How to Craft a Communications Dashboard Tied to Organizational Goals

If you’re overwhelmed with the number of analytics tools available on the market for communicators, you’re not alone.

Between free options like Google Analytics, paid platforms like Meltwater and Adobe, and native analytics on social media sites, it can be a challenge to determine where to look to find the data that’s important to your team and company. Especially if it turns out that the metrics you need can’t all be found in one place.

But, if utilized correctly, this can be a boon rather than a burden.

Through thoughtful experimentation, Chris O’Neil, chief of media relations at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has found the tools his team needs to access important data and create easy-to-read, relevant dashboards to share with leadership. And, he says, it turns out that a combined approach to measurement within the communications group at NTSB was the right path for them.

O’Neil explained that knowing why you want to measure your programs will help determine what kind of dashboard you need. Here are some questions O’Neil suggests communicators ask themselves to reveal the logic behind their measurement efforts:

  • Are you trying to demonstrate alignment with strategic organizational initiatives?
  • Are you hoping to prove the effectiveness of your team’s planning and tactics?
  • Are you trying to examine whether you’ve achieved the desired goal on a recent communications plan?

When you have answers to these questions, then you can move on to dashboards. But don’t be taken in by all the bells and whistles. Sometimes simple and basic is the best, despite all the modern functionalities that some analytics tools offer, said O’Neil. All a dashboard really entails is a graphic representation of the data surrounding a topic or issue. Too much unnecessary information can dilute the message.

Once the NTSB communications team began using the analytics tool Meltwater for all their measurement programs, it became clear that putting all measurement tools “under one umbrella” was not the right tactic for them. While the organization still uses Meltwater for some functions, such as performance data on news releases, they supplement the tool with native social platform analytics used by NTSB's digital services team. Trial and error helped O'Neil's team find a metrics combination that worked for them.

Remember, too, that when it comes to dashboards, knowing your audience is just as important as in your other communications efforts. Speak with your leadership to learn what exactly they want to see, and find the combination of analytics that will bring those metrics to light.

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