October 31, 2012

Scriptoria Blog

Hola from the Scriptoria team at GCARD2!

Scriptoria is in Punta del Este in Uruguay this week for the second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2). The team will be at booth B17 in the marketplace, promoting Scriptoria’s communications expertise in the field of agriculture.

Organised by the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) in partnership with the CGIAR, the conference will run from 29th October until 1st November. Over 600 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the various seminars, debates and sessions, including a field trip to visit local Uruguayan farmers.

GCARD aims to develop a new global agricultural research system – one which is driven by tangible development goals and brings together all those involved in agricultural research for development (AR4D).

The focus of GCARD2 is the GCARD RoadMap. This was drawn up at GCARD1 in 2010, and sets out a six-point plan for transforming agricultural research for development around the world. Delegates at this year’s conference will be looking at the progress made so far against this plan, and staking out the best path forward.

If you’re attending the conference, don’t forget to come and say hello to the Scriptoria team at booth B17!

To keep up to date on what’s happening at the conference, check out the live chat feature and read the latest opinions on the GCARD2 blog.

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March 14, 2012

Scriptoria Blog

Give us a wave if you’re at the 6th World Water Forum!

The Scriptoria team are in Marseille this week, taking part in the world’s largest water summit. The World Water Forum, held every three years, is a vast gathering of water experts and main-players from all over the globe – including many of our clients. We were delighted yesterday when the Executive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), Dr Ania Grobicki, made a personal visit to the Scriptoria booth to thank us for “working magic” on their publications!

With around 25,000 participants chipping in over 400 hours of debate and discussion, our ears are pricked to hear what exciting new ideas and solutions emerge around our most fundamental natural resource. But what good are ideas unless communicated successfully to the people that need to hear them? Our experts are being kept busy talking to conference-goers about how they can get their water messages across to the audiences that matter, and what Scriptoria can do to help.

If you’re at the Forum don’t forget to say hello – you’ll find us at booth 2.004 in the registration hall.

GWP's Head of Communications, Steven Downey, and Communications Officer, Helene Komlos Grill, paying a visit to the Scriptoria booth

GWP’s Head of Communications, Steven Downey, and Communications Officer, Helene Komlos Grill, paying a visit to the Scriptoria booth

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November 18, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Communicating Climate Change at COP17

Sierra Club activists following the example of world leaders at last year’s Cancun summit. Using humour cleverly like this is one way to communicate serious messages without “turning off” your target audience.

With the UN COP17 climate summit nearly upon us, the Scriptoria team wishes “Ube nohambo oluhle” (that’s ‘bon voyage’ in Zulu!) to all our Durban-bound clients. But we have to admit that, with world leaders expected to resurrect the same depressing stalemate as previous years, and the future of the Kyoto protocol hanging in the balance, we are feeling a little on edge.

Despite our anxiety about the negotiations themselves, however, we are at least confident that the exhibitions at the summit will remain – as always – a beehive of individuals and organisations that are buckling down to help prepare people and the planet for a warmer, more uncertain future. And, with so many bodies jostling to be heard, the summit spells high-tide for climate communications. There’ll be tweets, blogs and videos fired off in all directions, and a packed line-up of talks and seminars to get stuck into.

Mainstreaming climate messages in the media
One side event that’s really got us talking is the Climate Communications Day on the 1st of December. Journalists, academics, scientists, NGOs, and business leaders will be putting their heads together to consider what new approaches to communication could help the climate change message take flight.

Capturing more media coverage
Hosted by the Earth Journalism Network, the day-long programme looks packed with captivating speakers and talking points. You can read the line-up by clicking here. We’re particularly intrigued by the “Dragons Den” break-out session, where participants will be pitching their climate news stories to real-life media editors, and discovering what it really takes – in terms of human interest, sensationalism and ingenuity – to snare media coverage.

Training journalists
The Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) will also have all hands on deck again this year, and we think that their work will be well worth watching out for. The partnerships aims to boost the quality and quantity of climate change journalism across the developing world. As part of this, it runs a fellowship programme giving promising developing-country journalists all-important access to the climate summits. With the help of journalistic training, mentoring and daily briefings, fellows can overcome the hurdles that hamper climate change reporting in their home countries.

A common problem facing many developing-world environmental journalists, for instance, is lack of access to authoritative scientific and governmental opinion on climate change. Once at the summit, of course, they can barely move for the stuff! So, if you want to get the scoop on the climate talks from some fresh new perspectives, don’t miss the work of this year’s CCMP fellows at http://www.climatemediapartnership.org/

Taking it to the top
Naturally, it’s not just the attention of the wider world that conference-goers will be hoping to capture. Advocacy will be all around, as individuals and organisations push to influence the opinions of the decision makers right at the heart of the negotiations. From running exhibition booths to giving interviews and press conferences, competing participants will be given a thorough examination in their ability to communicate. Tuning into the online webcasts by the Oneclimate Network is a great way of keeping up to speed: http://oneworldgroup.org/oneclimate.

A little comic relief…
We can’t wait to see the more inventive measures that this year’s participants will take to get a point across – who can forget the 20 Sierra Club activists who, on the beach of Cancun last year, literally buried their heads in the sand? Another slightly silly, but ingenious example is the “Fossil of the day” awards ceremony, organised daily by the Climate Action Network (CAN). This awards tongue-in-cheek prizes to the country that has done the most to block progress in the international negotiations. The winner is voted for on each day by CAN’s 700+ member organisations. With a Jurassic Park-inspired theme tune and flag-waving dancers to herald it in, the ceremony never fails to draw a crowd! We think it’s a really inspired way of informing people about the debating progress, and of keeping the pressure on delegates. This video gives a good introduction: http://www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day.

So, all in all, there’s going to be a lot to look out for at the summit, and a lot to learn about successful communication. If you’re heading for the conference floor, don’t forget to plan very carefully how you are going to assert your message, and if in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the Scriptoria team for advice – we’ll be in our element!

Posted by Jessie Barnard (Scriptoria)

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July 27, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

BusyTrees – communicating complex messages to new audiences

Here at Scriptoria, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty in the name of effective communications – which is why we recently spent a week running a booth at the Glastonbury music festival to promote the BusyTrees agroforestry campaign.

BusyTrees is an international campaign that has been carefully devised to explain how using trees in agriculture (known as ‘agroforestry’) can help to combat poverty and the effects of climate change – which tends to ‘hit’ the poor in developing countries hardest. The main challenge has been to take agroforestry (a scientifically complex subject) and repackage it into a fun and accessible format that non-specialists can easily digest and will want to engage with.

Of course, advocacy of this kind takes more than a glossy website if you really want to get your complex messages across to a busy audience like young professionals. And that’s why we decided to physically deliver at least some aspects of the campaign at major festivals – pitching ourselves bang in the middle of the “Green Fields” environmental zone of the world’s biggest music festival. This is something that the groups who commissioned the campaign have never done before – and it’s proving to be a tremendous success.

As you can see in the video on this page, we also enlisted some invaluable help from the extremely cuddly BusyTrees mascot, Max Mango. He never failed to grab the attention (and affection) of passers-by, and we were able to collect a whopping 2300 signatures to jumpstart our “trees on farms” petition. What’s more, Glastonbury was teeming with fantastic new contacts – researchers, students, people working in the media, and CSR executives from large corporations. Just the type of people we need to help get the agroforestry movement off the ground worldwide.

More importantly, the agroforestry experts at the BusyTrees booth were able to explain in some detail to a completely new audience how agroforestry impacts not only upon the poor in Africa and Asia but also upon them – through products like fair trade small-holder grown coffee and chocolate for example. As one person said to us on the stall “I always buy fair trade and rainforest alliance products when I’m shopping – but until I talked to you guys I didn’t really know why!”

The BusyTrees campaign itself was commissioned as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Forests by the World Agroforestry Centre and other major international research partners like the UK’s Kew Gardens and CABI. It’s over arching aim is simply to raise awareness of the many benefits that using more trees in agriculture can bring – because although the amazing work done by the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners is well-known amongst top-level development agencies, it remains almost unknown by the public in the developed world. BusyTrees aims to change this situation, bringing support, and hence more political clout, to their vital “trees on farms” message. So, Scriptoria’s very pleased to be the company that’s been chosen to bring this about.

Check out the BusyTrees website here www.busytrees.com for a very brief introduction to the campaign. If you want more detailed information on agroforestry, you can find it at the www.treesonfarms.com – which is BusyTrees sister site. And if you’re a keen Facebooker, don’t forget to sign up at http://www.facebook.com/busytrees for all the latest campaign news and factoids.

All the best,

The Scriptoria Team

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February 11, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Are you a scientist or a journalist?

Calling all Scriptoria science writing trainees! If you’ve decided that writing about science is more appealing than researching it, you might like to apply to The Economist (yes, The Economist, not New Scientist) for the 2011 Richard Casement internship.They’re looking for a would-be journalist to spend three months of the summer on the magazine in London, writing about science and technology.

“Our aim is more to discover writing talent in a science student or scientist than scientific aptitude in a budding journalist,” says the advert.

Click here to find out more.

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February 10, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Scriptoria’s nice & easy guide to Flickr

Scriptoria’s new guide to using Flickr has been getting so much great feedback that we thought we’d better create a blog entry so that you can all give us your comments directly. As we’ve said before, we love Flickr as a cheap but highly professional way for non-profits (and anyone really) to store and share their photos with whoever they want. Using Flickr you can store photos in a secure area (so that only the people you give the link to can see them) or, you can share them with the world - by attaching Flickr links to your latest press release for example.

The only downside to Flickr is that it can be a little hard to use when you’re first getting to grips with it. Enter the Scriptoria guide to Flickr, which provides a simple ‘How To’ user guide to quickly tell you and your colleagues how to store and distribute your best photos using Flickr. The Guide is available free for download on our website - just Click Here. And, do please come back and leave us some comments once you’ve started using it. We’d love to know what you think about it and if you find it useful.

And, don’t forget that Scriptoria also produced a Field Guide to Photography a little while ago to help you take better photographs in order to promote yourself. To download that just Click Here. And don’t forget to leave us a comment to let us know what you think. Good luck, and happy snapping.

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February 2, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Devex calls for aid transparency - Up the revolution!

We at Scriptoria are right behind a campaign launched by Devex to prise open the sometimes murky world of aid money.

“Aid transparency … is a new aid revolution that sees international development organizations releasing more and better information in the name of accountability and effectiveness,” says Devex, the largest provider of business intelligence and recruitment services to the development community.

“With the new transparency come opportunities and challenges for donors and implementers alike.”

Too right. For too long, aid donors and recipients have been able to hide their failings under the cover of confidentiality. Some vested interests will resist, but we agree with Devex that openness is liberating and offers great opportunities, not least to the people and communities who are supposed to benefit.

To back up its campaign, Devex is launching Full Disclosure: The aid transparency blog in collaboration with Publish What You Fund, the London-based aid transparency group.

The blog is entirely user-generated, so add your thoughts to it now, along with donor officials, aid workers, IT experts, advocates and others who are telling us about their struggles and successes in boosting aid transparency and making use of the newly available data.

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January 25, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Are you free to dance?

It’s always a joy to find a communication campaign that stands out from the crowd. Right now, we are really taken with Free To Dance

The campaign is recruiting volunteers to join a record-breaking, five-day dance in London in September to raise awareness and funds for freedom in Burma. The political situation there may be sombre, but the way in which the campaign engages with people is anything but.

There are four things that make the Free to Dance campaign work so well. One, the message is simple - use your democratic freedom to help get freedom for those who are denied it.

Two, the campaign centres on one person - Ben Hammond, a teacher, who travels up and down the country dancing in well known locations and rallying support. So Free to Dance has a human face, which makes the campaign website and blog immediately accessible.

Three, the website is well designed, with good-looking black and yellow branding, and it’s easy to use.

And finally, Free to Dance uses a universal activity - dancing - to get people engaged. It resists preaching about repression in Burma, although there is a link to Ben’s educational charity LearnBurma. Instead, the emphasis is on the big vision - getting as many people as possible dancing for Burma.

Of course, Ben is not the first to put dance clips on the internet. Matt Harding “danced badly around the globe” in a series of videos a few years ago and became a YouTube phenomenon, with 34 million hits. There’s more purpose to Ben’s dance craze than Matt’s, although both have instant appeal to an internet audience.

So good luck to Ben and his team! We hope your campaign goes viral and gets the publicity it deserves.

Photo: Ben Hammond and friends dancing on the summit of Mount Snowdon in Wales, UK. 

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January 18, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Aussies keep climate-change promises

Here at Scriptoria, we sometimes pull our hair out in frustration.Climate change is the most urgent issue of our age, yet some nations that have allowed themselves to be hijacked by self-interest and ignorance block progress on tackling it.

Like many in international development, we welcomed the outcome of the Cancun summit on climate change in December (see this recent blog), but only in the same way as a man welcomes catching a cold rather than flu - neither is pleasant, but one is a bit less worse than the other.

At least, many of the countries in favour of international agreement on climate change are demonstrating their commitment while the big boys, China and the US, stand aloof.

One such is Australia, which has just started releasing A$236m (about the same in US$) of the A$599m it promised to help mitigate and adapt to climate change last summer (see the AusAID website).

The Aussies call it fast-start funding because it supports immediate action. The lion’s share (A$169m) goes to help countries in the Pacific, South East Asia, Africa and South Asia gain a better understanding of the likely impacts of climate change.

Another A$32m goes towards International Forest Carbon Initiative activities for reducing emissions from reducing deforestations and forest degradation (REDD+) in Indonesia and other countries.

Australia isn’t the only country making such commitments, but we like their up-and-at-‘em style. Typical Aussies.

Photo: AusAID/Josh Estey

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January 13, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

Human Planet is here!

Tonight, at 8pm on BBC One, it’s the first episode of the much-heralded Human Planet series. Everyone at Scriptoria is buzzing with excitement about this new series which documents how people have adapted to every habitat on the planet. But there’s one person in the office who is taking an especially keen interest…

…and that’s our co-founder Sandy Williams, who once travelled to a remote corner of the globe with Timothy Allen, the award-winning Human Planet photographer. Twenty years ago (she confesses) an expedition of six students from Leeds University travelled to an isolated part of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Here, they lived with the Wana people while carrying out research on two types of rainforest in the Morowali Nature Reserve.

The Wana people were, Sandy says, “utterly welcoming to their Western visitors”. They looked after them in their homes (wooden huts on stilts), guided them in the rainforest and showed them hunter-gatherer techniques like how to use a blowpipe to spear a monkey.

Today, the Morowali Nature Reserve has been opened up for tourism. So, the Wana people are not as isolated as they once were. Remembering the happy warmth of the Wana culture, Sandy isn’t sure how she feels about this. Tourism may bring financial gain to the area, but Sandy worries that something might be lost at the same time…

The experience in Sulawesi was a formative one for all six students, not least Sandy and Tim. While Sandy was inspired to do a PhD and work in forest-related research before setting up Scriptoria Sustainable Development Communications, Tim has gone on to photograph indigenous people all over the world.

Back in 1991, Tim was captivated when photographing the Wana people. Twenty years on, he has spent an intensive year and a half travelling the world taking pictures of a huge diversity of other indigenous people. The results are likely to be spellbinding.

So don’t miss Human Planet’s first episode: Oceans: Into the Blue, 8pm tonight. We’ll be watching for sure.

To find out more about Timothy Allen’s travels and see some stunning photos, check out his two blogs:

http://humanplanet.com/timothyallen/

http://timothyallen.blogs.bbcearth.com/

 Other Human Planet posts are on the series’ main blog site:

http://humanplanet.blogs.bbcearth.com/

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