Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
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Guidelines for NCE Communications

Communications activities are a crucial component of any organization's success, and NCE-funded networks/centres are expected to place an appropriate priority on this area. This includes establishing a communications plan/strategy and appointing a staff person with the appropriate qualifications to manage these activities. This guide outlines what networks/centres are required or encouraged to do, and describes the resources and support available through the NCE Secretariat.

Effective communications and consistent messages are vital to the way in which members and stakeholders of networks/centres conduct and share their work. Activities, results and accomplishments need to be conveyed to both internal network/centre audiences and to external audiences, such as potential participants from all sectors, public policy makers, the media and the general public.

Networks/centres are expected to develop a communications plan with objectives and activities designed to enhance interest in the network/centre and its activities, and to promote the network/centre and the relevant NCE program to a broad audience. Networks/centres are also requested to collaborate with NCE Secretariat communications staff for their communications activities directed to an external audience.

 


Public announcement of NCE funding

After the conclusion of a competition, the process begins to notify applicants of the results and to prepare for a public announcement. Until the public announcement takes place, all those who know about the results are requested to keep the information confidential.

Note that this confidentiality does not preclude grantees from sharing information as needed in order to meet operational requirements. It is not intended to impede a network/centre from using its government funding in an optimal way. For example, networks/centres may need to finalize partnership agreements, hire staff or recruit members of their board of directors.

The announcement of funding being awarded to a network/centre is the prerogative of a federal minister (normally the Minister of Science or the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development) or delegate, offering an opportunity to highlight the government’s investment in research and innovation. The NCE Secretariat acts as the liaison with the appropriate minister’s office, and makes recommendations about the timing and location of a public announcement event. On some occasions, the NCE Secretariat may recommend announcing the competition results solely via a news release. In either case, protocol dictates that the final decision about timing and process rests with the federal minister.

Once the public announcement is planned, NCE communications staff work closely with grantees to coordinate the venue, guests, speakers, scenario, media relations and other logistics. The event typically takes place at the headquarters of one of the grantees, with leaders from the other grantees being invited to participate. Once the public announcement has taken place, individual grantees may organize “rollout” celebrations or official launches at their discretion. Networks/centres are requested to keep the NCE Secretariat informed of these events, and NCE communications staff will provide help such as inviting dignitaries and publicizing the event through NCE channels.

 


Crediting the Government of Canada as a funding source

Communications activities must acknowledge the contribution of the federal government in support of the network/centre’s work. This may include reference to the federal government, the NCE and/or the appropriate federal granting agency.

In terms of visual identity, the This link will take you to another Web site Federal Identity Program (FIP) specifies that recipients of federal funding should use the flag symbol that appears below. The Canada Wordmark may also be used to acknowledge federal funding.

The NCE symbol may be used under certain circumstances, at the discretion of the communications officer for the network/centre. For example, this symbol can appear on promotional material, websites or banners as a complement to the FIP. Networks/centres are also encouraged to use one of the following tag lines in conjunction with the NCE symbol: “An initiative of Canada’s research granting agencies” or “The NCE is an initiative of CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.”

Note that once the funding agreement with a network/centre has expired, the use of any of these visual elements, or text references to federal government support, must stop.

 

Flag symbol

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Canada Wordmark

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NCE symbol - Bilingual - English First

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NCE symbol - Bilingual - French First

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Network/centre communications activities

Most networks/centres hire a dedicated staff person to manage communications. Their role can include:

  • Developing the communications strategy/plan to ensure that the appropriate messages, images and communications tools are used to consistently represent the organization and its mandate;
  • Generating ideas for articles, news releases and events that showcase the impact of the network/centre’s work;
  • Providing strategic advice in the event of an issue arising that could affect public perception of the network/centre;
  • Managing relationships and liaising with partners, national and local media, public relations agencies, news agencies and event organizers to ensure project goals are met and timetable/budget parameters are kept;
  • Organizing interviews and managing the communication of official data; and
  • Writing or editing internal and external communications materials.

In addition to crediting the Government of Canada as a funding source, networks/centres are requested to proactively share relevant information with NCE communications staff. This may include news releases, notices of upcoming events, impact stories and videos. NCE communications staff monitor websites and social media accounts, but sharing the content directly will help ensure that the information is not missed.

It is also important that any issues that would potentially affect the network/centre, host institution, the NCE programs or Government of Canada be shared as early as possible with the NCE Secretariat.

The network/centre communications plan should be consistent with the organization’s vision and mission, and describe the strategies that will be adopted in support of its main objectives. Activities can include:

  • Facilitating internal communications such as information exchange among network/centre members;
  • Stakeholder relations, focused on creating and sustaining partnerships;
  • Promoting network/centre activities and outcomes to the general public, policy makers and the media; and
  • Conducting outreach and education to its members and research community.

 


Official languages

Given the national reach of the NCE, networks/centres are encouraged to publish their websites and other materials in both official languages where possible and as appropriate for their audiences. They are also encouraged to strive to communicate with stakeholders in their preferred official language.

 


Communications support from the NCE Secretariat

The NCE Secretariat conducts a wide range of communications activities, many of which help support network/centre communications activities. These are intended to increase the visibility of the NCE and its grantees, and foster connections between networks/centres. Specific activities and communication channels include:

NCE website

This is the central location for all NCE-related information and news. It includes a number of sections of direct relevance to network/centre communication activities:

  • Networks and centres in the news – NCE communications staff monitor network/centre websites and maintain a news feed that links back to those sites
  • NCE news – relevant news from the NCE Secretariat, granting agencies and other sources
  • Impact stories – longer stories that describe network/centre accomplishments in greater detail
  • Network and centre events – a listing of events organized by networks/centres
  • Network/centre profile pages – a summary of each network/centre’s mandate, structure, key personnel and accomplishments

ExcelleNCE newsletter

  • Published six times per year, this newsletter keeps the NCE community informed of the latest news from the NCE Secretariat, feature articles on successes and best practices, and news from the networks and centres.
  • Stories are generally selected from a representative sampling of articles that appear in the “Networks and centres in the news” section of the website.

Social media

  • NCE social media accounts share relevant news, events and impact stories from NCE-funded organizations, as well as NCE Secretariat news.
  • Follow us on This link will take you to another Web site Twitter and This link will take you to another Web site LinkedIn
  • A private LinkedIn group has been created for NCE leaders to connect with each other and share news, events and best practices. Request an This link will take you to another Web site invitation here. Instructions on how to use the discussion group are available here.

Annual highlights

  • Published annually in print and online, with the intention of showcasing the achievements of NCE-funded networks/centres to decision makers and other external audiences.
  • Stories are selected as a representative sampling of achievements from the full NCE portfolio, and can be drawn from information in the networks/centres’ annual reports to the NCE Secretariat, the “Networks and centres in the news” section of the website and other sources.

Webinars

  • Approximately four times a year, the NCE communications staff organize a webinar on best practices for NCE communicators. Past presentations are available here.

Other events

  • The NCE Secretariat occasionally participates in innovation events such as the OCE Discovery conference. NCE-funded organizations have the opportunity to provide the Secretariat with light promotional material for these events.
  • NCE communications staff may also be able to offer communications support for network/centre events, such as providing light promotional material and official NCE banners.

Liaison with government

  • NCE communications staff can help connect you to resources within the federal government (including the granting agencies), or help follow-up on event invitations to the Ministers responsible for the NCE-program (Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development; Minister of Health; and Minister of Science).

 


Editorial guidelines

Networks/centres are welcome to submit ideas and stories. Please check with NCE communications staff beforehand to ensure any submissions will meet the NCE’s editorial guidelines and current needs.

In general, the NCE publishes three lengths of stories: short vignettes for the newsletter (approximately 50 words), longer vignettes with quotes for annual highlights (approximately 150 words) and feature stories (500 words or longer).

News headlines, events and videos are normally posted automatically with a title and a link back to the network/centre website. All other editorial decisions are based on a variety of factors:

  • Relevance/interest of stories;
  • Balancing the exposure of the full portfolio of networks/centres over time;
  • Balancing the exposure of the full suite of NCE programs; and
  • Balancing the exposure of the various sectors represented in the NCE portfolio.