Making measurement work for you

Let’s face it – as a communicator you barely have the time, let alone the budget, to measure your communications activities. Yet your senior management team is constantly asking for data on return on investment and the evidence that communications has demonstrated a meaningful result.

So what’s a communicator who’s committed to measurement and evaluation to do?

Here are three practical suggestions:

  • Distinguish between performance indicators and measurement tools. The single biggest mistake communicators make in evaluation is to confuse these two spheres. Start by defining your indicators of performance (i.e. what you want to know to assess your success). The measurement tools (i.e. mechanisms that tell you how to know if you’ve succeeded) will flow logically from that context. For example, if your performance indicator is the level of staff awareness of a new policy the associated measurement tool is an employee survey.
  • Take time to establish a baseline. In order to demonstrate any kind of progress or change, you first have to know where you’ve started. Have the discipline to capture baseline data which will be fundamental to your ability to show your results. For example, the only way to demonstrate an improvement in staff morale is to document levels before a communications campaign was undertaken.
  • Select measurement tools that are meaningful and workable. A significant barrier to evaluation work is a perception that measurement tools (such as surveys and focus groups) are time-consuming and expensive. The reality is that while many are, there are also cost-effective, efficient alternatives available.

Remember, there is no single area of focus that will make more of a difference to your work – and to your career – than to embrace measurement and evaluation.