Business leaders across the globe ask this question (nearly daily) of their team: how do we know our communications work? As someone who’s been in the communications field for more than thirty years, the answer is rarely cut and dried. But no effort should be embarked upon without having some idea of how you’ll tell how you are doing and how to share that with managers, executive teams and other stakeholders.
Measurement and evaluation are critical elements of every communications plan in order to validate results of your efforts, make course corrections, and develop better strategies and tactics.
Entire books have been written about communications measurement, but below are some thoughts to get your started.
Consider these five basic measurement points, liberally borrowed from the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications framework.
- Exposure and Awareness: How will we know people viewed our messages at all? Are they aware of the issues and options we bring to them?
- Knowledge and Understanding: Do they understand what we are trying to say or do? Does it make sense to them?
- Interest and Consideration: Will people listen to our viewpoints? If given the choice, will our offering be considered?
- Support and Preference: Will our viewpoints and offerings be chosen? Will people reference us?
- Action and Real Behavior Change: Will our viewpoints and offerings incite specific actions, usually meaning will they buy our products and services or change the way they’ve done something in the past or take a different action.
Most communications efforts rely on simple metrics such as web site visits, social media ‘likes,’ ‘follows,’ and shares, email ‘opens’ and other number-based measurements to understand the above. But by adding a healthy mix of market research, polls and surveys, content analysis and share of discussion, and lead sourcing, you’ll be far ahead of your competitors in the measurement and evaluation game.
If you care about your return-on-investment for PR, advertising and other communications activities, you’d be wise to plan how you’ll measure before you launch any campaign.