter would like to do, i.e. blog post about their community building, announcement on the Discuss list, tweets about a recent event, etc.

    • link to this form regularly in our communications on different platforms, as well as in our community Handbook, etc.

Communications Roles and Responsibilities

Communication is a shared responsibility. As our larger Carpentries community continues to grow, sub-communities and local communities are continuing to develop. It is imperative that our communications plan include not only what we will communicate, but how we will communicate, and who is responsible for communicating project/program goals and outcomes.

Who is responsible for communicating projects/programs/goals to the community?

Each Carpentries team member either leads or is a member of a project. Team members also serve as liaisons to various sub-committees, sub-communities, and task forces. As such, it is the responsibility of team leaders to either communicate the project/program goals, or to designate a team member as the ‘communications lead’ for that project/program.

What should our Executive Council be communicating and when?

Formal statements regarding The Carpentries’ policies and finances will only be released by the’ Executive Director or Executive Council Chair. The Executive Council is also responsible for communicating transparency reports and will also communicate on all other subjects as mandated by their role in their period of tenure. The Secretary of the Executive Council, Mesfin Diro Chaka for 2019, also regularly publishes meeting minutes. Succinct updates from the Executive Council will continually be added to Carpentry Clippings fortnightly, as appropriate.

What should our Executive Director be communicating and when?

Open Letters The Executive Director is responsible for communicating the strategic direction and vision of the organisation, and periodically, writing open letters to the community to inspire, challenge and engage with the community. These open letters will continue to be published in The Carpentries Conversations repository on GitHub.

[idea] The communication team’s vision for this initiative is that it evolves into a Letters from The Carpentries Team series, where we can all share tidbits from our respective desks i.e. on community building, communications, developing curricula, setting up community infrastructure, workshops administration, et al.

Once we’ve published at least five letters, we can set up a dedicated page on our website for these letters. Given that they are in a standalone repository, we suggest setting up a conversations.carpentries.org subdomain when the time comes.

Matters arising

The Executive Director also communicates as needed to address issues of concern, articulate The Carpentries official stand on pertinent trends, challenges and opportunities, and lends her voice and platform to initiatives and occurrences in ecosystems that interface with ours at The Carpentries.

Succinct updates from the Executive Director can also be appended to the Updates from Leadership section of Carpentry Clippings fortnightly, as appropriate.