Communication has been historically seen as a qualitative undertaking, hence it is often asked: ‘why quantify’ and ‘what are some the strategies of quantification’? Several justifications exist for the measurement and evaluation of communication campaigns, these include, but are not limited to, demonstration of value, accountability and effective management, though not necessarily in that order.
Demonstration of value
This is done by way of measuring, the purpose of measuring, while often overlooked after the excitement has subsided, is essential to demonstration of value. Measuring a communication campaign is essentially to keep one’s finger on the pulse of the campaign. One great example is using and measuring social listening. Do this and you will gain a competitive advantage to be in a position to present clients with recommendations and strategies grounded in research collated by analysing millions of soundbites, micro-blogging and social conversations.
Not that this needs explaining, but this is a responsibility that large corporations take seriously. At the heart of accountability is ethics and economics. A track record of accountability encourages trust in one’s ability to deliver desired outcomes, which stimulates investment of confidence and capital. Accountability in communication campaigns or even routine internal communication, tends to be manageable in smaller companies, problems tend to arise when scale is involved as large organisations create situations ripe for decentralisation of autonomy which lends itself to ‘buck-passing.’
Communicators are best served when they follow the disciplines of their counterparts in human resources (HR), finance and operations. This should be done despite the fluidity and unpredictability involved in the discipline. When a communication campaign is strategically planned and managed, the objectives, goals and tactics are more clearly defined and actionable. All communication practitioners are aware that even the best laid plans can change, that is an occupational hazard. However, it is less likely that plans can be completely derailed when the strategies are sound, grounded in research and insight and is responsive to the environment for which they are planned.
So yes, measurement matters...
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