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Communication of Impacts

In order to communicate impacts in a meaningful way as one of the final steps after their identification, measurement, evaluation (if necessary), presentation and analysis, two essential factors must first be clarified, which decisively determine the manner of preparation of communicative measures. The first is the original purpose of the impact analysis, which is closely linked to the purpose of communication activities. Here, a classic distinction can be made between legitimisation, control function, gaining knowledge and dialogue function. Recently, the issue of positioning has been increasingly added. On the other hand, the central target groups must be determined towards which the communicative measures of impacts are directed , whereby these in turn result from the purpose of the analysis. Their sometimes very different requirements and interests must be taken into account in communicative activities in order to "be heard" at all.

The communicative preparation of impacts can now be designed according to the purpose and the target groups. First of all, it should be asked to what extent impacts should be communicated for a specific purpose or for a target group. Here it can make sense to pick out individual impacts, but impacts can also be communicated aggregated by stakeholder or the aggregated overall impact, i.e. the social added value of an organisation/company.

In a further step, the type of preparation of communicative activities can now be determined according to the purpose of the impact analysis and the target groups. On the one hand, a distinction must be made here as to whether an impact or impacts are communicated as a pure result, in relation to inputs or activities, or together with corresponding indicators. In addition, impacts can, for example, be described qualitatively, prepared in the form of a visualisation, communicated as quantified or even monetised values. Finally, the relevance of different impact dimensions, i.e. the substantive, structural and temporal dimensions, as well as their linkage to SDGs can be assessed.

In order to facilitate the determination of the relevance of different communication elements for individual stakeholders or according to the purpose of the communicative measures, an impact communication tool was developed. Depending on the purpose, a table can be filled in and the relevance of individual communication elements (vertical) for the different target groups (horizontal) can be assessed. It is recommended to work with the categories "high", "medium" and "low" or ↑, → and ↓ and to build up impact communication on the basis of this assessment.