Tackling Myth #4: we should only measure things at the end of the financial year
Now that we’ve hit June (2016 is flying by!), I’m sure you would’ve heard a lot of end of financial year talk already. Most businesses would be looking at their ‘to do’ list now as the clock ticks down to the start of the new financial year.
For most Communication/PR professionals, the end of the financial year usually equates to a flurry of activity to deliver another year’s annual report complete with a new look, new achievements and new numbers. As you can imagine, it’s a stressful time and considering those in these industries are not traditionally best friends with numbers, a lot of the Communication/PR professionals I’ve worked with in the past, tend to dread this period.
While a comprehensive annual report is being worked up, departments are also generally focusing on getting their house in order to get ready for what’s to come and to start planning the future metrics likely to attest to their performance. Ever thought about how your organisation’s Communication/PR compares to others?
After three decades of working with seasoned professionals in these fields, I can tell you that an orderly house:
- Is clear about the organisation’s priorities for the coming year and the role of Communication/PR in achieving them. Is increased profitability a priority? Or perhaps an increase in employee engagement or a reduction in the resources required for managing crises is more of a focus. Remember, Business Strategy and Communication/PR Strategy should always go hand-in-hand.
- Understands what resources are available to meet expectations. I am astounded by the number of organisations I see that don’t have a formal budget for Communication/PR, relegated to treatment as expenses or cost centres. No wonder our value is repeatedly questioned by management and colleagues!
- Has a grasp on what day-to-day infrastructure is essential to keep the lines of communication open between their organisation and their audience. Websites, town hall meetings, direct/indirect channels that keep those corporate conversations going… they’re all in the mix. Consider how each is performing and if you don’t know, look at what is missing in your method of analysis and think about what you can do now so you can gain a better understanding in this area next year.
- Think about and define what success this time next year looks like. Make sure you know how you’ll be able to assess whether any goals set have been achieved. Some of the most common goals include: will the cost of recruiting and attracting new graduates decrease because of the communication campaign planned? Will employees be more engaged and accountable because they have a better understanding of your organisation’s strategic direction and priorities? Will a major project expansion occur because the community affected by it are willing to declare and show their support because they understand and accept its social and economic value?
Instead of measuring and evaluating a Comm/PR department annually, you really need to track, evaluate and measure progress on a monthly basis. Otherwise, you’ll blink and six months would have flown by without you knowing that one of your department’s key areas may not be performing as it should. By then, it’s too late to see if changes actually have any impact on the results you’re seeing.
Whatever the drivers, now is the time to explore the current financial year as well as the new financial year we’re entering into. Explore success and put a clear target on it. Think of how an Olympic athlete works – they envision success and then channel everything and all of the resources available to them, into achieving it.
If you’re open to exploring new ways to measure and evaluate your organisation’s Communication/PR performance, consider learning more about The Communication Dividend. This user-friendly tool has been made by Communication/PR professionals for Communication/PR professionals and assists these departments in being more accountable. I’ve seen how The Communication Dividend has transformed organisations thanks to its capacity to describe the ultimate value and contribution of communication.
As they say, all good things must come to an end and while we haven’t touched on every myth that taunts the Communication/PR sector, we have looked at four of the most common I’ve seen again and again over the last 30 years.
Do you have a Communication/PR measurement myth you’d like busted? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
By Deb Camden