Taking stock of your relationships

It can’t be said often enough that communications evaluation isn’t about what’s easy to measure; it’s about measuring what matters. And in the spectrum of what matters to an organization, its relationships with key stakeholders or constituents is always among the most important factors in its success.

That’s why the nurturing of relationships is an aspect of communications value that often matters the most—and yet it gets reported the least. If you think about your own day-to-day contributions on the job, I bet you spend a lot of time building, solidifying or fixing relationships. This work is typically in the service of your organization’s corporate objectives. For instance, an advocacy organization might try to build alliances with partners; a not-for-profit may aim to promote its organization among key funders; or a municipal government may focus on influencing provincial or federal stakeholders.

It’s essential to ensure that your communications evaluation captures this kind of added value. So consider assessing these relationship elements as indicators of how your efforts have paid off:

  • Trust: What are indicators of trust among your key stakeholders? For example, how do they assess your level of transparency and accountability?
  • Engagement: How can you assess and report on their level of engagement in your activities?
  • Reputation: What is your organization’s reputation vis-à-vis key stakeholders?
  • Alignment: What is their level of alignment? Are you effectively collaborating with a common purpose and direction?
  • Satisfaction: To what extent are they satisfied with your communications activities, or even with your organization’s performance as a whole?

It may take some creative thinking to measure these variables in a way that makes sense for your organization—but do this and you’ll truly be measuring what matters.