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Measurement and excellence in communication

As one of the judges for the CIPR Excellence Award for internal communication, I was very impressed with the case studies that made it to the short list. The winner, Torbay Council, transformed a low level of engagement through low cost, effective, internal communication:

In 2009 only 11% of Torbay Council staff felt that morale was good. As a result, an internal communications function was set up from scratch with limited budget and minimal resources. Nicola Moorhouse and her colleagues should be immensely proud of the work they have done to transform the way employees engage with the council. Nicola has introduced an engaging approach, which, through involving employees at every stage, has led to an incredible increase in morale to 68%!

It’s always good to have a measure to demonstrate the impact of communication. However, the chair of CIPR Excellence Awards judges highlighted that this still remains an issue in many of the entries submitted.

With this in mind, I attended the International Association of Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) summit in Lisbon last week. I met lots of interesting people representing agencies that measure the impact of communication for clients. As far as I could tell, delegates were overwhelmingly working in the field of external communication measurement. Three themes emerged from the summit:

– Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit

– Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement

– Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs

The same points could equally apply to internal communication. In my experience in talking to hundreds of internal communication practitioners who have studied CIPR qualifications, the inclusion of measurement in plans is quite rare. Standards for internal communication measurement do exist, though they are perhaps outdated, particularly in relation to measuring internal social media and linkages to employee engagement. When it comes to education, CIPR Internal Communication qualifications do include a focus on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results.

My Phd thesis is focused on the measurement of internal communication, so it has been interesting to understand issues in the external communication measurement world in more depth. The aim of the research is to test a new internal communication measurement tool being developed by Dr. Mary Welch at the University of Central Lancashire that could ultimately become a robust standard for the industry that is the basis for sound planning.

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