Preparing and Budgeting for Communication: Key issues to take note

Budgeting involves a set of activities lined up in order to achieve a given task. During budgeting, it is necessary that one plans ahead so that the donor can anticipate challenges that can be met and that all the necessary resources are mobilised beforehand.

Literature states that for purposes of planning, firstly the organiser should collect all the relevant information that may be required in the study area. This may include study materials and necessary protocols to be followed. Secondly, the organiser should collect secondary data for the site including demography, cultural norms and other related studies either taking place or previously took place in the same site as these might affect the perception the community would have on your study. Lastly, current laws, policies and practices should be reviewed as these might pose challenges when undertaking the study.

The strengths and weaknesses of the team (internal) and other factors related to the site of interest (external) should be identified. The strengths and weaknesses of the team might include but not limited to its affiliation to other institutions, staff experience, knowledge of the local language and adequacy of resources. The strengths and weaknesses would give a rough estimate of how strong or weak the team is. Identifying the external factors would help assess the risk of controversy that might be posed by undertaking the study through misinterpretation. This threat could be alleviated by using multi-stakeholder approach. The organisers should take keen interest on other professionals who have previously worked in the area, issues to do with gender, political events and even attending to community functions as these help establish trust and credibility within the community.

It is stated that although sponsors undervalue the function of communicating the results of research to the participating community and other stakeholders, sponsors recommend that separate line items of communication and dissemination activities be included in the budget.

 Good communication requires that a communications team from the site should be working together with the sponsors. The team should comprise of a variety of staff members reflecting expertise in science, communication and community engagement. Teams should be adaptable, manageable, involving technical support staff, have a clear leader and engage the community advisory board for their input.

 It should be noted that all staff members have a role to play in communication and should therefore be prepared to answer question. This could be achieved by training the staff members through fact sheets, use of hat trick and stating the three main points of the study. It is important to bring all the members together before the study begins. During such a meeting, members may share lessons learnt from the environmental scan, share intelligence on institutional or political factors, determine basic processes for internal communication, identify staff resources and conduct some basic media training. This meeting could be followed by a site initiation meeting where an overview of the strategic communication of the team would be presented. All sites should have a clearly designated spokesperson provided with media training to respond to inquiries from officials, media, advocates and the general public in timely and respectful manner.

 This paper is based on a collection of field information compiled for communicating clinical trials in ‘Communications Handbook for Clinical Trials’ (undated)


10 comments so far

  1. cgak05 on

    I agree that preparing and budgeting for communication is something which is highly important. Also, when it comes to budgeting another thing to think about is to come up with a realistic sum of money to work with.

    When it comes to talking about budget, some people in the team may not be comfortable in speaking about the issue of money. Hence, I also agree that it is important to note the strengths and weaknesses of each indicidual team memember. This is highly important and it ensures good communication between the team and also towards the client. A team that knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, makes a very successful team.

    I think your entry has definitely pointed out the importance of not only budgeting but more importantly team work and how team work is essential for successful communication between everyone who is involved in a certain project.

    • kwezaf01 on

      Hi, Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate for spicifically pointing out the issue of money because it was like embeded in the presentation, though what comes to everyones mind is money when we talk about budgeting.


    • kwezaf01 on

      Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate for spicifically pointing out the issue of money because it was like embeded in the presentation, though what comes to everyones mind is money when we talk about budgeting.


  2. wangd05 on

    I think the communication plays a very important part in budgeting, mainly due to the fact that we will want to avoid causing a conflict of stakeholder / sponsor’s interest during the course of a project. Apart from keeping the project within budget, other important “factors” within project management that should be discussed with sponsors / stakeholders. These could be deliverables / project outputs, deadlines and / or specific milestones that represents the sponsors needs within a project. After all, no sponsor would appreciate paying sums of money for nothing! ☺

    • kwezaf01 on

      Hi, Thank you very much for your comment. It is really important to look into the project deliverables and timelines. Some project organizers have found themselves at the end of the project duration but without anything to show.

  3. Cody Evans on

    I agree that organising teams of specialists and detailed budgets are something that would be required for large communication programmes. I also think it is a good idea to have a designated media spokesperson. When compiling a team of scientific specialists with various strengths and weaknesses it is important that the finial scientific package is communicated through the team member with the most experience in media liaison.
    If this information has been compiled from field information and previous communication programmes it is most likely to be a proven strategy for effective communication programmes.

    • kwezaf01 on

      Hi there, I appreciate for your comment. What you have commented upon is indeed true.

      The communication team need to have members with different expertise to address different issues. If no media spokesperson is available then there would be distortion and inefficient message delivery.

      • madeleinegordon on

        Hey there!
        I’m not sure I agree that someone purely from the media is your best option to communicate results to stakeholders and sponsors. From looking at Gavin & Leonard-Milsom’s article on climate change and the way the media covers events it has shown that many people don’t understand the science behind what the media is reporting. Possible because they aren’t communicating it right but most likely it is because the media themselves don’t understand the processes properly.
        This is where I think we come in as Science Communicators. Rather than have someone solely media based liasing between scientists and sponsors I think you need someone who actually understands the science.

        What’s your opinion?


        Gavin NT, Leanard-Milsom L & Montgomery J, (2011). Climate change, flooding and the media in Britain. Public Understanding of Science, 20(3), 422-438.

      • kwezaf01 on

        Hi, Thank you very much for your comment and and your interest to do more research on the topic. I think we are sailing in the same boat because the media expert we are talking about here is a science communicator entrusted to be a spokesperson of the team but provided with media training so that he/she responds to inquiries from officials, news media, advocates and the general public. Its just division of labour among the communicators. Cheers.

    • kwezaf01 on

      Hi there, I appreciate for your comment. What you have commented upon is indeed true. The communication team need to have members with differing expertise

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