It’s 2017 and internal comms still has a credibility problem – too often it’s marginalised in favour of ‘sexier’ comms; Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising…even Social Media.
To really prove IC’s worth, we need evidence to back it up. Hard, empirical data that proves IC’s impact.
For that, we need to turn to measurement.
Measuring comms is notoriously difficult, bordering on impossible. But it’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have.
The foundation to rock-solid measurement is to identify and agree your communication objectives. Without objectives, everything else is pointless.
The problem with objectives is that, too often, IC professionals fixate on outputs rather than outcomes.
What is an output?
An output is an easy-to-distinguish, tangible communication result — think email interactions, pageviews etc.
What is an outcome?
An outcome is something more subjective — think behavioural changes, corporate culture shifts etc.
It’s easy to see why IC professionals choose to focus on outputs, they’re inherently easier.
Think about how easy it is to share intranet statistics that show thousands of colleagues visited a certain page and stayed on it for a set amount of time – but does this really tell you if they absorbed the information?
Will they change their behaviour after reading the content? The real value of IC lies in its ability to perform ‘outcomes’.
So, how do you begin to measure ‘outcomes’? Well, once you’ve identified your communication objectives, you need to be able to turn outcomes into measurable data – either quantitative (numbers) or qualitative (words).
For example, your company has a new process that all staff need to use. You produce a printed leaflet, posters for public spaces, a company-wide email and an intranet story.
But how do we find out if employees have actually changed their behaviour as a result of the comms activity?
Let’s split it into quantitative measures:
? How many copies of the printed material were picked up?
? How many people opened the company-wide email?
? What were the statistics for the intranet story for the duration of the campaign?
? Line managers to supply numbers of staff adhering to new process.
And now qualitative measures:
? Ask a focus group of colleagues how effective the comms were for them. Did they pick up a leaflet? See a poster? Read the email, or intranet story?
? Ask the focus group if they understood the message of the comms. Was it clear?
? Ask the focus group if they have now started using the new process. If they have, what were the contributing factors?
It’s only by taking the results of all of the above together that we can start to paint a detailed picture of the ‘outcome’ – did employees change their behaviour? And why did they (or didn’t they) change their behaviour?
The beauty of this approach for IC professionals is that it not only proves your impact on the business, but helps you implement better comms campaigns in the future. Win/win.