Ella Duncan on What Evaluation Teams Can Learn from Content Marketing

Hello from DME for Peace! I’m Ella Duncan, Project Manager of the DME for Peace knowledge sharing platform, managed by Search for Common Ground. Founded in 2011, DME for Peace is an online community dedicated to the collection and curation of the scattered information, evaluation projects, tools, templates, and knowledge on Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DM&E) for international peace and development. We believe that all peace and development practitioners striving to improve their own work through thoughtful DM&E deserve Community, Access, and Guidance

Taking an adaptive, responsive approach to our content and activities keeps DME for Peace relevant to our audience, thus making it possible for DME for Peace to shape the narrative around key issues of DM&E. But agile, responsive learning does not happen without intentional design.

DME for Peace is challenged by how to inspire active engagement, turning access to resources into action. Or in other words, getting to use. Sound familiar? So what lessons have we learned about managing content that can also apply to institutional evaluation teams?

Lesson Learned: Know your audience

Identify key supporters, promoters, and decision makers who will be both receiving and responding to your evaluations and recommendations. Knowing who your audience is allows you to create a shared understanding of the value of evaluation, and so you as the evaluator can understand what framing will help incentivize your teams and partners to act on the learning being shared.

Lesson Learned: Build in protected times to reflect on how you’re connecting, and where communication is failing.

It’s easy for reflection to be a “one-off” activity, so create and maintain a reflection schedule. Build institutional mechanisms that enable and incentivize continuous processes. A supportive and reflective learning culture will provide a safe space to both envision a new path full of changed approaches, and to pursue that path with rigorous attention.

Lesson Learned: Be ready to change your approach.

Learning is only as valuable as its application, so if you see a communication style isn’t working, change it up! Every organization is different, be willing to experiment. Will a newsletter on recent evaluations help uptake? How about sharing recent findings in organizational or team meetings? Will highlighting work with partners bring more attention to an evaluation? You know your colleagues and peers, use your best judgment and see what works.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Ella Duncan on What Evaluation Teams Can Learn from Content Marketing”

  1. Hi Ella!

    My name is Dave and I’m currently completing my professional master of education at Queen’s University. I’m underway in a course dealing with program inquiry and evaluation and am definitely going to dig deeper into your community ‘DME at Peace’ and take a look at previous evaluation projects and such.

    I’m in the midst of completing my final task for the course and I can’t say how beneficial it was to read the 3 lessons learnt in your post. During my last module I was taking the angle towards how important collaboration is between evaluators and stakeholders in order for the evaluation to be useful. It was a nice surprise to see someone in your position have a similar viewpoint by ‘knowing your audience’. I think this would also lead into an easier ‘Change in your approach’ if need be.

    Best of luck Ella!


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