How do you measure your internal communication?
Do you create a measurement report? If so, what’s in it?
If you’ve never created a measurement report, what would you put in one?
This is the topic up for discussion in today’s Candid Comms podcast episode.
I’ve looked at how to create a monthly IC measurement report including:
- Why measure your IC
- What and how should you measure
- What format should it be in
- What does good look like
- What actions can you take today to measure your internal communication.
The episode has just been published and is available to listen to now. You can find the Candid Comms podcast on your favourite player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean. Or you can listen below.
Do let me know what resonates with you from this episode. You can find me online @AllThingsIC on Twitter or @rachelallthingsic on Instagram.
About Candid Comms
The Candid Comms podcast launched in January 2021. It is a weekly show designed to connect internal communication professionals to the advice and guidance, to help you thrive in your role.
Don’t forget to rate, review and follow, so other Comms pros can benefit too.
Thank you to my Producer, Debbie West of Seren Creative.
Transcript for this episode
You’re listening to the Candid Comms Podcast with Rachel Miller. Join me every week for practical advice and inspirational ideas to help you focus on all things Internal Communication related.
Hello and welcome to the show. In this week’s episode, you and I are going to be focusing on how to create a measurement report, and you will leave with one thing to know, one thing to do, and one thing to think about. Are you ready? Let’s get started. Have you been asked to create a measurement report for your Internal Communication? Or maybe you have one already, but you’re not quite sure that it’s good enough and you want to give it a bit of an overhaul?
I’m really excited for you because as a result of listening to this episode, you will much clearer idea of exactly how to do that. Now, the first thing for us to know is to think about the format of your measurement report. If your organisation communicates in Excel sheets, then that’s what you’re going to use. Or maybe if everything is always a paper to the board and everything is on Word or perhaps in PowerPoint, then that’s what you’ll need to use. There isn’t a hard and fast rule in terms of what does a perfect measurement report look like.
It will very much be determined by the way that your organisation communicates. What I want you to be mindful of is who is the intended audience for this report. Now through this episode, I’m going to be saying monthly measurement report, but your cadence, your rhythm may be different. You may report what you’re doing quarterly or maybe even weekly. So just stick with me. If I say monthly, translate that for whatever rhythm that you have inside your organisation.
But what is true regardless of the rhythm in terms of how you communicate and how you measure is your need to be recording what you are doing on a weekly, if not daily basis. Why? Well, quite frankly, comms friends, if get to a monthly measurement report and you get to the day where you need to gather the data and you haven’t been capturing as you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing, trust me, it makes your life a lot harder. Your future self will thank you if you get into a really great habit of capturing what you are doing.
Then therefore, it makes measurement a lot easier. We’re going to stick with monthly measurement rapport for the purpose of this episode. Something you need to know is not only who it’s intended for, so whether it’s for your board or maybe it’s for your director of Internal Communication, but what are they going to do with it. Now, I get to see a lot of measurement reports in my role or things that I see. I see them on behalf of clients. They share measurement reports with me. Now, I’ve seen some fantastic ones and I’ve also seen some not so great ones.
What stands out for me when I look at a measurement report, there’s a number of criteria in my head, and I’ll share those with you. What I want to look at is I want to know what is important to the business in this period of time. We’ll stick with monthly. What was going on in the business in that month? What were the business priorities? What was the business strategy?
If, for example, a new product or service was being rolled out in the business at that time for that period, so that month, for example, then that’s a really important filter for me to look through for this measurement report. I should be able to see there should be a correlation between this is what was important in terms of the business at that point in time. This is what was going on. A new leader was being introduced. A new product and service was being introduced, or maybe we were returning to our place of work.
Whatever it is, it needs to be in there because its context enables me to look at a measurement report. Now, particularly if you are in times of crisis, the best laid plans may not stack up because there’s a crisis going on. You may have said, “We’ll publish this many stories and do these particular events and these particular things,” but then a crisis happened. All your plans were scuppered. That needs to be in there.
If I’m looking at a measurement report and I can see that you said you’d do X amount of stories and you’ve done Y amount, but I don’t know why, I can’t possibly look at that report and craft a meaningful picture from the data. And that’s what you need to know. However you’re reporting, be it in Excel, be it in PowerPoint, be it in Sheets, whatever you are using, whatever the methodology is, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you can craft a meaningful picture from that data, the story of that period.
In terms of what good looks like for me when I’m looking at a measurement report is it needs to be giving me a really clear picture of whether it’s good or bad. Simple as that. Just seeing a list of stories, for example, tells me nothing. If I look at a long list of stories and I’ve seen this in a client’s measurement report where I opened it and it listed every single story they’ve published on the internet over the past four weeks, and I looked at it and I thought, this doesn’t tell me anything.
It shows me that they’re being productive, they’re being busy, which great. But what I want to know is are they busy on the right things? There’s this whole long list of stories, but were they the topics that you intended? How did that align with the business strategy? Is it more or less than you intended to do? Some teams use RAG status, red, amber, green status. I can look at a page and it would tell me that. They might say something like, “We plan to do three stories on our internet a week, for example, over this month.”
And actually what we ended up doing was five stories a week. We ended up doing more. They’ll give that a status, red, amber, or green, in terms of is that good or not and why not. Having context is really important. If one of the reasons you’re creating a monthly measurement report is because you want to prove that you don’t have enough resource, for example, then I would make sure the methodology for the way I’m reporting is aligned with the business priorities.
I want to be able to see how is an internal communicator or an internal team prioritizing its work. This is where understanding what the business priorities are is super important. I’m able to look at it and say, “These are all the things that they’ve done. They’ve done this many events or this many stories or this many campaigns. And is this more or less than what they plan to do? What’s the context? What else was going on in the York organisation at the same time?”
Now, something that I rarely see, and I’m always really, really pleased to see it when it does occur, which isn’t very often, is what have you said no to over the past month. That tells me about standards and Internal Communication. That helps me understand as an person looking in it, helps me understand the thinking process behind the way the Internal Communication happens inside the organisation. I want to be able to see what an internal comms team are prioritising, and hopefully it’s aligned with what the business is prioritising.
What are you saying no to, or what are you pushing out until next month? When I look at a measurement report, there should be a really healthy mix in terms of methods. It should be your numbers, your quantitative feedback, so numbers, stats, clicks, shares, likes, and then the color behind it as well, the gold dust, the qualitative feedback. This is where the good stuff happens for internal comms. It adds color. It adds vibrancy.
It helps you understand what is or isn’t working through the minds of your employees, through their words, through their questions that they may be sending in, through their feedback. It may even be rumors in there. Using the data that you have about the way your employees are thinking inside your organisation, you’re going beyond the stats. You’re diving in deeper.
The way you get that is through conversations with comms champions, through conversations with your stakeholders or your business partners, or maybe queries that come in to a mailbox, or maybe it’s feedback from the people that you work, with people managers, for example. Whatever that looks like. If you need to anonymize them, anonymize them. But I want to see that. I want to see a really healthy mix of stats and numbers, and then comments. It helps to me understand the fuller picture. You need to craft a meaningful story from the data.
This is what we did. Is it better or worse than expected? What was going on in the organisation at the same time? What impact did that have on our Internal Communication? And what are we going to do differently next month? I mean, that’s a pretty great structure right there. This is what we plan to do. This is what we actually did. This is what we think about it. This is what we’re going to do differently next month. Have a look at your heading.
Something I want you to know is whether the structure of your monthly measurement report is working hard enough for you. Could you guide someone through your measurement report and tell the story of your work? Or is it simply a list of stories or a list of stats and there’s no conclusions that have been drawn? The next part of our conversation today is exactly that. I want you to be able to draw conclusions. This is what I want you to do.
When you’re looking at your monthly measurement report and you’re looking at your outputs, your stories, and you’re thinking about your outcomes, your so what, so what’s happened as a result of, so what hasn’t happened as a result of what we focused on, what are the conclusions? What are you going to do differently over the next month? Were you pleased with what happened? Were you not pleased? Sometimes I like to include a SWOT analysis here. I’ll include this in the show notes, AllThingsIC.com/podcast for this episode.
But it’s very simply listing out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from this month. Looking back and being really objective here. Looking back, what were the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats this month? Another way to think about it is, what got in our way? These are the conclusions that we’re drawing. What were the barriers? Was it that we didn’t have a leader who was confident enough to have the change communication briefing that they needed to have? They weren’t great in communicating with our employees.
Or maybe we hoped that our intranet would go live this month and it didn’t. So as a result, it’s impacted on our channels. Whatever that might be. What are the conclusions that you are drawing? What is it that didn’t go so well from your perspective as an internal communicator or Internal Communications team?And then the conclusion is what we’re going to do differently next month. This bit is so often missing. A really good measurement report for me is one that not only looked back, but looks forward.
A measurement report that looks forward helps me see that the internal comms team is focused on constantly improving and developing their work. It helps me understand, particularly in my role as a third party, as a consultant, having an analysis, looking at what are they doing and what did they set out to achieve and have they done it, I want to see what you’ve learned. I want to see what you’re going to do differently. Now, this is where really understanding who this report is intended for is important.
If this report is intended for a budget holder, or maybe it’s someone who you want to positively influence, be that your CEO perhaps or director perhaps, then surely I think when you’re creating your measurement report and you’re looking back at what you’ve done, and maybe you’re justifying why you spent extra money, or maybe you are explaining why things didn’t go so well, whatever the situation that you find yourself in, what about next month? What is it that’s going to be important to you?
What is it that you are going to prioritize as a team, because you understand what the business priorities are for the next month? I love seeing that. Give me a flavor of what to expect in the next measurement report. Tell me what it is that you intend to do. I use an intentions framework a lot within my work and it’s, what do you want employees to do say, think, feel? Sometimes I add the word differently, as a result of our Internal Communication and how do we want or need them to behave.
I’ll include the visual of that in the show notes at AllThingsIC.com/podcast in the show notes for this episode. But I like to set my intentions and you can do that within your monthly measurement report. You can say, “For next month given what we know about this month, given what we know about what’s coming up next month, here are our intentions. This is what we want to do, say, think, feel differently as a result of our Internal Communication and here’s how we need or want employees to behave.” Now, you can focus it on whatever you want to.
Some people use know, feel, do, think, feel, act. For 2021 and 2022 particularly, we need to be focusing on the emotions, the feeling side of our Internal Communication. If you’re new looking at your monthly measurement report and it’s a whole list of numbers, don’t worry. There is definitely a way to improve by thinking about the emotions, thinking about the emotional connection that you want to make through your Internal Communication.
And then once you’ve set that intention, a way to calculate that and to report that could be things like sentiment analysis, for example. If you know you’ve set your intention around how you want people to be feeling about certain things, and you’re looking for evidence, and you’re gathering insight through your reporting methods, then have a look at the sentiment.
If you know you want people to be feeling proud of this new product and service that you’re launching, for example, then that will give you a good filter to look through for next month and beyond in terms of what are people currently saying about this particular product or service or whatever it is that you’re rolling out? And what do you want to be saying in the future? I like to see comms teams working out loud in their measurement reports. This should be a live, breathing working document.
Simply reporting stats that have no context that have no action behind them, does you and everyone else a disservice. It’s super important that as professional communicators, we are acting with integrity. We are acting in a professional way. There is no say-do gap between what we’re doing. If we’re telling everybody else about the importance of measuring what they’re doing, and if we’re helping our leaders think about the way they come across, we need to do the same.
Your measurement report is a health check in terms of how you are doing as a team and as an individual. So make sure it works really hard for you. We’re going to take a short break. And when we come back, I will leave you with one thing to think about.
Welcome back. The final thing to share with you today is one thing to think about. And in a nutshell, it is listening. There’s two strands here that I want to share with you. The first is I want to see from your monthly measurement report that you are truly listening to your employees. When you’re looking at what you’re doing as a function, are you really, truly actively listening and acting on feedback that you get from employees?
If, for example, one of your channels is that you’re doing a town hall and people are not dialing in if it’s online or they’re not attending if it’s in person, what are you doing about that? If you are spending time, money, and effort month in, month out or quarter in, quarter out, whatever that rhythm looks like, if you are investing time, money, and effort in that channel and you have a sense that this really isn’t working for you, how are you demonstrating that through your monthly measurement report?
How are you actively listening to feedback? How are you going out and seeking feedback? Now, I know it feels like that’s another pressure and another added thing for us to do. But the reason that’s important is because we need to be constantly listening to our workforce, because we’re not just doing town halls because we like doing town halls. I mean, you might be, but ideally we’re doing it to ensure our employees have a shared understanding and shared meaning of what’s important to the organisation and they can align their efforts against it.
They’re listening to stories from their peers, and they’re having a sense, a collective sense, of belonging to our organisation. Now, if nobody’s showing up or the numbers are dropping every single time it’s being held, what are you doing about that? Whose problem is that? Is it because the topics aren’t right? Is it because the speakers aren’t great? Is it because it’s held at school pickup time and therefore some of our workforce can’t attend? What’s the reason? What’s the reason behind those numbers dropping? You need to know that.
Your measurement report is a great place to demonstrate the fact that you are listening. And even better than that, you’re listening and you’re making good decisions. It can often feel quite scary, let’s be really honest, to make changes to channels, particularly ones that are well-established. But if you’ve got great things in place like your channels matrix, I’ll include an example in the show notes, where you can really clearly articulate the purpose of that channel, if you’re able to demonstrate that that’s not working and people aren’t turning up, you need to make adjustments.
It’s not good enough just to say, “Well, no one’s attending.” Well, why not? It’s really important to know. The second thing in terms of listening is understanding industry evidence. If you feel like your channels aren’t working in the right way this month and things haven’t gone well and you feel like maybe they’re a bit stale and maybe you need a new one, or maybe you feel like what you’re doing isn’t quite right, then what are other people doing? What are your peers doing?
Is the way that you’re reporting or the way the Internal Communication is happening inside your organisation, is it typical? Is it that you have loads of channels and most people have less channels? Is it that you don’t have enough channels and, therefore, you can’t really measure how Internal Communication is or isn’t happening because it’s either in closed communities that you are not part of, or you’re a very new organisation and it hasn’t really been a focus before?
Trying to pull together a monthly measurement report is super difficult because you don’t have visibility and access to all the conversation spaces and places where communication happens. Industry evidence comes through a variety of different formats. We are spoiled for choice in the wonderful world of Internal Communication. I’ve been writing my blog for nearly 13 years now and there’s 1,600 articles on there on all things Internal Communication related.
I very regularly share stories and insights from other internal communicators who share what they’re doing, who help us peek under the hood of their organisation. I’m yet to an internal communicator who isn’t willing to share their experience with their peers. If you’re stuck with something, if you feel like something is not working in your organisation when it comes to internal comms, I guarantee you, if you ask for help, there will be other communities of people out there who are willing and are able to help you.
I’ll share a list in the show notes (above) in terms of just some of the communities of communicators that I’m aware of around the globe. Industry evidence also includes things like state of the sector type surveys, and there’s loads of those every single year. We have from organisations like the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, CIPR, the Institute of Internal Communication, IoIC, VMA Group, who are a recruiter. There’s also the Gatehouse Gallagher State of the Sector survey.
Oh my goodness! There are so many reports out there. If you’re feeling stuck, if you’re trying to measure and you’re trying to benchmark, then fill your boots with any one of those. I’ve featured all of those on my website over the years, on my blog. What I find really interesting reading those sorts of reports, particularly the Gatehouse Gallagher one, which I think is in its like 21st year or 22nd year now, it’s been going forever, but the good thing there for me is people are answering questions in terms of the number of channels they have or the type of budget that they have.
It helps you get a sense of, what are other people doing? How big is their team? How much are they spending? Just to give you a bit of a sense and a bit of a perspective in terms what your peers are doing. Through your monthly measurement report, for example, it may well be that you’ve just wrapped a campaign, or it may be that you’ve decided to retire a particular channel and you may feel the need to justify your decision-making or your recommendation that you’re making to the board or whoever’s going to see this measurement report.
I encourage you to include industry evidence if you’re looking to benchmark, because it demonstrates to me you’re not only just listening inside the organisation, but as a professional communicator or a team of professional communicators, you’re looking to the outside world too. I rarely see that in measurement reports. And if I do, I’m always super impressed. And let’s be honest, it’s not hard to do. You are spoiled for choice. There’s a lot of data out there. It’s just understanding what resonates for you. What can you draw on?
What will help strengthen your case or your argument or your position inside your organisation if you’re asking for more resource or more budget, for example? Your measurement report is your working out loud. It’s showing your workings out. It’s helping the organisation understand what you’re focusing on and why and what you are going to do differently as a result of the data that you’ve gathered. Oh my goodness! There was a lot in there. I hope you found that really useful. I imagine you’ve probably got a full notebook.
I’d love to know what you’re going to do differently as a result of listening to this episode. If you’ve never done a monthly measurement report before, do you know now feel able to do one? Are you confident that you can give it a go? You can find me online. Tweet me at @AllThingsIC. Find me on LinkedIn, Rachel Miller, or look me up on Instagram, @RachelAllThingsIC. Do share your thoughts with me. I would love to know what you’re taking away from this episode. And remember, what happens inside is reflected outside. See you again soon.
Post author: Rachel Miller
First published on the All Things IC blog 5 December 2021.