Guest post: Measuring the impact of communication

For this month’s guest post, we turn to our old friend, measurement and evaluation. I’m delighted to welcome freelance communicator, Adeeba Hussain, to share with us her tips for demonstrating that you have achieved your organisation’s ‘ideal state’.

Colourful tape measuresIn today’s uncertain world of Covid-19, delivering effective communication is more important than ever.

We, as communications practitioners can only determine effectiveness by measuring the impact of the content we are sharing. It’s just as fundamental for our audience today, as it’s ever been, to know what we want them to do, or how to act, when they receive communication.

As a communications practitioner, there is job satisfaction in knowing you have had an impact on your audience, ‘added value’. Measurement and evaluation of communications doesn’t always come naturally to internal communications practitioners.

According to one Gatehouse State of the Sector report, internal communicators still aren’t prioritising impact measurement. Although most of us consider measuring the impact of our communication as important, we admittedly are time-poor when it comes to carrying out the activity.

How do organisations know when they achieve the ‘ideal state’?
It has to be through measurement and evaluation. We need to measure the content that we share. We know it’s the last thing on the agenda of organisations in the current climate, but how else are organisations going to understand the impact their communications have had on their audience, be that internal or external.

Why is it necessary to measure and evaluate?

  • To find out if the content we share is having an impact. We clearly know that Covid-19 has taken over our day-to-day deliverables for both internal and external communications practitioners. This shouldn’t stop the organisation from finding out if the message sent is understood.
  • To find out if there is a behaviour change – in the case of Covid-19 do both our internal and external audiences know what to do each time new guidance comes out?
  • To continuously improve the content and messages that we share. So communications practitioners can segment future messaging, audiences and delivery – no ‘one size fits all’.
  • It’s business as usual for AMEC (International Association for the measurement and evaluation of communication) who have continued to mark measurement month in November. In which case organisations shouldn’t let measurement and evaluation drop to the bottom of their ‘To Do’ list either.
  • Hints and Tips

    1. Define outcomes. Always, in the words of Stephen Covey ‘begin with the end in mind’.
    Define what outcomes the business or client wants or needs, know what they want to achieve, and work backwards from this – ‘ideal state’. Talk to the organisation about the impact they expect if the communications are a success. How do they expect the organisation to look and feel before and after the communications – what’s their ‘ideal state’? Define what behaviour, knowledge, or attitude they are aiming to change.

    2. Use the SMART format (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) to write communication objectives linked back to the organisation’s strategy and business objectives. This provides focus and quantifiable measures, which is ultimately the end goal.

    3. Make measurement and evaluation part of the communication planning process.
    Good effective communication shows a clear demonstration link to the organisation’s objectives.

    4. Measure the change you want to achieve, and not just the activities and outputs you deliver.

    5. Don’t measure for the sake of it.
    Once you’ve measured and evaluated, don’t just share with your CEO and senior leaders and hide the report away in a virtual folder. Be open and transparent about the data. Take action and share the results with participants and the wider audience.

    6. Visualise data.
    The use of infographics is a good way to share data. Visualising data is more impactful.

    Adding value
    What we need for the current COVID-19 pandemic is lessons learned, evaluating and measuring post crises, to help drive learning and insights.

    So, when sitting down with an organisation and scoping out communications strategy, the conversation communication practitioners should be having is about what outcome the organisation wants to achieve at the end – the ‘ideal state’.
    As communications practitioners, what better way to ‘add value’ and ensure we deliver effective communications by setting into stone, in every communications plan, measurement, and evaluation.

    Remember in the words of W Edwards Deming “without data you’re just another person with an opinion”.

    Adeeba is a freelance communications practitioner who has worked in various in-house and consultancy roles across public, private and third sectors. Over the last 18 years holding in-house and consultancy roles, where she has advised key stakeholders from the Royal Air Force, local executive councillors and Managing Directors for FTSE 100 defence company BAE Systems, Heathrow Airport and First Group.

    Adeeba is passionate about communications practitioners helping organisations achieve the ‘ideal state’. Adding value to the recipient’s experience and believes good effective impactful communications can be achieved through measurement and evaluation becoming part of the communications planning process.


    Leave a comment