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Communicating Results


Communicating results is fundamental to the work of UNDP. It demonstrates the transparency and effectiveness of the organisation, builds influence and trust, attracts new donors and demonstrates accountability to existing ones.

When embarking on external communications it’s important to maintain UNDP’s organisational identity while also giving credit to our partners, including governments, UN partners, CSOs and donors.

This communications guidance focuses on why and how to communicate, and includes information on brand identity and use of logos, writing stories and press releases and guidelines for photography, video, social media and crisis communications.

Why Communicate?

With increased competition for donor funds and a demand for greater return on investment, it is essential programmes communicate on results and impact. Effective communications of results can:

  • Build influence and trust
  • Strengthen existing partnerships
  • Attract new donors
  • Demonstrate impact and contribution to advancement of SDGs
  • Promote accountability and transparency.

How should we communicate results?

  • Ensure communications are strategic: What is the aim of communicating results? What do the audience need to know and why? Communications has a strategic function and should support programme goals. For example, this could be demonstrating value for money to donors or illustrating how the organization is taking an innovative approach to addressing a long existing problem.
  • Do the analysis: What is the issue being addressed? How is it affecting people at a country, regional and global level? How does it fit within the wider frame of inequality and exclusion, the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Healthcare? Think about the wider context and how to frame the programme results within this.
  • Impact, Impact, Impact: Communicating results needs to go further than giving numbers of people reached or quantities of medicines procured. Results communications should also explain the issue being addressed and the impact of the intervention.
  • Identify the right audiences: Who needs to see these results and why? What platform can help reach them? Are the target audience on social media? Will they view the organizations website? Can the communications be included in a newsletter? Never lose sight of the audience – from deciding on which platform to use through to developing the communications. Always consider how the information is presented and the language being used.
  • Choose when to speak: When will interest in the topic be highest? Is it possible to plan results communications to tie in with relevant launches, key dates, events or programme milestones?
  • Be creative: How can results be communicated in an engaging way? Why should someone read or view this communications piece? What different story angles or format could help draw a reader/viewer in? The story will be competing with millions of others for the readers/viewers’ attention. How can it stand out?

Identifying Communications Material

Sometimes, communications professionals are working alongside programme colleagues. Where this is the case, it is important for comms people to have regular contact with programme colleagues to fully understand the programmes and to find out what is worth communicating. Programme staff are not necessarily aware of what makes a good story or comms product. Likewise, comms colleagues are often in the dark about what a programme is achieving. That is why close communication is necessary to bridge the gap.

Good communications material can include (but is not limited to):

  • Results, especially positive results of a programme or component.
  • Stories, on the ground, about how UNDP has helped or is helping a person or community.
  • The opening or inauguration of a service or place (school, advice centre).
  • Innovative approaches being taken by a programme or initiative.
  • A profile of an inspiring person that has been encountered during the course of implementing a programme.

Effective storytelling

  • What is a compelling human interest story? This is a story with a human being/s at the centre of the narrative. It gives a personal perspective which the reader/viewer can connect to. Meetings, workshops, launches, reports, etc., do not, by themselves, make a compelling human interest story.
  • What technical information is required? It is important to provide the context, the factual background, and covers the basic questions of Who, What, Where, When and Why. Try to answer these questions without using jargon. What is the project, why is it important, where is it taking place, who is going to benefit, who are the partners, how will it be implemented?
  • What is the story? If it is not clear how the results can be developed into a story, try the issue/action/impact format. What is the issue the programme is responding to, what are the actions being taken to address it and what difference is it making to people’s lives?

Writing Guidelines

  • Use plain language
  • Confirm the basic facts of the story
  • Get the name, age (if appropriate to ask) and other relevant facts of the person being interviewed
  • Include beneficiary quotes Include numbers (of people assisted, of money provided for microfinance, etc.)
  • Give credit – name your partners
  • Take a picture
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the reader
  • Ensure you have all necessary internal approvals before publishing

UNDP Style Manual

Photography and Video

Photography is effective, immediate and powerful and with the rise of digital platforms, offers an opportunity to engage viewers and tell complicated stories in a simple and impactful way. Confidentiality is particularly important when working with images. The guide to using UNDP’s model release form below can help when dealing with issues of consent and is particularly important if you are photographing vulnerable people and children. Confidentiality considerations extend to everything featured in the image; care must also be taken not to show names on medicine bottles or medical reports. Brand names of medicines should also not be promoted.

The UNDP photo library is also available for your use here.

The library includes a selection of UNDP photographs from projects in each region, and new images are added every week. You may search for photos through thematic areas (such as health), regions, countries, or key words. For example, if you’re looking for images for “Day for the Eradication of Poverty,” search for “poverty” or “SDG1.” To view photos in full resolution, open an image, and then select the box icon in the upper right corner of the photograph. You’ll also be able to find descriptions and the required credits for each photograph.

UNDP Photo and Video Guidelines

UNDP Model Release Guidelines

Social Media

Social media is an important component of UNDP’s strategy and ecosystem for external communications. We use social platforms to support our key messages and campaigns and to promote local, regional and global stories, which are not always covered by mainstream media.

Social media is a good way to directly reach and interact with target audiences online. On social, we have an opportunity to share our messages in a humanistic tone of voice and make UNDP more relatable as an organization.

Information on UNDP Channels, how to get started and some basic dos and don’ts are all included in the UNDP social media guide below.

UNDP Social Media Guidelines


While UNDP encourages creativity in publication design, basic graphic standards help maintain a consistent corporate identity. The UNDP Brand Manual, incorporating logo use, can be found on the intranet. When communicating jointly, the Global Fund Identity Guide for Partners contains practical information about the organizations identity, placing of logos (including when UNDP logo appears in a publication with logos of partners or government institutions etc.), language and trademark to help partners in their campaigns, events and various forms of communications. Please be aware when using other brands that those organisations may have their own guidelines. See below for a link to the Global Fund identity guide for parters. Always check with the communication focal points for organisations when using their branding and gain necessary approvals.

UNDP Branding Toolkit

Global Fund Identity Guide for Partners

Crisis Communications

Crises strike both inside and outside the organization. Whether conflict, natural disaster, or scandal, we must be prepared to immediately reach out to our internal and external constituencies. Crisis communications strategies must have a clear focal point who will manage the internal sharing of information amongst relevant colleagues. Senior management and your relevant communications focal point must be kept informed.

It is important to think about how you are going to respond to a crisis before that crisis happens. That means that it is important to identify areas of risk in your work, or issues that are potentially combustible. If you have a clear crisis plan in place, it will be much easier to respond swiftly and effectively when crisis occurs.

The following is a list of steps that can be followed for crisis communication in a Country Office.

  1. As noted above, in anticipation of crises such as these, a crisis communication plan should already be in place.
  2. This crisis comms plan should also highlight the crisis team. Who is dealing with the crisis? (It would usually be the highest ranking official in the office) and who is officially designated as the person to talk to the media? This is to ensure that people do not talk to the media and several versions of the official response do not proliferate. If there is insufficient experience in the office, it may be necessary to draft in regional or HQ experience. The media spokesperson should be trained in talking to the media. It is recommended that all senior management should have media training, in case they are called upon to respond in a crisis.
  3. When the crisis hits, media monitoring should be set up to monitor how the crisis is being played out in the media, as this will also determine our response. We should not be the last to know something. Again, if the country office does not have capacity to do this, it could be done at a regional level.
  4. Find out as much about the situation as possible. Until you are in charge of all the facts you are not able to respond adequately to the crisis. A timeline of issues and actions taken can help internally.
  5. Identify stakeholders – who is likely to be concerned about this crisis? Usually, donors will be extremely concerned, but also the government will likely be a stakeholder. Contact the most important stakeholders as soon as possible and inform them that you are aware, you are concerned, and you will keep them up to date on developments as they occur. They are less likely to be annoyed if they are kept in the loop from the beginning.
  6. Develop a holding statement and communicate this to the press. This statement should merely say that UNDP is aware of the situation, that it is investigating, and that it will take all necessary measures to deal with it. A reminder that UNDP is usually one of the most transparent aid organisations (according to the Transparency Index) is often worth citing here. Holding statements should be approved at the highest (usually HQ) level.
  7. Develop key messages. These are the messages which reflect the corporate response once the full situation is known.
  8. These are the initial steps for crisis communication. Obviously, long-term follow up and remedy of the issues, and communication of these are also required.

Crisis Communications Checklist

Crisis Communications in UNDP Guidance

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