Tip Sheet: Measurement Methods: You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea

Today, even though good communication is vital to every organization's success, we still agonize over measuring the effectiveness of our programs. So, is your organization getting the most out of its communications dollars? The odds are that you aren't sure; have set up unrealistic goals or measurement tactics; or, the C-suite is skeptical.

The reality is that there is no off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter solution for every organization but, with the help of some straightforward guidelines, you can more easily identify the correct answer for your own.

*Look for a return on measurable objectives, not just a return on investment. From the start, you need the client or management to agree with the objectives and how results are quantified. Communications campaigns can have any number of goals and the success of your organization's efforts can vary on a project-by-project basis. Before you can quantify success, however, you must first answer the question: "What do I expect from this work?" Your objectives can be traditional goals such as improved sales for a particular service or product or more personal targets, such as improving employee morale.

*Choose measurement methods that make sense. Once you've chosen objectives that fit both your project and your expectations, you need to choose measurement methods that make sense and that can be integrated into existing processes and formats. In a sense, there truly is no right or wrong here. If you've set a goal of earning coverage in the media, a traditional measure such as number of clippings and their placement may be appropriate. If you are looking to improve employee morale, measurement may entail a "before and after" survey of employees, or simply noticing an improvement in the mood around the office. Crafting a sensible measurement program will also help you avoid situations where the costs of measurement put your project budget out of reach - regardless of whether you spend too many hours evaluating results or invest too much in the latest reporting software or analytics.

*Include measurement in your plans and budgets. To be truly effective, measurement must be part of your organization's communications work from the beginning of each project. Often measurement isn't included in communications plans until the end of a project, at which time there is a mad scramble to prove what everyone already knows, that the work was worth it.

*Fail fast. You've planned a communications campaign and you've budgeted for measurement methods that match your objectives. Now what?

Report early and often, as this allows you to monitor the success of your project from the beginning and, in a worst-case scenario, enables you to fail fast when your program isn't working. At that point, you can evaluate what has gone wrong and create a new plan to avoid wasting valuable resources on campaigns with no value.

The bottomline is that your client deserves to know if your program is effective. Bill Gates has been widely quoted as saying that if he was down to his last dollar, he'd spend it on PR. He can make such a claim because he knows his communications work. Can you say the same about yours? PRN


Terry Hemeyer is the senior counsel of Pierpont Communications, and ?Jonathon Rucket is the VP. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].

Sample Measurement Methods
Traditional Leading Edge
Number of Media Clips and Their Placement Marketing Mix Model
Foot Traffic/Attendees Psychographic Analysis
Traceable Custom Telephone Number Customer Satisfaction Analysis
Pre and Post Tests Communication Optimization Model
Write Fors/Call ins/Entries Communication Analytics
Focus Groups Cluster Factor Analysis
Source: Heymeyer and Rucket, Pierpont Communications