In 2018 Annual Conference

By: Jessica Krueger – Treasure Coast Chapter (Twitter: @jessicakrueger/IG: @jessicakrueger)

Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow PRSA, Associate Professor, Kent State University


Michele spent three years working on a research team developing standards for measuring communications.

  • They researched literature review, international task force, Delphi study and discussions.
  • The handout outlines the final proposed standards & definitions for Internal Communication Measurements.

What is a measurement?

To sell measurement to senior management – you have to find trust. What does senior management care about?

How do we prove that investing time and research will benefit

  • Strategic Approach – baseline for measurement
  • Objectives – what do we need audiences to think, feel and or do to achieve business objectives?
  • Audiences – who do we interact with?
  • Messages – what do we need to discuss?
  • Methods – which tools will we use?

Steps of measurement:

  • Research – happens first
  • Measurement – happens during
  • Evaluations – happens after

Key takeaway: “Measure to improve, not to prove.”

What is a standard?– a standard is what you measure. It drives consistency.

A best practice is how you measure.

Why standards?

Common comparison, the Practice (YOU) wanted to have standards for measurement!

Defining the IC measurement:

After three years of research, 22 standards for internal communication measurements were created and organized into the following three categories:

  • Outtakes
  • Outcomes
  • Organizational impact

Outputs: how your resources are used and what you did with them

Outtakes: whether employees paid attention and understood or retained messages:

Outtake Standards:

  1. Awareness
  2. Knowledge – comprehension
  3. Understanding – how do they relate the info to their work “yes you can be aware but if you don’t understand than it won’t be useful”
  4. Relevance – what does it mean to me and why should I care?
  5. Retention of information

Measuring Outtakes:

  • Surveys
  • Metrics on social, shares, comments, suggestions
  • Content analysis of comments
  • Quality of feedback
  • Observation of behavior

After a few conversations from audience members regarding internal communication – the group consensus is that we NEED to have department collaboration.

  • There is definitely friction between HR and communications unless there is a communications person in HR. This goes back to leadership and getting the right people in HR and communications.
  • We need to work together on this. You need to have departments collaboration. They need to realize why its relevant to read and be included in communications.
  • In large companies, Team leaders should also be accountable to communicate with their staff.
  • Train managers to communicate.

Key Takeaway:Communication should become a part of the orientation process – explain to new employees that emails should be READ. It’s your responsibility to read them.

How do you measure your internal communications?

Audience examples: Newsletters, unique users, analytics, open rates, exit interviews, surveys, etc.

Challenges: Measurement and Evaluation

  • Expensive and time consuming
  • Long-term outcomes vs tactical outputs
  • Untangling the contributions of PR from other communication functions
  • Different metrics to measure success; challenge making comparisons among units and programs

Outcomes: Evidence of Changes to or Reinforcement of Opinions, Perceptions, Values and Culture.

Outcome Standards:

  1. Attitude
  2. Advocacy
  3. Authenticity
  4. Empowerment
  5. Collaboration
  6. Teamwork
  7. Discretionary effort
  8. Trust*
  9. Satisfaction
  10. Transparency
  11. Fairness

*Most individuals need to experience an inherent sense of trust in a n organization, its leaders and fellow workers in order to feel confident enough to work well collaboratively in team settings.

After trust, the three standards mentioned as most important by 20 percent of participants were Advocacy, Attitude and Empowerment.

Measuring Outcome Standards:

Surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, self-administered diaries, observation of behavior, power sharing, teaming, reduced complaints.

QUESTION:Is measuring individual “outcome” standard more actionable than a single catch phrase like “engagement”? — IT’S TOO BROAD!

Organizational Impact: Whether and How Internal Communication has Influenced Organizational Performance.

Organizational Impact Standards:

  1. Productivity
  2. Innovation
  3. Continuous improvement
  4. Reputation
  5. Employee retention
  6. Safety

THIS  is the path to ROI…..

Measuring Organizational Impact Standards:

  • Economic value-added analysis
  • Surveys
  • Performance reviews – create communication a part of their job review
  • Independent research studies
  • Incident rates

“It’s OK to provide incentives to take surveys as long as you can get genuine answers.”

Audience member question:Is there a right amount of questions for surveys to keep people engaged?- There are a lot of factors with this. Depends on level of interest and time (how much time will it take?) I recommend to develop survey and test it!

  • Did they feel overwhelmed? Did they not want to finish it? Etc.

Ways to Use Standards Now:

  • Review/sort what you have been asking to date
  • Hold employee focus groups to discuss, id standards that might need attention/dipstick those standards only
  • Share with leadership and discuss which standards might be most important to them
  • Pilot test with a group division/location

The more we can standardize our profession, the more we can solidify our importance within our organization.

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