The following seven steps can serve as a guide in the creation of an IP outreach strategy.
Before starting to conduct research, make decisions or plan new activities, it is useful to analyze what the organization has already attempted and achieved in terms of IP outreach.
What outreach efforts (activities, campaigns, communication products) have been carried out so far?
What audiences have been targeted by these efforts?
What has worked?
What has not worked?
What partnerships have been created for these efforts?
Taking into account the lessons learned in the past (above), when identifying the goals that the new outreach campaign should achieve, it is important to consider:
- What are the challenges that must be met with a new outreach campaign? Examples of such challenges include the need to: promote creative and inventive activities in a specific field or region; increase the use of the IP registration system; lack of awareness about the benefits of IP; increase respect for IP (piracy and counterfeiting); increase understanding as to how IP rights are/should be enforced
- How do these challenges relate to the broader goals of the organization and/or the national government? The answer to this question can help select the challenges that should receive priority attention and funding. These priority challenges, in turn, will help define the goals for the new outreach campaign.
In expressing the goals of an outreach campaign, it is important to think in terms of a specific behavior that the campaign will seek to modify. Note that while educating and changing attitudes may play a role in eventually changing the target audiences behavior, the education and changes are not final aims in themselves.
In other words, the main goal of an IP outreach campaign should not be simply to educate a target audience about what IP is, though this education may be an essential step that will eventually lead to the ultimate goal. IP outreach campaigns should aim to influence the behavior of a target audience so as to make them more likely to produce IP (create), use IP (register) and/or respect IP (avoid piracy/counterfeiting). A successful IP outreach campaign should lead to behavioral change such as increased innovation, increased IP registration, and/or decreased IP crime (counterfeiting/piracy).
Objectives can be expressed in terms of awareness raising / education in order to change the perceptions and attitudes of target audiences towards a particular issue. These changes in perceptions and attitudes open the way for the ultimate goal of changing behavior as described above.
Such objectives could be wide ranging, for example: (a) to educate young people about the invention process and promote a positive image of inventors; (b) to raise awareness about patents and change the perception that they are only of interest to large corporations; (c) to raise awareness about the penalties for illegal downloading and change the perception that this type of downloading does not hurt anyone.
Research is essential at each stage of the development of the communications program of any outreach campaign. In the planning and pre-testing stages, research helps to identify the target audience and choose the best messages and tools with which to reach this audience. At the monitoring stage, research provides valuable information that can help adapt the campaign to ensure that it is a success. Finally, at the evaluation stage, research results provide lessons and/or justifications for future campaigns.
Different audiences have different wants and needs, so have to be approached in different ways. Target audience segmentation (the division of the general audience into smaller groups with similar wants and needs) is crucial to making sure that the right message will be sent to the right audience. Segmentation facilitates the process of tailoring messages and communication tools according to the needs and wants of the target audience.
In choosing among possible alternative target audiences it helps to think about the behavior that will be promoted in the campaign and the people that are most directly involved in or affected by that behavior. It may also be helpful to consider wider government policies (for example a policy of assisting SMEs at different levels), or select the target audience based on its higher likelihood to respond positively to the behavior being proposed by the campaign.
Partners are important in the development of outreach strategies because they can help reduce costs and increase impact. Each partner can bring a unique and valuable contribution (monetary, technical expertise, access to audience, etc) to make the campaign more effective.
The initiatives listed in the Outreach in Practice database provide numerous examples of successful partnerships formed around IP outreach activities and campaigns. These initiatives illustrate the different types of organizations that have a demonstrated interest in participating in such activities. Among these organizations are: National IP offices, NGOs, multinational corporations, museums, foundations, academic institutions, associations, media, and more.
A communications program must be based on the above-mentioned goals and objectives, without forgetting the research and clear understanding of the targeted audience. Among the most important decisions to be made in a communications program is the choice of the correct message and medium to reach the target audience.