Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to some of the most common questions about how the Communications Protocol is being implemented.
Launched April 1, 2022 under the endorsement of the Executive Leadership Team and Dean’s Council, the Communications Protocol is a framework governing the shared responsibility for communications between the Office of Advancement and communications teams located within university’s faculties and business units.
The Communications Protocol applies to all communicators on campus. It includes consistent hiring and classification guidelines, and defines common standards and approaches that must be used by all communicators, including:
- Calendaring and planning
- Media relations coordination
- Visual identity and brand
It also includes a variety of communications services available for use by faculties and units on campus that can be provided at cost.
In 2019, the newly formed Office of Advancement announced that it would no longer support internal communications needs for faculties and units. This was due to a shift in resources and a need to focus on building the main UCalgary brand. However, this dramatic reduction in services left many units without access to communications professionals and affected the strategic business needs of the university.
To better balance the communications requirements of faculties and units, and to ensure fairness across the system, the Communications Protocol was created. Allocations have been established for each executive team member and individual faculties to help support their communications needs.
Anyone seeking access to communications supports that are not considered “on brand” activities will be required to pay for those services at cost. Faculties and units on campus have been provided with an annual allocation of communications services – a defined budget they can use at their discretion.
Communications projects that clearly demonstrate “on-brand” messaging are provided to faculties and units at no cost. This includes stories, events, ads or communications campaigns tied to the following brand elements:
- Canada’s entrepreneurial university (such as the Start Something campaign)
- UCalgary’s economic impact to the community
Design services to communications teams across the university are also provided at no cost for all external-facing products and priority internal-facing products as capacity allows.
The Office of Advancement works on a cost-recovery basis. Hourly rates are calculated based on the price it takes to recover the cost of staffing a position. For example, a junior communications specialist is charged at $45 per hour, a communications specialist at $55 per hour and a senior communications specialist at $70 per hour. This reflects the difference in salary rates based on varied experience levels of communicators.
There is a minimum four-hour charge for work performed outside of office hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm). After hours communications support are 1.5X the base rate.
Charges are based only on the hours dedicated to the specific task requested. The Office of Advancement assumes all costs associated with management support and / or oversight of communicators on your behalf.
Allocations for faculties are based on the size of the faculty – with smaller faculties receiving more support to balance their smaller in house communications team.
- Small faculty – $29,738
- Medium faculty – $22,050
- Large faculty – $11,250
Allocations have also been made for each member of the Executive Leadership Team.
- Office of the President – $147,000
- Office of the Provost – $147,000
- Office of Advancement – $147,000
- Office of Vice President (Finance) – $36,750
- Office of Vice President (Research) – $36,750
- Office of Vice President (Services) – $36,750
Allocations are based on historic service levels and current communicator positions that are fully funded within the Office of Advancement. They are reviewed annually.
Allocations are tied to current funding levels within the Office of Advancement. In 2022, the Office of Advancement is dedicating more than $850,000 of its annual budget for the communications needs of other faculties and units across campus. This is in addition to maintaining common standards, processes and softwares on behalf of all UCalgary communicators, or providing free communications supports for on brand activities. As with all units on campus, communications must operate within its budget constraints and can no longer assume the communications costs for units above what has been allocated.
Before taking on work on your behalf, communicators will send you an estimate for the costs associated for you to approve. This estimate is made in good faith, based on our average times for completing common tasks. Each month, your faculty or unit will receive an invoice updating you on the charges that have been incurred, the amount of your allocation and the current balance.
A budget transfer will take place once per year, at the end of each fiscal year. Monthly invoices will keep you informed of the status of your communications allocation.
There are several ways to reduce the cost of your communications project.
Be open to more junior staff completing more of the work. Charges are based on the salary costs of professionals, with junior communicators being a lower hourly cost than a senior communicator or manager. For many tactical tasks, junior communicators would be a great opportunity to stretch your communications resources.
Be conscious about how many meetings you are requesting. Meeting attendance will be charged under the communications protocol. Ensure any meetings you are requiring a communicator to attend will help drive communications supports required.
Be careful about multiple levels of approvals. By clarifying early in the project who needs to approve materials, and by trying to have between 1-2 rounds of approvals for your products, you can reduce overall costs.
No. The use of Office of Advancement communications services is optional – for both parties. All communicators must abide by the shared systems, processes and policies, including upholding the UCalgary brand. However, you are free to hire outside communications professionals to support your work. The Office of Advancement is also permitted to turn down work it cannot assume due to capacity limits.
You can ask to speak with Sarah McGinnis, Senior Director of Communications Services firstname.lastname@example.org or Corey Hogan, Senior Associate Vice President of Communications email@example.com to resolve this matter. Any disputes arising from the implementation or interpretation of the protocol can ultimately be adjudicated by the Provost or designate.