Communicating an effective Policy

How To plan, write and communicate an effective Policy Brief

Three Steps to Success

Laura ffrench-Constant

This guide outlines how to make the most of your policy brief, by using strategic planning and targeted engagement with policy actors, to help you achieve positive policy influence.

It is intended for use by researchers, knowledge brokers and communications professionals.


  1. Policy Briefs Explained Page 4-5

The who, what and why of writing a policy brief

  1. Step One- Planning and Understanding your Audience Pages 6-7

What you need to know before starting to write and how to find it out

  1. Step Two- Writing a Policy Brief Pages 8-9

The format, length and content of a policy brief explained, with additional tips on language use and style

  1. Step Three- How to get your Policy Brief Out There Pages 10-11

Practical advice on engaging with policy actors and using the web to increase distribution of a policy brief


Policy Briefs Explained



A policy brief is a short, to the point, jargon free document written for non-specialists. It presents research or project findings to


Policy briefs are written for a variety of policy actors. Exactly who a policy brief should be written for depends on the aim of the specific policy brief and the level of its application, for example, local, national, regional or private. Finding the right policy actor to target is crucial to ensuring that it will be read.

National policy actors are individuals who make or change government legislation. Examples include: national Members of Parliament, local politicians, heads of state and civil servants.

policy actors, highlighting the relevance of the specific research to policy and offering recommendations for change.

Regional and international policy actors include: regional parliamentary representatives or delegates (eg European Union, African Union) and individuals or groups forming international institutions (eg United Nations, World Health Organisation).

Policy actors are also individuals or groups who have access to either public or private policy making processes. This includes: lobbyists, advisers to government, trade unions, NGOs, Think Tanks, the media, CEOs/CFOs of business and professionals within industry.



Policy briefs are the preferred form of communication favoured by policy actors. 79% of policy actors from both developing and developed countries rated policy briefs as a ‘key tool’ (Jones & Walsh 2008: 3).

Policy briefs act like a business card for researchers, presenting important research findings and a researcher’s background in a short and appealing way, the first step to establishing a good reputation and repeat consultations with policy actors. Policy actors consult known experts a significant amount of the time. A recent research paper found that policy actors utilise existing relationships with academics around 50% of the time when starting to research an issue (Talbot & Talbot 2014: 12).

Writing a policy brief evidences outreach and displays awareness of the impact of research, an increasingly necessary stage in securing grant funding. Most importantly, writing a policy brief can help change policy for the better!

HOW effective are they?

Policy actors are busy and do not have time to read full length academic papers. On average, policy actors spend 30-60 minutes reading a policy brief (Jones & Walsh 2008: 6). Thus policy briefs are an effective way of bringing important research to the attention of policy actors because they can be read in a short amount of time. Making research findings easily digestible increases the likelihood of research being read and acted upon. Condensing findings into policy briefs reduces the potential for important research to be lost beacuse the research is in a format that policy actors do not have time to access.

Policy briefs have the potential to reach large audiences through different networks because of their condensed format. Research has found that a policy actor will pass a policy brief on to colleagues if they perceive themselves to be important (Benyon et al. 2012: 76). This snowball effect, where a policy brief travels to an expanding circle of recipients, is only made possible because the research findings are in an accessible and transferable format.



Planning and Understanding your Audience

 The first question to answer is: what is the aim of my policy brief?

The aim of a policy brief can range from everything from your choice of language changing policy to raising awareness of to whether or not you present preferred an issue. The aim will determine who the correct policy actors to target are. policy options. Figuring out who to target will shape

The second question to address is: what does a policy actor want from a policy brief?

Policy actors want relevant solutions to in their shoes, will help you write a policy problems. A policy brief should more attractive policy brief.

clearly lay out evidence informed

solutions to a problem that the specific A good aim for any policy brief is to actor is interested in. These solutions pass the ‘breakfast test’. A policy brief should be realistic, feasible within should be read and understood in the the current political climate and cost- length of time it takes to drink a coffee effective. Understanding what a given over breakfast. policy actor wants, by putting yourself

Before starting to write a policy brief it is crucial to appreciate political realities, and any competing policy narratives, to ensure the best chance of achieving influence.

Work through the 3 stage grid on the following page from left to right, to help you decide upon specific policy actors to target and the best way to navigate your chosen policy area.


  What you need to know What you need to do How to do it

Policy Context

What level of application your recommendations have

How policy is made within the chosen issue area

Who has power to change or influence policy

If there is a problem with the current policy/demand for change

Pick a policy level:



Understand the policy process, the key players and timelines

Know the powerful policy actors and how to contact them

Pinpoint the gaps in current policy, look for windows of opportunity

Ask yourself who will be affected by the policy change

Research similar examples, explore the policy process from start to finish

Map out the key players. Look for missing link/ connections you can use or create

Read through current policy on the issue

Knowledge Landscape If there are competing narratives

If there are obstacles to the uptake of your recommendations

Why the issue is particularly pertinent

Establish why your policy option is different and  better

Identify cultural practises or widely held views that may oppose your recommendations

Establish credibility, timeliness and legitimacy

Identify alternate proposals from research institutions or policy makers

List reasons the public, groups or business may reject your proposals

Search the news, policy committees and current government reviews

Networks and Links Locate similar campaigns or recommendations around the policy  issue Work through existing networks

Learn from successful actors

Build partnerships

Use informal contacts


Writing a Policy Brief

A policy brief must be easy to read. Structure is important to get right. Ensure that everything the reader really needs to know is on the first page.

The length of a policy brief can vary depending on the discipline and content. A policy brief can be 1, 2 or 4 pages but no longer.

The format of a policy brief should be logical and easy to follow. It should include:

  1. Title- keep it snappy, short and informative.
  2. Executive Summary- two to three sentences summing up the entire brief. Use recognisable buzzwords and emphasise the relevance of the research to policy to draw the policy actor’s attention to read on.
  3. Introduction/Summary of the Problem- explain the policy issue and why it is particularly important or current. Put the research into context.
  4. Methods, Approaches and Results/Body- present the research/project findings in an accessible way for a non-specialist. Explain the methodology used to reach the results, such as a synthesis of existing research/literature or new research data. A policy actor wants to see robust results that are repeatable or corroborated by others.
  5. Conclusions- reinforce the key message to take away from the policy brief. Remember the executive summary is where typical conclusion content is, do not simply repeat it.
  6. Policy Recommendations- try and make only one feasible policy recommendation. If you are making more than one recommendation, differentiate them clearly e.g. in bullet points and keep it to three maximum.
  7. References and Suggested Sources- use references sparingly and suggest a few additional sources at the end to give either background or more detail to the policy issue.
  8. Acknowledgements, Author Details and Disclaimers- detail any funding used for the research, note down the author’s current positions and contact details, if the policy brief is being produced by an institution a disclaimer may be needed.

  Tips on language use and framing your message:


  • Be concise and very clear • Use active not passive language (Musandu 2013).
  • Highlight the benefits that your recommendations will have, to the policy system, to those affected by the policy and more generally e.g.

economically or environmentally.

  • Anticipate questions that the reader may have throughout the brief. For example, why should I carry on reading this? What relevance does

Tips for styling a policy brief:

  • If you have a Communications Department within your institution ask for a template or the expected masthead and layout.
  • Make sure the masthead is bold and eye-catching. If you are from a wellregarded institution, the masthead should emphasise this, opinions from well-regarded institutions are more likely to be acted upon (Jones & Walsh 2008: 5).


Write a policy brief soon after research has been published to capitalise on momentum and the novelty of the research. Policy briefs can even be written after initial findings are corroborated, to prime policy actors. this have? How did they come to these conclusions and recommendations? (Aldous-Grant 2012).

  • Do not present evidence in a manner that is confrontational to the beliefs of the chosen policy actors, information will be acted upon if it is salient to the policy actors’ viewpoint. Distinguish between personal opinion and evidence based opinion.
  • Break up the text into short paragraphs. Use boxes, subheading and bullet points as long as the text still makes sense. Consider diagrams and tables to save on words.
  • Put important points in bold or italics but do not overuse them or the brief will appear cluttered and confusing.

Try to write a policy brief at a fitting time, for example, if the issue has gained news coverage or policy makers’ attention, if there is an obvious shortfall in the current policy or if there is a crisis.


How to get your Policy Brief Out There

Have you ever heard a policy brief referred to as a stand-alone document? This does not mean that all effort should stop after the brief has been written.

Targeted distribution of your policy brief is the difference between it being read or unread.

Be cautious when selecting policy actors to send it to. Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind:

Do send it in paper form as well as via email.

Don’t send it a department or company without researching who to send it to, always send it to a named person.

Don’t send it to unrelated or very senior policy actors who are unlikely to read it.

Follow up the policy brief. Personal contact with a policy actor can make a real difference, especially due to policy actors’ reliance on informal contacts for advice. Practical tips on engaging with policy actors:

•      Make a telephone call to the policy policy actor, ask if they can send it actor to see if they require any extra on to a more appropriate colleague. resources or research reports after • Invite them to an event or seminar reading the policy brief. so that the issue can be clarified or • If they are not the most relevant discussed in more depth.

Be proactive and seek out existing opportunities to work with policy actors directly.

•      Hold a public seminar in a series • Look at funded knowledge exchange designed for policy actors. secondments and policy placements

•      Apply to a pairing scheme with a      for researchers. politician.

Improvise and seize windows of opportunity.

  • Have copies of your policy brief to hand out at related events and seminars.
  • Capitalise on public support or press coverage of the issue. Do not forget that the press and public shape the atmosphere in which policy is made.
  • Learn from, and link up with, similar campaigns or examples of research based policy change that have cleverly exploited gaps in existing policy.


Using social media and the internet to promote a policy brief

The internet is an often overlooked tool that can help your recommendations travel to wider audiences. Build an online presence by:

  • Uploading the policy brief to your website


  • Writing a blog about the research findings/recommendations
  • Advertising the brief via Twitter or other social media sites

Policy makers within government are being advised to widen their network of informal contacts within academia, and are being directed to social media as a ‘valuable’ way of sourcing new expertise (Government Office for Science 2013: 22). Building an online presence, especially using social media, is a key way to develop your profile as a valued expert by increasing your accessibility to policy makers.

Research suggests that, in general, Universities’ engagement with social media and online communications demonstrates under-utilisation and that they have yet to fulfil their potential. The findings suggest that building a ‘web presence’ will become ever more important in bridging the gap between research and policy (Talbot & Talbot 2014: 12). If you belong to a research institution, ask your Communications Department to blog, report and share your policy brief through their official channels.

What Ifs…

Still hesitant about writing a policy brief? Here are a few common barriers researchers may face accompanied by some solutions.

If you have more questions about policy briefs or research communications, ask the HelpDesk for expert advice from CommsConsult at http://www.

  1. What if I am not a respected expert within my field? I thought experts with a reputation were more likely to be listened to.
  2. The evidence is unclear, some studies do report an ‘authority effect’ (Jones & Walsh 2008: 4) whilst others discredit it, arguing that expert opinion only makes the policy brief more memorable not more persuasive (Benyon et al. 2012: 73). Use a policy brief as a way to build a profile, acting like a business card.
  3. What if I am not currently attached to a well-known institution? I thought work from well-known institutions was more likely to be read. A. Above all policy makers are looking for timely, engaging and feasible policy briefs. Evidence from analysis of civil servants does suggest an over-reliance on certain research institutions (Talbot & Talbot 2014: 23), however, think about sending your policy brief to other policy actors such as advisers and lobbyists to compensate. Make the policy brief visible online, use Twitter, post it on your website and consider listing it on Policy Library which directly reaches a large number of policy actors.
  4. What if all I want to do is bring attention to the issue instead of change policy immediately?
  5. Policy is unlikely to change immediately; the process of change is long and complex. Raising awareness of an issue can be done using multiple channels of communication, think about making the press aware of the issue to increase leverage over the general policy climate.
  6. What if I do not have time to do all this research about my audience and the policy climate?
  7. Write a research briefing instead. A policy brief should be carefully planned and followed up. A research briefing is based on the findings of a research paper and aims to give a fuller understanding of the issue. The two can however work hand in hand with a research briefing being sent upon request after the policy brief to give a more advanced insight into the research. Alternatively, if you have a Communications Department ask for help planning and writing a policy brief.
  8. What if there is no clear takeaway message from the research I am presenting in the policy brief?
  9. Be clear that there is no decisive answer to the issue your research addresses, that is the takeaway message. There should be no room for misinterpretation. There is a difference between concluding that no takeaway message can be extracted from the research and that the takeaway message is that no decisive answer is apparent.
  10. What if I am attached to an NGO who are known for being powerful advocates, will this undermine the credibility of the research I am presenting?
  11. Opinion is valued by policy actors (Jones & Walsh 2008: 6); policy actors want clear evidence based recommendations, which can be opinionated. Be sure to distinguish personal opinion from evidence based opinion. Remember that policy actors are looking for research that furthers their own agenda and legitimates their views; therefore, sending a policy brief to a staunchly opposed policy actor is not the best use of your time as they are unlikely to change their views as a result.
  12. What if the policy actor I want to send my policy brief to has opposite views to the policy recommendations that I am proposing? A. Frame your message carefully and remember that policy actors are unlikely to

change their predisposed values and beliefs on the basis of one policy brief (Benyon et al. 2012: 34), this means extra follow up work will be necessary. Style the brief in an objective manner, an advocacy style brief with strong policy recommendations may be discarded due to its’ contentious recommendations. Provide a number of policy options and do not recommend one policy option overall, if the evidence is clear enough then your chosen policy option should be apparent to the policy actor as well as to you. Follow up the brief with an invite to public seminar or with a phone call to capitalise on momentum. Consider other methods of influencing the policy context the actor works within, generate public or press awareness, and utilise moments of opportunity such as news coverage or a crisis.

  1. What if I cannot find a named person to send the policy brief to?
  2. If you cannot find a relevant policy actor ask for advice from your communications department or from colleagues who have experience in contacting policy actors. Contact your local MP who may be useful in finding the right policy maker with relevant interests and expertise. When dealing with private industry or business, send the brief to the Chief Security Officer or Chief Executive Officer. Avoid appearing like spam when emailing policy actors, this will be counterproductive.



Aldous-Grant, (2012), ‘Evidence and Engagement: The Balancing Act of the Policy Brief’, R2A, URL

Benyon, Chapy, Gaarder, Masser (2012), ‘What Difference Does a Policy Brief Make?’, IDS, 3ie, NORAD,  URL policy/

Government Office for Science (2013), ‘Engaging with Academics: How to further strengthen open policy making. A guide for policy makers’, URL uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/283129/13-581engaging-with-academics-open-policy-making.pdf

Jones and Walsh (2008), ‘Policy Briefs as a communication tool for development research’, ODI, URL publications-opinion-files/594.pdf

Musandu (2013), ‘How to Write Actionable Policy Recommendations’, R2A, URL

Talbot and Talbot (2014), ‘Sir Humphrey and the professors: What does Whitehall Want from academics?’, University of Manchester, URL http://www.policy.manchester.[email protected]_Senior_Civil_ Servants_Survey_v4(1).pdf 

Tools for understanding your audience and mapping the policy context/ knowledge landscape:

Influence Matrix:


Opportunities to engage with policy makers (mainly UK based):

ESRC Public Policy Seminar Series

Knowledge Exchange Secondments available through Individual University funded by ESRC or NERC opportunities/ImpactAccelerationAccounts.aspx

Policy          Placements    NERC placements/

Pairing Scheme RCUK

Pairing Scheme trialled in Uganda offices/bicameral/post/africa/

Policy Library

Additional Resources:

Research to Action collection on Policy Briefs: tasks/writing-policy-briefs/

Chandrika Nath, ‘How to tell policymakers about scientific uncertainty’, SciDev :

Chandrika Nath, ‘How do I brief policymakers on science-related issues?’,  SciDev:

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement on Policy Engagement, ‘Policymakers’: policymakers

Wellcome Trust, ‘Getting Research into Policy’: Education-resources/Engagement-with-your-research/Public-engagementopportunities/Government-and-science-policy/WTS040403.htm

IDRC, ‘Toolkit for Researchers: How to write a Policy Brief’:


Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essay GET A PERFECT SCORE!!! smile and order essay Buy Custom Essay

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.
  +1 718 717 2861           + 44 161 818 7126           [email protected]
  +1 718 717 2861         [email protected]