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The Truth About Internal Communications and Measurement

Emma HanleyEmma Hanley·

Everyone in the industry knows it needs to happen but few are measuring the outcomes of our internal communications efforts. Fewer still are happy with their ability to extract useful information from what they are measuring. So let’s look at the facts.

Fact 1 – The number of internal communicators measuring activity declined in 2014.

In the 5th annual State of the Sector survey, the Gatehouse Group reported that the number of internal communicators that are not measuring the impact and success of campaigns has increased from 12% in 2013 to 18% in 2014.

Fact 2 – The successful use of measurement is low.

According to the 2014 Melcrum/Newsweaver ‘Use of Technology’ report, only 16% of internal communicators are satisfied with their ability to measure the effectiveness of their internal communications. For those who do measure, the three main methods used to assess impact are the employee engagement survey (74%), intranet analytics (55%) and social media metrics (25%) according to the State of the Sector report.

Fact 3 – Communicators are settling for what they can measure, not what they ought to measure.

The most common real-time metrics available to communicators are content popularity, followed by opens and clicks – but both of these are available to less than half of communicators. As an industry, we now need to move away from these more rudimentary metrics towards engagement metrics that allow us to see the number of employees that have seen and interacted with a key message across multiple channels and measure the resulting change in behavior or attitudes.

Fact 4 – Measurement is vital to getting a seat at the strategic table

What this means in real terms is that internal communications cannot be seen as a strategic player in the organization. The ability to demonstrate the impact of the activity, display a link between activity and business goals doesn’t exist. It can also mean that attempts to increase budget and resources for the department can suffer due to lack of clarity on the business case for Internal Communication.

From a purely practical perspective, the ability to make editorial decisions and resource allocations using incontrovertible data rather than personal preferences is lacking within the department.

The reason that measurement hasn’t become part of the day-to-day life of an internal communicator is simple and yet extremely complex. Those that don’t see the importance or value in measurement are typically communicators that see themselves as wordsmiths at heart. These communicators tend to identify more closely with storytellers rather than number crunchers and data analysts. I can completely understand that, I have a deep love for words (lollygagger is a particular favourite).

It has been said that storytelling helps bring dull facts and data to life, creating an emotional connection with a subject that a traditional news item, presentation or report would never succeed in doing. In truth this works both ways. As professional communicators, I urge you to love the numbers and words equally. Paint a vivid picture with statistics, bring the story to life with insights from meaningful data and get buy-in from peers and senior leaders using irrefutable facts.

For anyone who would like to start measuring, I have prepared a PowerPoint report containing some of the standard metrics we use to report on campaign success and activity. If you have any questions on the statistics in the slides or would value some help preparing your own report, please feel free to message me on LinkedIn or Tweet me at @chewitt52 or @Newsweaver_IC.


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