Together a general plan so that your program can

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together a general plan so that your program can collect any necessary baseline data before implementation begins, build any needed evaluation mechanisms into the program, and ensure that evaluation resources are allocated. To get started, do the following: 1. Read Stage 4 (Assessing Effectiveness and Making Refinements) and look at the table at the beginning of the Communication Research Methods chapter. What you learn about evaluation may affect what you choose to do with the program. your initial communication plan is complete to be sure the evaluation activities will be appropriate and valuable. 3. Involve an evaluation expert familiar with evaluating communication programs during initial planning. His or her advice can help prevent time-consuming fixes later by ensuring you develop a program that can be validly evaluated (e.g., making sure data collection mechanisms are in place, making sure baseline data are collected for comparison later). Create a Timetable Finally, produce a time schedule for development, implementation, and evaluation. The schedule should include every task you can think of from the time you write the plan until the time you intend to complete the program. The more tasks you build into the timetable now, the more likely you will remember to assign the work and keep on schedule. Also, detailing the tasks will make it easier to decide what resources will be required. If you forget important intermediate steps, your program’s costs and schedule might change. The timetable should be considered a flexible management tool. Review and update it regularly (e.g., once a month) so that it can function dually to manage and track progress. Many managers believe computer-based tools are especially useful for this task. Project management computer software contains schedule forms that you can fill in and monitor on the computer and print out for staff and others involved. STAGE 1 Making Health Communication Programs Work 47 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Planning Myth: Our program can’t afford to conduct intended audience research. Fact: Your program can’t afford not to conduct intended audience research. Without it, you do not know for sure whom to select, where to reach them, what to ask them to do, or how to ask it. The information you need to develop effective communication may be relatively inexpensive or free. Resources include literature searches, information available free from government health agencies, and advisory groups and representatives of the intended audience. For example, the National Cancer Institute’s 5 A Day for Better Health Program media campaign used primary research to identify its intended audiences, actions they would be willing to take, and benefits they would find compelling, but used existing marketing databases to obtain a great deal of information about their lifestyles, interests, outlook, and media habits. The cost for analyzing the databases was substantially less than it would have been to conduct and analyze additional primary research. Myth: Market research isn’t relevant for a health program. Fact: Health program planners can use the methodologies and types of information

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