Communications Measurement Is About Showing Progress, Not Just Number Of Followers

Measuring the value and promise of communications and PR, in particular, has been an ongoing conversation in organizations, in board rooms and in the industry itself. Everybody wants it, not many know how to do it.

Getting crystal clear on your objectives is job number one. There are many reasons to have a communications effort:
• Visibility (positioning and awareness)
• Influence and persuasion (issues management, attitude and behavior changes)
• Volume attention (sales, attendance, web and social media traffic)
• Recognition & appreciation (kudos, awards, sales support)
• Employee recruiting and retention/employee communication
• Investor perception (stock value, investor and analyst attention)

From there, more exact goals and objectives should be identified. It’s not enough to just say you want to generate buzz. (Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries did that just fine, but was that kind of visibility a goal? Well, maybe.) You need to be more specific. This will help you focus on the impact that is made over just volume attention.

Next, identify what would directly and what would indirectly identify the impact a communications outcome will have.

For instance, if one of your goals is to develop a stronger pipeline of sales leads, you may engage in a speaking engagement program where you speak at many seminars and conferences where potential customers attend. Attendance at those events, number of after-presentation conversations, and web site statistics spiking (or not) are typical measurements. But those measurements don’t really identify the impact your speech had on the potential clients’ way of thinking, their conversations with peers after the event and what they tweeted, posted or commented upon online after your presentation was different than what they believed before, and how that unidentified reporter sitting way in the back changed his story because of what you said.

Numbers are good. But, numbers with the additional layer of attitude and behavior changes are better. How do you do that?

Furthering our measurement program for developing a more robust sales pipeline, other measurements to include would be:
• Before and after surveys (of conference attendees) (What piqued their interest?)
• Focus groups (Have beliefs and behaviors changed?)
• Feedback from the sales force before the year of conference hopping and after (Did they notice any changes?)
• Conference media coverage (Did it include you or rather instead include the competition?)
• Google analytics summaries (Did traffic come from the conferences?)
• Media, blog and social channel “audits” before and after a year of conference appearances (Did the conversation change?)

In the end, communication efforts take time to influence. Measurement takes time, too. But, the investment of resources, including your time and energy, is well worth the labor.

On Thursday, I’ll take each macro objective and provide a list of potential measurements to consider.

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