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How to make communications measurement effective

Do you find the debate on measuring communications too academic or out of reach for your budget? Here’s a take on making it simple and exploring what’s already being measured in your organisation.

One can wonder why the PR-business for so many years has been measured by sheer number of clippings and not taken a more serious approach.

There are three simple answers to this:

  1. The budgets of the PR-department are in most cases insufficient for taking on measurement in a larger scale.
  2. Lack of integration internally. Most organisations carry out tons of surveys that easily could reveal insights that would take communications measurement far, if done regularly.
  3. The goals of PR/communications can sometimes be very longterm and not as clear-cut as those of a marketing campaign and therefore more difficult to measure.

So why are we talking about measurement more than ever now? 

First of all, there is the general consciousness of justifying our work. Does the money you spend really matter? And second there is the disintegration of the old media landscape, where PR has been forced into new ways of working – for example in digital, paid content and owned platforms. And therefore measurement by sheer number of clippings – no matter how simplistic it has ever been – is just making less and less sense.

Are we scared into overcomplicating things?

Sadly it seems many PR-professionals has become obsessed with the simple justification, rather than taking a constructive approach to make communication more effective. And hence the debate is rapidly becoming very academical. So unless you have a degree in statistics and a lawyers nose for covering all possible aspects and maybe’s plus an unlimited budget to create surveys for, we can understand some would give up along the way. If it’s not just for the participation in the debate.

So let’s make it simple

In essence most communications strategies can be boiled down to just three imperatives. And hence there are three basic reasons to communicate:

  1. Reputation – you wish to change reputation, which can be anything from “just” being more visible to being recognised for X, Y, Z.
  2. Opinion – you wish to change someones opinion, which can be anything from supporting your case to endorsing your products.
  3. Money – obviously, you want to create or increase sales.

Of course these are often interlocked and can each be almost endlessly divided into subcategories. But broadly speaking these three would give you the guideline to set your targets and reasons to communicate – and therefore also your measuring points. This is where you initially can ask: What do people think of us? Would they support us? And would they buy from us?

And make measuring effective

Any measuring of communication should strive to make the communication more effective. Not just to justify it. So the next question is on who and how we should measure progress? And not the least how should we learn from our measurement and adjust our KPI’s accordingly?

Together with our partner Voxmeter we have taken inspiration in swing voter surveys and are suggesting to work with a simple threefold division of audiences:

  1. The interested – this is the group that know/has opinion about your brand and have a potential interest in engaging further. The goal to this group could be expanding it and/or change perception – eventually moving them from interested to ripe.
  2. The ripe – this group is potentially ready to engage, but need the last push to make a conversion/purchase. Here you should look at the reasons why they’re not making the final move. It is often revealed that obstacles are actually the smaller things, that are relatively easy to implement and/or communicate.
  3. The ambassadors – this group is already engaged for example as existing customers or members. And the target here is to turn them into ambassadors for your brand. Therefore the questions to ask is about, how you can keep them happy – and not the least how you can make it easier for them to be ambassadors.

Now what is really interesting is that most communication begin and stop at making the group of interested bigger. Yes, sales take over the ripe and even sometimes customer service  takes over the ambassadors. But in order to really create effective communication, one should look at the entire picture.

There are of course numerous models for measurement that potentially includes all groups. But we think that bringing the above thinking into your strategy work upfront, will make your work with communications and measurement more about being effective and less about mapping out and justifying.

To summarise:


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