Checklist – Building an Effective Communications Strategy for your Project

A. Ensure good management

#1 – Have resources been allocated (time and money)?

  • Does your proposal include a work package on communication?
  • Have you prepared a communication strategy and timeline?
  • Does the communication element of the project involve all consortium partners (and their respective staff, including researchers)?
  • Is there awareness that communication is a continuous process, not a one-time effort when the project ends?
  • Are you ready for the unexpected? Have you thought about how to respond effectively to such things as publication in high-ranking journals or a sudden new event related to the project’s


#2 – Are professional communicators involved?

  • Have resources been allocated to professional assistance with the drafting of press releases, graphic design, maintenance of the website and other communication tasks? Larger institutions usually have an in-house capacity for this.
  • Have you considered taking any training in the field of communication or including a communication expert in your team?

#3 – Is continuity ensured?

  • Are there any arrangements to ensure that information will not be lost once the project comes to an end?
  • Does the project provide for any feedback loops back to the European Commission that can help with amplifying the message, for example by notifying an event, or before publishing a press release?

B. Define your goals and objectives

#1 – Are there any goals and objectives?

Have the final and intermediate communication aims of the project been specified, what impact is intended, what reaction or change is expected from the target audience? For example:

  • Receiving feedback or engaging in dialogue
  • Influencing the attitudes of decision-makers
  • Having people make a decision or take action
  • Ensuring that the project outcomes will be taken into production

#2 – Are your goals and objectives neither too ambitious not too weak?

Is there a deadline by which the goals should be achieved, taking into account different stages

of the research and possible intermediary outcomes?

Are the objectives specific and measurable, rather than vague? Does the project envisage ways

of measuring its communication efforts and impact? For example:

  • Evidence of debates in the media
  • Evidence of new funders for your area
  • Evidence of transfer of research and innovation into practice (patents, prototypes, licenses)
  • Number and turnover of new products, practices or procedures developed, based on your

research outcomes

  • Number of articles in the press
  • Number of people asking for feedback or more information
  • Number of references in scientific publications
  • Participation in project events and seminars
  • Speaker evaluations from conference presentations
  • Survey of end-users
  • Trends in website visits

C. Pick your Audience

#1 – Is your audience well defined?

  • Is each target audience a relatively homogenous group of people (not: ‘the public at large’ or

‘all stakeholders’)?

  • Can the indicated audiences be further specified? For example: from ‘the general public’ to ‘female citizens commuting by train to work in one of the EU-10 countries’ or from ‘decision-makers’ to ‘Europarliament-arians involved in the design of the new transport policy 2013’.

#2 – Does it include all relevant target groups?

Can your audience help you reach your objectives?

  • Who has an interest in your research?
  • Who can contribute to your work?
  • Who would be interested in learning about the project's findings?
  • Who could or will be affected directly by the outcomes of the research?
  • Who are not directly involved, but could have influence elsewhere?

Does the project aim to address both a direct audience and intermediaries to reach more people?

What about the possibility of audiences at local, regional, national and European level?

Is the audience external (not restricted to consortium partners)?

D. Choose your message

#1 – Is it News?

  • Why do we need to know? What will change? What solutions are you offering? What makes makes the issue urgent? What are the consequences if no action is taken?
  • Have you tried to stir your audience's imagination and emotions?
  • How does your work relate to everyday life? Does it link to any broader societal issue? Rather than focusing only on the provision of factual information, is your project research positioned within a broader socio-economic and policy context, so that it will be easier to explain the results and their relevance to policymakers and citizens?

#2 – Are you connecting to what your audience wants to know? See through your audience's eyes:

  • What do they already know about the topic?
  • What do they think about it?
  • Do they need information and/or persuasion?
  • Have you tested your message?

#3 – Are you connecting to your own communication objectives?

E. Use the right medium and means

#1 – Do they reach the audience?

  • Are you working at the right level (local, regional, national)?
  • Are you using dissemination partners and multipliers? Dissemination partners can help amplify and multiply a message. Rather than aiming to build an audience from scratch, the project should indicate which partners to use and how.

#2 – Do they go beyond the obvious?

  • If input or contributions are needed, are there mechanisms in place to make communication

interactive so as to obtain responses?

  • Are you taking into account the different ways to communicate?

Examples of Effective Communication Channels and Methods

Interpersonal, two-way communication

  • Dialogues, face-to-face conversation
  • Group discussions
  • Conferences
  • Brokerage events
  • School visits
  • Tours
  • Round tables
  • Exhibitions
  • Meetings
  • Workshops
  • Open days
  • Demonstrations and prototypes
  • Telephone calls
  • E-mail information service (question and answer)
  • Internet debate

Mass media, one-way communication

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Press releases
  • Newsletters
  • Manuals
  • Brochures, booklets, flyers
  • Letters
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Video
  • Posters
  • Stickers
  • Banners
  • Billboards
  • Website
  • Policy briefs

Need assistance managing Communications and Dissemination in a research project?