Since the AMEC Global Summit in Prague, I’ve had more than one conversation where the answer to these questions is literally a blank stare. Often times, communications professionals work hard to earn video views on social media, fill a room with attendees or get coverage in local media. But no one addresses the elephant in the room: how is communications helping the organization achieve its overall objectives?
If you can relate, here’s how you can get on the road to better communications evaluation:
- Benchmark your measurement and evaluation program. Align your communications measurement and evaluation to the Barcelona 2.0 Principles to ensure transparency, consistency and validity. Are you setting measurable goals? Do you use qualitative methods to better explain quantitative data? How do communication outputs help your organization achieve its objectives? Then, use a benchmarking tool like AMEC’s Measurement Maturity Mapper (M3) to understand what “good” looks like relative to your organization’s type, size, market and sector. After completing the 15-minute survey, you’ll discover how to improve your communications reporting and planning. In addition, you’ll find out to what degree your organization is demonstrating impact beyond metrics.
- Adopt an integrated evaluation framework. Instead of focusing on one touchpoint or channel, at the expense of another, put your audience’s decision journey at the center of your evaluation. This will push you to measure and evaluate your organization’s communications across touchpoints and channels in a way that is consistent and credible. Integrated evaluation frameworks can also help you stay focused on driving outcomes and building organizational value. A good example is AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework. It’s easy to use, customizable and built on a solid foundation of theory and extensive testing.
- Create a measurement and evaluation culture. Dive into data on a daily basis and ask questions like “why?”, “so what?”, “now what?”. This will help you challenge the shared belief of “how things are done around here”. In addition, these conversations will put you on the path to breaking down data silos, integrating teams and selecting metrics that drive positive outcomes. If you sense that your team needs new skills and tools, make it a priority to invest in them. Mastery of data analytics, artificial intelligence and behavioral change techniques will be key to the success of any future communications team.
Of course, aligning communications activities with organizational objectives takes time, but it’s well worth it. Using this three-part approach, communications leaders at organizations, such as Prudential, Adobe, World Bank Group, Diageo and the UK’s Government Communication Service are now better equipped to deal with the elephant in the room. And they’re able to provide their chief executives with relevant insights.
So, tell me, if we meet a year from now, how will you describe the value of your communications activities? How will communications improve organizational performance and real-world outcomes?