Knowledge Mobilisation and Comms Table

Knowledge mobilisation and communications compared

Knowledge mobilisation (KM)



To bring different communities together to share knowledge to catalyse change

To get key messages to mass audiences across cultures using a variety of channels and media.

Overall purpose

To generate impact through research-informed decision-making. Without KM there is no impact.

To ensure target audiences know about research in a way that is meaningful for them and aligns with the goals of the research. Without comms there is limited awareness/reach.

Key concept




Interactions. Localised. Relationship-building. Incremental. Targeting specific ‘right people’ to build network/ team to make changes happen.

Mediated. Tailored. Targeted (at specific ‘right people’). Timely. Shared.


Researchers and anyone who can make the change happen – practitioners, policymakers, service users, parliamentarians, charities, managers etc

Researchers and anyone who can help get the message out there -  comms officers, press officers, partner organisations involved in research (e.g. third sector), media (print, broadcast, online), web team, designers, social media experts, multimedia content creators, PPI members etc


Networking, meetings, workshops, training, service changes, embedding new procedures, creative arts e.g. theatre, developing apps, system dynamics simulations

Press releases, social media (e.g. Twitter), websites, newsletters, blogs, feature articles, podcasts, broadcasts (radio and TV), infographics, videos, posters, events.*


*online events are increasingly reaching mass and cross-cultural audiences

Primary medium


Written, visual and audio materials

When start

Before research question when topic is an idea

Typically when funding announced but can start before then (e.g. if you want to help build case for or support for funding)

Duration of effort

On-going. Can last years.

Lifetime of a project, usually weighted towards the end (results).


Needs time and money allocated for researchers, targeted participants and knowledge mobilisers to work together for months if not years.

Flexible - there are usually paid for and free options for reaching target audiences. Time-intensive at specific points. Include researcher time as well as comms officer/press officer – we can’t do it on our own!

NB KM and comms work well together. For example, people from different communities can come together to share knowledge about a particular topic (KM) with the intention of developing a video (comms). A Twitter campaign spreading research-informed messages (comms) can attract the attention of key influential individuals with whom researchers can build relationships to bring about changes (KM).   

Created by Lesley Wye, Helen Bolton and Clare thomas, HPRU BSE November 2020