Working collaboratively strengthens, extends and unifies NIHR's communications.

We are a virtual community of communications leads - meeting annually - from across the NIHR.

We join up comms functions in NIHR coordinating centres (CCs) as well as designated parts of the NIHR, from the research schools to Local Clinical Research Networks, to share best practice, ideas and resources. 

Annual event

Communicators' Day 2022

After two years of online events, we were thankful to host our 2022 NIHR Communicators’ Day in person on Thursday 13 October in London.

This year we were guided by an inclusive communications theme, exploring experiences, great practice, and the positive impact of inclusive comms in action - as shared by you and our guest speakers.

Event takeaways - Inclusive Communications

It was great to see so many colleagues, new and long standing at this year’s NIHR Communicators’ Day, although we're sorry if you couldn't make the date.

As promised, here are takeaways from our inclusive communications themed day.

Please continue to connect with your communications colleagues in centres and across the wider NIHR family. 

Thank you
NIHR Communications

Inclusive communications and NIHR’s EDI Strategy: Embedding inclusion in practice

Slide deck from NIHR's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team

Contact email: 

Further resources - INDivisible book, Allyship video, All that we share video

Sharing session - Inclusion in practice

Table outputs and ‘inclusion jar’ post it notes 

Some other examples:

The role of communications in reducing healthcare inequalities 

Slide deck from Leicia Feare, NHS England’s Head of Communications – Health Inequalities Improvement 


Learning Bursts 

Writing clear, accessible and search-friendly content 

Slide deck from Ben Jacobs and Helen Butterfield

How to extend the reach of your social media channels

Session handout from Joanne Dolezal and Peppe Rella 

Community led Communications

Links from Greg Woodley and Meerat Kaur

Involving young people to communicate COVID-19 research reports

Community organisations working with medical students to create videos about COVID-19

Community engagement toolkit created by NIHR colleagues in North East and North Cumbria and other regions 

NIHR’s Communications Community

NIHR Communications Site - Resources for NIHR communicators 

Connect with your NIHR Regional Communications Link 

Event organisers - NIHR Internal Comms Team email:


NIHR communications community 

Our community is organised and managed as follows:

  • Communications Programme Board leads our strategy, chaired by Frances Beves, NIHR Director of Communications, supported by several NIHR-wide teams/sub-groups to deliver key aspects of the programme, namely: Campaigns; Content; Social Media; Website; Internal Communications and Regional Engagement (incorporating the Regional Comms Links programme); Press Office; and, most recently, Global Health Research.
  • NIHR corporate communications team reports to Frances Beves, with leads for Web; Campaigns; Press Office; Internal Communications and Regional Engagement; and Global Health Research Stakeholder Engagement and Communications.
  • NIHR Internal Communications Team works with Hannah Stoneman, Internal Comms and Regional Engagement Lead, to share and add value to centre and NIHR-wide communications.
  • Regional Comms Links inform our activities and provide invaluable feedback on, and input to, the Communications Programme, and are drawn from across the NIHR.  Following a pilot in 10 regions, we have expanded the number of areas to 12, and we currently have some vacancies . Read more about the roles  or complete a form expressing your interest.  If you have any questions about the RCL role  please email Hannah Stoneman, Internal Comms and Regional Engagement Lead. 
  • Coordinating Centres (CCs) contribute to the delivery of the Communications Programme through their communications teams, promoting the work of the NIHR they lead on as well as NIHR-wide campaigns and other projects.
  • Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) staff in the Media and Campaigns team and Science, Research and Evidence Directorate advise on national priorities and, through relevant CCs, provide quotes for news releases and can arrange ministerial visits to NIHR sites.
  • Comms leads from across the NIHR connect with their managing coordinating centre and Regional Comms Link and with others at the annual NIHR Communicators' Day and other projects.

Directory for NIHR Communications Leads 

The community:

  • connects through this site and the NIHR Comms Directory, used for cascades from the NIHR (please contact with your name and part of the NIHR you lead comms for if you are not yet in the directory).
  • enables CCs to keep DHSC in sync with notable news and research developments from the respective parts of the NIHR they manage, via an advance notification process for press officers in which news releases and other media activity is flagged.
  • provides the pool from which NIHR Regional Comms Links are appointed.
  • ensures all parts of the NIHR have access to advice on applying the NIHR identity, naming or otherwise acknowledging the NIHR.

Advice on working during the COVID-19 pandemic

Comms colleagues from across the NIHR provided the following tips prior to the NIHR Communicators Event 2020. 


  • be proactive instead of reactive 
  • make sure you know what you can stop doing when something urgent comes up
  • understand and accept priorities can change on a daily basis and be prepared to adapt quickly
  • don't react too quickly, strive for a good balance, and assess the appropriateness of what you plan to say 
  • prepare as much as possible in advance (e.g. schedule outputs/social media) to allow time to respond to external needs while maintaining a flow of information


  • be clear, factual and concise
  • link up with comms teams in your area of work and create a media platform for frequent updates, rather than individual messages
  • honesty, compassion, realism and simplicity are the key communication values, which should be prioritised in communications, for next six months
  • positive messages are essential - and clarity about progress and achievement
  • bitesize is the way to go as online attention spans are short - mix it up with discussions, interaction

COVID vs non-COVID content

  • try to find a balance between COVID and non-COVID output
  • keep supporting researchers involved in COVID research by disseminating findings and highlighting cases
  • keep in touch with NIHR comms via website and social media for national updates
  • have good systems and processes in place to find out about COVID-19 research e.g access to databases

Work/life balance

  • pay attention to your work/life balance - we all work better when well rested
  • look after your mental health 
  • take plenty of breaks if working from home and don't be hard on yourself for lapses in motivation 
  • find out when your most productive hours are and build your working day around them
  • switch off your phone and laptop when you're finished for the day whenever possible


  • work together as a team, be kind to each other and look for opportunities to continue to raise the profile of the NIHR
  • support each other as much as possible - this is a challenging time and keeping momentum going while maintaining good mental health is a priority
  • involve your staff as much as possible through internal communications and social media


  • accept uncertainty and go with the flow. This is a great opportunity to be creative and make a difference
  • be prepared to get stuck into work which may not fall into your normal responsibilities 
  • flexibility is key in these times, but leads to professional development and learning and more and better relationships
  • stay calm and focused, and learn from every experience
  • be very clear about what you share and always seek some help/proofreading from your peers
  • embrace the chaos, reflect when you can and ensure you regularly switch off from work to prevent burnout

Online communication

  • online communication has become more important and valuable - we need to ensure we improve our skills and understand how best to engage and involve people virtually
  • utilise digital tools to reach NIHR Infrastructure and other partner communications teams - effective collaboration is key to achieving impactful comms
  • we need to think about how we bring people in that aren't digital savvy, and replace the benefits of face to face events in an online format