Interreg Aurora recommend using Project logic based on the Theory of Change. Sustainability and communication shall be considered in all parts of the Project logic.
Define problems and needs – Knowledge and background analysis
What would you like to change? A project should always be built around a concrete need, so this is actually the first step when working with the theory of change. We need to distinguish between ‘interesting’ and ‘important’ project ideas. The programme aims to fund the project ideas that are important for the region and that have a positive impact on society in general. Remember the cross-border perspective!
Which problems need to be solved and which needs do you want to meet? Understand and define the problems and needs – what are the underlying causes? There are many ways to perform these analyses: Lessons learnt, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), Logical Framework Approach, Issue mapping, the 5 W-s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) etc.
Define the project objective – Input
How will your project make the situation better? How will your project contribute to a genuine impact in the Aurora programme region? Define your project objective clearly and preferably use the method of S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Remember that objectives are not the activities in your project and not defined by the activities. An objective is defined by the needs.
Define the work packages – Activities
How will you achieve the project overall objective? Use your background analysis as tool for planning activities to reach your project objective and desired results. Project management and communication are activities that are essential in the project. The project’s activities have to be integrated with the sustainable development and with the European Green Deal. Activities with a possible negative impact on sustainable development will not be selected for support. Create a realistic budget and time plan for your activities. The duration and the tasks of a project are interlinked. The duration of a project is set according to the objectives and tasks at hand but is always limited and clearly defined. Regular projects typically last for 2-3 years, depending on the activities. Remember that cross-border cooperation can also be visible through the well-balanced numbers in your budget!
Define project outputs and an Exit Strategy
What will the outputs of the activities be? Measure your results using the programme indicators. Define an Exit Strategy to implement the project’s outputs and to ensure that results have a genuine impact on society.
Sustainable development is Interreg Aurora’s overarching goal and will be a driving force in the implementation of the programme.
Social sustainability means promoting a society that respects the fundamental rights of all people and fostering a fair, equal, and inclusive society. It is a society with a high level of tolerance and a focus on the equal value of people, which means that people trust each other and are involved in the development of society.
Ecological sustainable development is about long-term preserving the earth’s ecosystems, limiting negative environmental impacts and conserving natural resources so that they are sufficient for future generations. It is about using our collective resources in a way that maintains the state of nature, promotes human health now and in the future, and adapts consumption to environmental constraints.
Economic sustainability means using, caring for and maintaining resources to create long-term sustainable economic value in society. It means more sustainable and competitive businesses and more jobs, where growth goes hand in hand with sustainable development. Economic sustainability is about managing and developing human and material resources, without causing negative impacts on ecological or social sustainability.
Communication is an important strategic project tool for all stages of your project and it ensures that people understand the importance of what you do. A communication strategy is important both in the application process and it also contributes to achieving your project objectives. Therefore, project communication requires time and resources.
Developing a communication strategy
A project communication strategy needs to cover:
The purpose of communication is the goal to achieve or change something;
It is important to make a difference between the project objectives and communication objectives. The project objective describes the project’s intended and direct outcomes – for example a strategy or a new model. Communication objectives describe how communications can help deliver the project aims. Be careful with setting up too many objectives and risk overreaching with communication ambitions.
Communication objectives need to be SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Appropriate
R – Realistic
T – Timed
It is necessary to distinguish between internal and external communications objectives. Both need to be addressed, communication between the partners as well as communication which is targeted at stakeholders outside the project partner organizations or at the general public.
All target groups have different characteristics and needs. To identify them, all project partners should together develop a list of important people and organizations that need to know about the project and your work. It might be important to prioritize if the list of target groups is too long.
Different target groups are reached using different messages and different media channels. Messages need to be tailored to be appropriate for different target groups. For example, what is relevant to researchers might not interest the general public.
It is important to keep things clear, relevant, interesting and simple. The audience often suffers from an “information overload”. Photos and short videos can be an alternative.
Activities and communication channels
What are the best way to reach your target groups? Is it a website, conference, video, a campaign on social media, a press release, newsletter or a publication? The partners should also choose the most appropriate communication channel for each of the target groups. Several channels will probably be suitable for your communication needs.
You need to develop an indicative time plan when communication activities would best be carried out based on the project’s objectives. You need to identify important occasions/milestones.
You need to plan a budget for communication activities already in the application phase. The partners should go through all the planned activities and consider if you can organize everything with your own staff or whether the expertise of an external service provider is needed.
The last step is to evaluate the effectiveness and success of your communication activities. Define your own indicators, how you will follow the outreach of your communication activities? For example, number of participants on events, number of articles or publication, website and social media outreach.
Remember to monitor media coverage like articles, radio and TV published about your project.