Written by Joanne McCarthy, originally published on the Newsweaver blog on October 21, 2016.
Making molehills out of mountains: taking the mental block out of measurement and KPIs for internal communication
Internal communicators are well aware of the importance of measuring their work. In fact, Newsweaver’s recent Inside IC survey revealed that some 95% of IC staff recognise the importance of measurement. Those figures don’t correlate, however, with the percentages of staff who actually measure.
So what is stopping people from measuring, when they know its importance and value?
According to the survey results, one of the main things stopping people from measuring is the perception that it is difficult to do so. Some 68% of IC professionals who responded to the survey stated that it was difficult to measure the effectiveness of internal communications: that’s more than two-thirds of the industry. It is becoming increasingly clear that this perception is a blocker to measurement.
The issue was discussed with industry experts David Grossman, Angela Sinickas, Sam Marshall and Steve Crescenzo on our recent survey webinar. Their responses provided some interesting insights and food for thought.
Management Consultant Angela Sinickas said she was not at all surprised that 68% of IC professionals felt it was difficult to measure.
“Many of us went into the communications industry so we wouldn’t have to take any more math classes, so to be told 20 or 30 years later that we are expected to measure is a big switch!
“There is an assumption that it is difficult, but in truth it doesn’t have to be,” she said.
Steve Crescenzo, CEO of Crescenzo Communications, agreed.
“It is difficult to measure for a lot of internal communicators. The first issue is that they don’t like math. The next issue is that they are intimidated by it. The third issue is that they don’t have a lot of time. So many people are on a hamster wheel pushing out content and they don’t have extra time to measure.
“And the fourth thing is that they don’t know what to measure. So it is difficult, but so is anything worth doing in life,” he said.
Steve believes that communicators then decide not to measure, because it’s too difficult and they don’t have the time or resources. However, then they wonder why they don’t have the status that they would like in the organization.
“It’s because they don’t have the proof that what they do matters. But if it’s not worth measuring, it’s not worth doing,” he said.
An easier way
As someone who has worked in the communications industry for several years, the words of our industry experts really resonated with me. Are we really not measuring because of an instinctive dislike of math, a dislike that probably stems from school geometry classes? Are we really allowing ourselves to be intimidated into not measuring because we think we don’t know how to do it? Is this really one of the main barriers to successful measurement?
As a communicator, I relate to words over numbers; paper and conversation over technology. And I relate to the feeling of being intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of measurement and data.
I picture not knowing where to start. I imagine spending hours poring over spreadsheets, numbers and graphs, using complex technology platforms that I can’t relate to and am probably using incorrectly, and emerging with my head spinning and disappointing results that I don’t know what to do with.
It’s exhausting, and it makes me want to scream “there has to be an easier way!”
I think there is an easier way. In fact, I now realise that measurement is not nearly as complicated or as convoluted, and certainly not as thankless, as my initial reaction would have had me believe.
Seeing the results of the survey, I know I am not alone in having an aversion to terms like measurement and data. Of course, we all know that this reaction is counterproductive. We all know that we should measure, and that measurement will help us achieve so many things. Forgive me for sounding like a cult indoctrinator, but we all know that if we embrace it, measurement will be our friend.
So how do we remove this mental barrier to measurement, and where do we start?
Start small, and take it one step at a time. Remember that technology is there to make our lives easier and simpler, not to make them more complicated. So let it do the work for you.
Start by conducting a channel audit. Identify where you might need to update your technology with software that delivers the metrics and analytics that you need.
Then, set goals. Why are you sending your communications? What do you want to achieve? What do you want to change?
Finally, set some reasonable key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow you to accurately measure the extent to which you have achieved your goals. These could be very simple activities, such as checking unique page views, time on page, or video view counts and play rates, where applicable.
There is so much more to measure, but overcoming that initial barrier is a good start. Internal communications should belong at the heart of all our organizations. We can’t let a childhood dislike of mathematics stop it from getting there.