What managers care about is outcome and impact of communication. How did you pave the way for organizational success and tangible business results?
Dr. Alexander Buhmann, assistant professor, BI Norwegian Business School
In September 2017, BI’s Centre for Corporate Communication was pleased to hold a workshop on Measuring What Matters with one of Scandinavia’s leading speakers on communication measurement, Jesper Andersen form Quantum PR Measurement.
Participants were presented with hands-on exercises to help them work from the strategic level to the tactical level. In other words, start by defining business objectives and deriving communication objectives from these, and only then proceed to execution, measurement, and evaluation.
Participants learned how to apply modern principles of communication measurement to cases that are similar to the challenges they are facing in their work on a regular basis; like branding and publicity, employee recruitment, attracting new members, internal communication, and stakeholder management.
WHY MEASURE AND EVALUATE COMMUNICATION?
There are many reasons why you should mea- sure and evaluate your communication. You have probably already heard catchphrases like “What gets measured, gets managed” or “You cannot improve what you do not measure”.
But the single most important reason you as a communication professional should measure and evaluate your work is this: Delivering credible insights into what works and demonstrating your team’s contribution to the overall objectives of your organization is the only way you will ever be invited to take part in the strategic decision-making process.
It is that simple.
The fact of the matter is, no general manager is interested in tedious data on press clippings and Facebook likes or neat documentation of how many days, weeks, or months your department laboured to produce a newsletter or updated website.
WHAT MANAGERS CARE ABOUT
What managers care about is outcome and impact: How did you change the hearts and minds of your target audience and how did that pave the way for organizational success and tangible business results? How did your engagement with stakeholders produce strategic insight that helps your organization change and innovate in a fast-evolving competitive environment?
According to Andersen, existing models and methodologies for measuring and evaluation are not being put into practice. “That we should focus on outcome and impact, rather than output, is nothing new. That idea has been around for years, yet it does not appear to disseminate into everyday work of communication teams and agencies.”
There are two reasons for this, according to Andersen.
- First, measurement and evaluation is practically non-existent in the curricula of communication programs. Students are taught next to nothing about how to gather essential communication data and how to strategically reflect on the organizational impact of communications.
- Second, the market for communication measurement has been flooded for decades with quantitative analysis tools and systems that barely ever move beyond outputs.
The workshop is part of continuing work by the Centre to help organizations resolve some of the issues in measurement and evaluation mentioned by Andersen.
Previous initiatives include a broad survey on communication evaluation in Norway together with Kommunikasjonsforeningen; the 2016 Communication Summit on Evaluation and Measurement with over 200 participants and international key note speakers form Australia and the USA; and a new Executive Short Program at BI in PR Evaluation (run for the first time in Spring 2017).
THE MEASUREMENT DAY
Not least, in September of this year I took part in Measurement Day in Copenhagen, a conference dedicated entirely to communication measurement and evaluation. The conference was initiated by Jesper Andersen and aims to break with the popular perception that the effect of communication cannot be measured in a meaningful way.
It does so by presenting best practice examples of how communication has been used in a measurable way to support the core strategic objectives of organizations, and supplementing those cases with the latest research and models from the world of academia. The Measurement Day event is growing into an international event – perhaps coming to BI in Oslo next year.
- Buhmann, A., Likely, F., & Geddes, D. (2018, in press). Communication Evaluation and Measurement: Connecting Research to Practice. Journal of Communication Management, 22(1).
- Buhmann, A.; Brønn, P. (2017): Drivers and barriers in public relations measurement and evaluation: Analyzing effects on behavior. Paper presented at the 20th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference, Orlando, USA, March 8–12.