Myth Busted - Equal Measures - Communication Dividend

Myth #2 busted: all measures are equal

June 14, 2016
That headline might have you confused. I can hear the question that immediately came to mind when you saw that sentence: aren’t all measures equal?

Those of us who love numbers, like to quote this line quite a bit: “the numbers don’t lie.” And that’s true, numbers don’t lie but on their own, you’ll find they’re unlikely to offer as much value or insight as they could if you gave them context.

I’m visualising some of you, my Communication/PR counterparts, letting out a groan, your spirit sinking more and more with every word. If you read my last post, chances are, you’re feeling more excited about the thought of measurement and evaluation than you ever have before. Now, you might be thinking that it’s a little more complicated than you first thought.

Once you’ve digested the fact that measurement and evaluation have the potential to boost your career and improve your department’s accountability enormously, you need to dig deeper. Basically, I’m asking you to summon your inner Sherlock Holmes and uncover what lies beneath a simple number or metric.

Over the course of my journey through the world of metrics and KPIs, I’ve found the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely) theory to be priceless. Why? Simply because the best measures, are just that: smart. As is usually the case, when explaining this to people, I find a working example the best way to go in terms of outlining what I mean in a way that’s easy to understand.

Often, when chatting to organisational decision makers about how The Communication Dividend can help their Communication/PR teams to be more accountable and transparent, I’ll be asked a question or two about social media. From what I’ve seen in the workplace, Facebook continues to be seen as accessible and is the most easily understood of all social media channels (with Instagram snapping at its heels). Let’s take a look at what is a common discussion when I visit organisations.

CEO: My organisation’s Facebook page has 500 followers. Is that a good number?

My reply: Who knows?

Yes, as you’d expect, the facial expression that immediately comes my way after that answer is one of confusion. The 500 followers on their own mean little. Are these followers engaged? Have they visited the page once, hit Follow and never returned? Here’s a different way to say something similar but with far greater meaning:

CEO: We have 500 followers on our Facebook page and we’re aiming to double our following to 1,000 within the next 12 months as a benchmark against our main competitor who has 1,500 followers.

In the above example, one metric has been properly outlined and we’re on a path towards a far more exciting metric and an even more exciting communication challenge.

When it comes to measuring communication, I like to draw upon what I call, the awesome foursome:

  1. Inputs: whatever resources we’re using to carry out the function of communication. There should be a focus on ensuring these resources are used efficiently.
  2. Outputs: the activities we create and produce. In addition to a focus on efficiency, we also need to concentrate on quality.
  3. Outcomes: this relates to the desired change in our audience and is all about being effective.
  4. Communication Dividend: this one is my own concept. It’s the new way I use to describe the ultimate value and contribution of communication. It is carried out in a way that our managerial counterparts understand and respect, representing the sum total of the improvement in business results achieved through communication.

For so long, I’ve heard people in the workplace referring to the fact that all measures are equal. You’ve read here why they aren’t and for all the right reasons too! In my next blog, I’ll be looking at what can make organisational decision makers sweat: the belief that measurement is expensive without always being useful to an organisation.

If you’re keen to learn more about The Communication Dividend, get in touch and our team will get back to you.

By Deb Camden