Using PR research to inform policy, positioning and stakeholder engagement – International Diabetes Federation

Category: Healthcare

Client/Entering Company: International Diabetes Federation

Campaign title: Using PR research to inform policy, positioning and stakeholder engagement

Company Name: International Diabetes Federation


About IDF

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is the global federation for 231 national diabetes associations in 170 countries. Its objectives are to provide a global voice for people living with diabetes and those at risk, campaign for a world without diabetes, and promote diabetes care and prevention. It is the recognised global authority on diabetes, and advocates with policymakers on multinational political platforms (e.g. G7, G20, UN General Assembly). The Federation has been leading the global diabetes community since 1950.

The Project

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) engaged Commetric to identify advocacy influencers to enhance its stakeholder outreach. Employing its Influencer Network Analysis methodology, Commetric analysed a relevant sample of international media coverage, identified the most prominent influencers and stakeholders in the media conversation, and illustrated how these influencers are linked.
This helped the IDF become more targeted and efficient in its stakeholder outreach and directed overall communication strategy.
Actionable insight from the research, such as an intelligence informed influencer outreach list, contributed to tangible results. Examples include diabetes being the second most mentioned topic on Twitter in connection with the G7, despite the topic not being on the summit.



  • Inform future campaign planning;
  • Identify active influencers for potential advocacy and communications partnerships;
  • Provide external validation that this strategy would lead to positive outcomes for the organisation.


In 2012 the World Health Organisation announced an aspirational set of targets to drive progress on diabetes and non-communicable diseases, including the first ever global target to halt the rise of diabetes. This specific target indicated a need for the diabetes community to forge partnerships and advocates outside the diabetes ‘world’.

Informed by media listening, mindful that the debate surrounding diabetes, sugar and obesity was converging, the IDF knew it needed to engage outside of the diabetes ‘world’ (national member organisations, healthcare professionals, academics, corporate stakeholders). By building strategic alliances and partnerships across all sectors – the UN, governments, civil society and private sector – the IDF would strengthen its impact.

The IDF also needed to stake its position in the media debate surrounding diabetes, sugar and obesity, based on informed intelligence. A landscape and stakeholder analysis from Commetric was commissioned to inform the team’s actions moving forward.



Business titles and online sources with a global spread were identified to reflect the IDF’s broad target audience which consists of multiple stakeholders. Commetric’s Influencer Network Analysis methodology mapped stakeholders central to the discussion in English, French and Spanish articles published between October and March 2015.

The research explored the media and stakeholder landscape surrounding nutrition, sugar and obesity, all factors impacting diabetes prevalence. Content analysis identified topics receiving attention, highlighting potential partners for advocacy collaboration. The research also identified themes evident and emerging, to assist the IDF with message formulation.

The communications and advocacy team was keen to tap into the ‘middle tier’ of influencers which sit between global policy making platforms (G7) and front-line diabetes prevention and care advocates (including the IDF’s members: national diabetes associations). They needed a better understanding of the content being shared and discussed by these influencers. The findings would also give structure and focus to future communications and stakeholder engagement planning.

Commetric worked with the IDF to develop a media search strategy to source a relevant coverage sample. Keywords relating to nutrition, consumption, diabetes, prevention and sugar were agreed (and translated), returning 1,401 articles for manual enrichment and analysis by Commetric’s media analysts. This sample was large enough to provide meaningful data, yet focused enough to fit the budget.

image08Names of individuals and organisations within the discussion were automatically identified using entity extraction software. Articles were read for relevancy, duplicates and irrelevant items removed. Each influencer’s role was identified and coded (healthcare professionals, celebrities, academics, regulators, NGO reps, journalists). Similarly, Commetric identified organisations, sub-topics in the discussion, and coded each influencer’s sentiment towards the discussion (positive, negative, or neutral towards the sugar and nutrition debate). This provided input for network maps and tables illustrating those central to the discussion, what topic they were discussing (providing intelligence for targeted message outreach) and which sources and journalists were promoting/supporting this messaging (aiding future campaign planning).

The study also ranked how central each individual and organisation was to the topic. This methodology, inspired by Social Networking Analysis, an academic discipline developed by sociologists in the 1960s, identifies individuals in a group who are true drivers of change, regardless of where they sit in a formal hierarchy. This means a person or organisation connected with many others in a conversation network, is ranked higher than someone more isolated. If these connections, in turn, are linked with many others in the network, the person/organisation will rank even higher. This insight helps prioritise outreach efforts to target the most relevant and influential stakeholders.

The sentiment analysis, combined with ranking of how central a person or an organisation is to the discussion, provided insight into the advocates, swing voters and critics within the relevant conversation. This provided the IDF with actionable intelligence for comms planning and stakeholder engagement.



Objective: Inform future campaign planning
Research revealed that key messages originating from the IDF were being amplified and spread by stakeholders. Local member organisations helped spread the message, as did others in the IDF’s network including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution; Consumers International, as well as corporate supporters from AstraZeneca, Novartis and Lilly.
Analysis revealed differences in the strength of interconnectedness of influencers in English language media versus French and Spanish media, suggesting different outreach approaches for advocacy and communications may be appropriate for different markets.

Objective: Identify active influencers
The report gave the IDF a list of external stakeholders to target. This intelligence was used successfully in its G7 “Call to Action” campaign. Social media outreach efforts targeting influencers identified by Commetric contributed to diabetes being the second most mentioned topic in connection with the G7 on Twitter, despite the topic not being on the Summit agenda.
The report findings guided the IDF to reach out to organisations and individuals for direct interaction. From this outreach, meetings were held with: Food Revolution, World Obesity Federation, Action on Sugar, from which new ideas have sprung and seeds for potential partnerships have been sown.

Objective: Provide external validation
Using external data with a broader outlook to inform policy and positioning provided the team with context and insight meaning that work was better aligned internally.
Intelligence helped strengthen the IDF’s working relationships with members. Diabetes UK and the American Diabetes Association were identified among the most central organisational influencers in the debate, initiating discussions internally aimed at strengthening the cut-through of diabetes prevention and care messages.


The IDF has acknowledged the high level of “intelligence and mileage derived from Commetric’s report”. Eric Drosin, Director of Communications and Advocacy, was thankful for the way in which the report opened the eyes of those within the IDF of the need to take an outward looking view at the influencer and advocacy landscape in order to effect change.

“If we were not ready to fight the war we could already begin the skirmishes. The key was to find allies”. – Eric Drosin, Director of Communications and Advocacy

The research has encouraged the IDF to bring Commetric in earlier in future as it formulates policy. It has informed action across the organisation, up to board level. The positive reception to the research internally has “helped the team break the cycle of those above asking ‘what are you doing and why?’ and has helped the team become more proactive in its outreach.” Drosin concludes, “To be an authority you not only need to provide expertise, you need to be forward looking and provide thought leadership. Commetric’s research helped us to do that”.

The findings have contributed towards comms and advocacy planning for future World Diabetes Day. It is their intention for all major projects to be informed by landscape and stakeholder mapping going forward.



The stakeholder lists and centrality rankings in Commetric’s report enabled my team to realise who was most important in the conversation and helped us to prioritise who we should be speaking to and why.
It meant that we could efficiently target the key influencers to achieve the most impact and ultimately ensure that we got the strongest return on investment for our outreach efforts. The shelf life of the report has been extended as we will use the insight provided in the document to inform our future planning needs, such as the upcoming World Diabetes Day (November 14th 2015) and World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver on November 30th 2015.
– Eric Drosin, Director of Communications and Advocacy


Name of contact: Magnus Hakansson

Email: Email: [email protected]

Telephone: + 44 7733 260 383