Monday, June 27, 2005

How To Measure Communication

Every business process has to be accountable, and that includes communication. Measurement helps you analyze your contribution to the organization's goals. If you want to be effective, follow these handy tips:

Be aware of the latest industry standards: experts in the field have put their heads together to publish guidelines for the profession. Going with your gut instinct might feel natural, but it can leave you blind sighted. The Institute for Public Relations makes current recommendations publicly available.

Advertising equivalency is taboo: don't use the old formula of counting column inches and multiplying them by the ad rate for a publication. That's an antiquated practice because it delivers a false number. By doing so, you're comparing your department against the advertising department - not the bottom line.

Clip counts and column inches are not research: don't fall into this trap. Unless the clips (regardless of length and distribution) impact attitudes, perception, sales or behavior, they are not making a real difference. Publicity directly tied to sales should advance the organization's business goals. When issuing a press release, insert a special link or code to product or service offerings. That way, you can actively track how many clicks or purchases PR generated. You can compare the number of sales contributed by the release against the number generated casually - a quantifiable measure executives will accept.

Analysis of messaging, positioning, issue identification are the norm: what you really want to verify is content. Were you key messages published? How many times? In what way was your organization positioned against the competition? Was the name merely mentioned, or was your organization acknowledged for its position on critical key business issues? Content analysis is essential.

Competitive analysis is mandatory: as good as you may think you look in the media, how's your competition doing? If you're getting more column inches, but they're getting targeted exposure that positions them to win in the marketplace, who is really ahead? This analysis will also identify weaknesses in your key messages - that's why it's a necessary reality check.

SOURCE: Katherine Delahaye Paine, KDPaine & Partners, LLC