“Keep it simple” says public contributor at our creating better public involvement ads seminar
22 March 2022
A seminar focused on what the public want to see in adverts for research involvement proved a hit on 14 March. Nearly 270 people joined the National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) online seminar.
Attendees were mainly academics and patient and public involvement (PPI) professionals, with some public contributors. Most areas of the UK were represented, from Southampton to Glasgow and there was even one delegate from Australia. This mix of people led to lively debate in the chat and too many questions to answer in the time available.
The seminar was focused on a workshop Mike Bell, PPI Facilitator for NIHR ARC West, ran in 2021.
Mike is part of People in Health West of England, a partnership that promotes and enables public involvement in the West of England. This means he gets sent a lot of adverts for involvement opportunities, written by researchers and aimed at the public.
Some of these ads are good, and some of them aren’t. Mike decided the best people to ask for advice on how to improve these ads were the intended audience. So Mike assembled a group of people, most of whom had never participated in research or PPI before.
At the seminar we were joined by Sarah Mead, one of those people in the workshop. Sarah’s son had been involved in Mike’s Young People’s Advisory Group, and she was curious to know more. Mike invited her along to the workshop, which looked at ads he’d been sent over the years.
During the seminar, Sarah said:
“I think most people will say this, the simpler the better. What we found with some of the old adverts that were going out was they were full of acronyms and very long words and phrases that we don’t use in our everyday life.
“Things like ‘public engagement workshop’ meant nothing to me, didn’t know what that was, it sounded like some kind of community meeting somewhere where you all object to a housing estate being built. I had no idea what it was.
“Very long ‘in words’, if you like, or ‘in phrases’ within what you guys do, so that’s always a little bit off-putting really.
“To me it’s easier to keep it simple. So some of the more simplified adverts were very popular. A date, when and where, if there’s going to be payments and what it’s about. All the other nitty gritty stuff you don’t really need to know at first glance.”
Watch the recording of the seminar
Mike Bell said:
“I was bowled over by the popularity of this seminar. It shows there’s a real appetite for discussions on how to attract and communicate with public contributors. Some of the discussions in the chat were very interesting and have given us food for thought for future events. In fact, I feel like we need another seminar just to answer all the questions.”