Communication Measurement – Beyond Hits and Clicks

Companies previously measured the success of their communication by how many paper newsletters were taken from the rack. It was only the slightest of upgrades when those efforts were replaced by tracking the number of hits to the company intranet.

But it’s not the quantity of articles or visitors that matters most – it’s the value of the communication. Do employees understand? Are they getting what they need? Are they taking action on the information? Do they even care?

Every good communicator has used a variety of tactics to collect input and data on communication programs. The menu of options is nearly endless: surveys, audits, polls, focus groups, intercept interviews, online forums, employee councils and workshop sessions. Too often, however, these tactics are deployed independently rather than as part of a larger measurement strategy. Here’s one simple way to think about stacking your individual measurement activities to deliver a more holistic view of your overall program’s effectiveness.

One of our more ambitions measurement projects – and one in which we’d be happy to help additional clients – was a full-scale, annual communication audit to gauge the effectiveness and importance of all company communication. Sent to a statistically significant rolling sample of global employees, the audit guides the priorities for and content created by the Communications team. We conducted follow-up conversations and focus groups with employees to gather more specific input. The results provided us with a treasure trove of data and verbatim quotes that helped guide our decision-making throughout the year.

Measuring the value of specific vehicles – primarily on value, format and frequency – is a fairly common activity. But taken in isolation, this type of feedback is generally light on actionable steps that can help you positively reshape your overall program. A few items worth noting: Make sure you and your team are clear on each vehicle’s role in your portfolio before asking a single question about it. Delve more deeply into your audience’s take on the content than on the mechanical elements of the vehicle itself (format, frequency, etc.). And remember that employee feedback – even if it’s positive – does not necessarily validate a vehicle’s existence. On this last point, it’s critical to consider all vehicle-specific feedback within the broader context of your overall communications strategy and the results of your annual audit (above).

The beautiful thing about a holistic measurement strategy is that it makes goal-setting easy for your team. The actions you identify to improve your overall communications program should flow directly into team and individual goals. Taken as a whole, this provides a shared mission for your department and a greater level of clarity regarding who is responsible for what.


To see other examples of our work, go to Mini Case Studies.

Categories: Mini Case Studies

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