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Measuring Communications…

Reflecting on a day at Katie Payne’s measurement conference, communicators remain overly focused on measuring outputs versus outcomes. A few of the other speakers also touched on this. During my brief presentation I attempted to get at a new way of considering communications measurement (without slides). I think I jumbled a few of my phrases so here goes a quick clarification.

Measurement needs to address four quadrants:

Quadrant One (top left):- Business Requirements & Results. What are the business results required from the program or campaign? What is critical to quality (CTQs) and who are the Suppliers? (for you sigma fanatics).

Quadrant Two (top right):- Operations. This spans the entirety of the communications planning process. From planning through strategy to ideation and tactics. You will also want to measure operating performance – hours of work against programs, training hours, employee retention. I’d also track your cadence – are you able to bring cadence to the activities that underpin the function. While you need to use Sigma throughout the entire process it is especially important for quadrant one and two. Go get a black belt.

Quadrant Three (bottom right):- Outputs. Here you are measuring all tactical outputs from programs. This is the stuff you do. it might include news releases, media calls, press conferences, media tours, web hits, video streams, editorial boards, etc. You also want to measure the outputs from those tactics. Like – opportunities to see (OTS) key messages and brands, articles, photos used, quotes, media recommendations, analyst quotes. The list in both categories is long and will vary dramatically by industry. We measure about 20 categories here.

Quadrant Four (bottom left):- Outcomes. Simply put, did you change, inform and stimulate minds? Doing both drives your business outcomes. There should be a correlation between Q3 and Q4. The link is that between thinking and action. I like to measure this through ARC. Awareness, Recommendation, and Consideration. Are you aware of the company, brand, product or service? Is it being recommended to you – or – would you recommend it? And, are you considering a purchase – or, even if recommended would you consider the company given your values?

All kinds of buzzwords are used by communicators and marketers in quadrant four. Words like Reputation Management, Brand Awareness, Brand Experience. Blah, blah, blah. At Sun we’ve simplified it to one word – Recommend. Are we being recommended by media, analysts, influencers and most importantly customers? I love the idea of us all be accountable to a single metric.

Ideally you will measure the communications cycle through these interrelated quadrants. The challenge most communicators face is getting trapped in the left two quadrants. The world of spin and hype. High performance organizations operate across all four quadrants. I saw one present at the conference – Southwest Airlines. They directly measure the impact of news on web traffic, ticket sales and attitudinal shifts. Really smart stuff and I suspect they are all really valued by their leadership team.

Thanks Katie for a great conference and a fun lobster fest. I’ll be back for both next year.

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