Focusing on internal comms strategy

My morning was accompanied by a healthy dose of internal communication strategy as I attended the Surveys, Sentiment and Strategy measurement summit in London today.

guy bailey

Guy Bailey from the Home Office

The event was hosted by the Inside group of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), I am Deputy of the committee. It’s the specialist group for IC professionals – and a friendly bunch of people too.

There were around 45 IC pros gathered at CIPR HQ in London and we looked at many aspects including how does measurement drive strategy, how do you measure internal social media and its impact on communication strategy plus how do you measure engagement and evaluate just how effective internal communication is?

I liked the fact there were speakers I’d not heard before, fresh case studies are always good! This was the second measurement summit CIPR Inside has put on and it was well worth attending (disclosure: I was invited to attend and didn’t pay for a ticket – I always highlight when this is the case).

Last year’s summit resulted in the excellent measurement matrix under then-chair Kevin Ruck @academykev. If you’ve not seen the measurement matrix before, do take a look as it’s a resource that has been created to steer IC pros towards measurement success. It’s a good introduction if this is a new topic for you.

Measurement in practice
The focus of today was measurement in practice with case studies and practical experience and was chaired by current CIPR Inside chair James Harkness.

Employee Communications Manager at Essex County Council Billy Hamilton has written his thoughts about today as a guest article for my blog, so I am just going to give you a taster of what was discussed and will publish his article in the next 24 hours.

Speakers included Kevin talking about the research he’s been doing for his PhD. I’d love to write a lot on this, so will have a chat with him to work out the best way of doing that and the timing, rather than mention it in detail here now.

Aspects he spoke about included correlation analysis and the strength of understanding aspects of communication alongside aspects of employee engagement. I know lots of my readers have completed or are going through the PR Academy IC courses, of which Kevin is a co-founder of the academy, and it was good to hear first hand some of the work he has been doing.

Jimmy Huang from Warwick Business School looked at analysing internal social media and links to internal communication strategy. He explained the findings from his research at three telecommunication companies. I really enjoyed Jimmy’s presentation and his explanations of rhetoric (the art of influence and persuasion) and implications for IC strategy. I’ve asked CIPR for the slides, so will update this article to include the whole context.

He also talked about reach vs richness, univocality vs multivocality (this was in relation to employee voice – check out this social media and employee voice report from CIPD and previous article by me for more an intro to this area), plus consumption vs co-production.


Next up was Guy Bailey from the Home Office who showed us the dashboard he has developed to measure engagement levels and evaluate the effectiveness of internal communication channels. I was left feeling like I wanted to hear more from Guy and to get more detail about what they have been doing.

What struck me about his approach was the level of detail and the direct correlation between internal and external factors on engagement levels. I hadn’t seen such a comprehensive and detailed analysis shared in that way and it was good to hear Guy’s enthusiasm for crunching the numbers and how this directly related to ‘proving the worth of IC’ and underpinning everything the Home Office is trying to achieve.

I’ve written and Tweeted many times about the importance of linking comms activity to business strategy, and Guy’s presentation reflected that importance and added some pretty chunky numbers into the equation too.


Key takeaways for me from Guy’s presentation were the importance of aligning your strategic intents with your IC strategy and “you can be innovative in your IC strategy, but do approach it as a long-term investment.”

Simon Elliott from BP was up next and he guided us through a rigorous way of measuring employee engagement plus short-term ways to track employee engagement.

BP built their own survey tool, called Survey Wizard to enable them to centralise all surveys as they found lots of employees were constantly wanting to survey their workforce and this enabled them to have a helicopter view of what was happening. Smart stuff.

I’ve worked in places where a frequent topic up for debate is ‘let’s add that as a question to the employee survey’ and I’ve seen people displaying signs of survey fatigue as employees are pumped for information constantly with every survey deemed as business critical. In my experience, this often results in low response rates on the annual employee survey as employees are all surveyed out.

Simon explained how every question that is asked has to provide a perspective and measure. He said: “Communication effectiveness and employee experience affects understanding, confidence, trust and action.”

He said that the focus for BP is “to understand how engaged employees are ‘in important matters’ (defined as what’s important to BP at certain points in time), what’s the big question you’re trying to answer with measurement and to what extent does this build and sustain performance?”

The final speaker was Ghassan Karian of Karian and Box, who was concentrating on using measurement to support business performance. In a whirlwind presentation, Ghassan looked at using research “to determine the critical factors which drive engagement and how you make the link between engagement metrics and business performance.”

You can see more content from today below as I’ve created a Storify of all the Tweets. As mentioned, I’ll update this article with the slides as soon as I have them (now below) and do look out for a write up from Billy Hamilton too.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

45 comms pros met at CIPR headquarters on 23 July 2013 for a measurement summit by CIPR Inside #icsummit13

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