There are myriad big-time consultants out there who can help you gather and measure information about your internal communications.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t make the case for hiring outside help, however, you can still make the most of metrics, says Cindy Crescenzo of Crescenzo Communications.
In fact, you must do so if you want to help your organization achieve its goals, she says in a Ragan Training session titled “Taking the Mystery Out of Measurement.”
“If it’s not worth measuring, why are we doing it?” Crescenzo says. “You’ve got to really ask yourself that question.”
In most organizations, the gut instinct is to create bad content. It’s stuffy and formulaic, and recycles tiresome jargon and acronyms. Yet it could be so much better.
“It’s such an exciting time to be a communicator, because we are in the age of storytelling,” Crescenzo says. “We are in the age of so many different communications tools at our disposal.”
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Here are some tips for digging deeper and measuring your communications.
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Surveys: Make the writing count.
Surveys provide concrete figures to help you prove your point and build your case that your organization should do better.
“They give you the hard numbers you need to really get executives to take notice, to trust you to do things differently,” Crescenzo says.
Make sure the questions you ask are clear, rather than murky and subject to misinterpretation. For example, don’t stuff two thoughts into a single yes/no question.
Do you understand the changes that will happen in your area and when they will happen?
Do you understand the changes in your area?
Do you know when they will happen?
Furthermore, keep it short and simple, and ask only about things you can change. Don’t give people a reason not to respond.
You can also sneak in quick calls for feedback at the end of online content, such as these:
- I would recommend this article to a colleague. Yes/No.
- This article helped me understand our new product line. Yes/No.
Focus groups: Figure out the ‘why.’
Focus groups help you dig beneath the numbers and collect quotes and anecdotes that illustrate the situation. You can ask people about something that is happening, what it is that they find confusing.
“It’s a great way to add the flavor and the personality behind your audience, to understand what makes them tick,” Crescenzo says.
These structured discussions are led by a moderator and should include eight to 12 people. Participants should have a general idea of what the discussion will be about, but they do not get a copy of questions. The time should run from 45 minutes to one hour.
Here are a few potential focus group questions that Crescenzo recommends:
- What do you like about this monthly print publication and why?
- Please offer an instance when you felt you weren’t getting the information you needed.
- Given that you’re not in front of a computer all day, what’s the best way to get information to you?
- Do you see video as a helpful way for employees to share best practices?
- If you had the opportunity to comment on articles on the intranet, would you feel comfortable doing so? Why or why not?
Executive interviews: Know your organization’s goals.
Executives help you find the necessary insights to tie your communications to the strategy and objectives of the business. “We’ve got to make sure everything we do helps the organization achieve its goal,” Crescenzo says.
To figure out what to measure within your organization, start with knowledge. Do people know the facts? Perceptions mean they might know something, but they don’t believe it.
“This is exactly where focus groups come into play,” Crescenzo says.
Behavior is an essential element to track. Do people’s actions reflect what they know and believe?
“Did we make them do something?” Crescenzo says. “Did we make them believe something different? Did we motivate them? Did we educate them in some way?”
Also weigh effectiveness. “How many people did you make aware of a communication piece?” she says. “How many people followed your call to action?”