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Podcast: How to measure internal communication

Do you know how to measure internal communication?

I’ve tackled this hot topic in the latest episode of the Candid Comms podcast and revealed what you need to know, do and think about if you want to measure your internal comms.

You can find the Candid Comms podcast on your favourite player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

In this week’s episode I cover:

  • 3:00 The mindset of measurement
  • 5:00 What on earth is an outcome? Looking at the language of measurement
  • 8:00 Examples of measurement in action
  • 11:59 My golden rule of measurement
  • 13:30 Four ways to measure your internal communication
  • 16:00 Why you need to set your intentions
  • 18:00 Resources and further reading.

 

How to measure internal communication

 

Resources I reference in the episode:

Extracts from How to measure your internal communication.
Candid Comms Podcast, season one, episode six.

Welcome to the Candid Comms podcast. If you are looking for practical and inspirational ideas to help you thrive in internal communication, you’re in the right place. I’m your host, international communication consultant, trainer and mentor Rachel Miller. Through this podcast I’ll share my experience with you so you can increase your skills, knowledge, and confidence on all things internal communication related.

Hello and welcome to the show. In today’s episode, you and I are focusing on how to measure internal communication. As ever, you will leave with one thing to know, one thing to think about and one thing to do. Are you ready?

When you work in the world of internal communication, it is not an option to not measure.

You have to measure your internal communication. The mindset that I encourage you to have in thinking about your internal comms comes from the late great Peter Drucker. If you’ve never encountered Peter Drucker’s work before, do look him up.

He wrote 39 books on modern business management. Really, really inspirational chap. And one of the quotes that I bear in mind when I think about measurement comes from him and he said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

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Now, surely we want to improve our internal communication, right? Surely what we’re trying to do constantly is to evolve and iterate our approach when it comes to communicating successfully with our employees. However, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

You need to know the language of measurement. Traditionally, we have measured outputs in the wonderful world of internal comms.

So it’s only if I think back to when I started my internal comms career back in 2003, I was very much measured on output. And your outputs are normally things like stories, likes, shares. It might be attendees. It’s normally numbers, it’s normally stats.

When you look at an organisation’s internal communication, I find that normally these sorts of stats are easy to gather. Some of the organisations I work with create monthly reports.

So the internal comms teams will create these measurement reports. And I can pretty much guarantee it before we open them, I know what’s going to be in them. And sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised because they focus on outcomes and we’ll talk more about that in a moment, but predominantly they’re focused on outputs.

I see this a lot when I judge industry awards, I judge lots of awards a year. I love discovering the reality of internal comms inside organisations. And I really enjoy seeing firsthand all the brilliant work that internal communicators are doing around the globe to improve the way their organisation communicates with its employees.

But when you’re looking at signs of success, and if you’re writing award entries and you’ll know this if you’ve ever had to write an award entry, a key criteria in there is the measurement. And the easy thing to measure is the output. It’s how many people read this story? How many people clicked on a link? How many people opened our email newsletter? And typically that’s what I see in those monthly reports and documents, which normally just gets circulated within a comms team or perhaps within the wider function, or maybe even with stakeholders.

But when I look at the outputs, I’m presented often with a page of stories, I’ve had this many stories on the internet that generated this many comments, these are our outputs. So we’re measuring, right. We can can relate them and track them month for month for month. We did this many stories this month and this many stories the next month.

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And all I want to say is, so what? Nicely. But, so what? And this is the territory you need to be thinking in. It’s outcome focused. It’s so what’s happened as a result of all of these stories? So what’s happened as a result of all of your employees dialing in to a virtual town hall? So what’s happened as a result of all your employees applying to your values recognition scheme, for example.

This is what we need to be focused on, comms friends, the outcomes. So what’s happened as a result?

So when you’re looking at creating a monthly measurement report, I encourage you to do both. The thing for me is to craft a meaningful picture from the data. And this is what you need to think about. So what you need to know is the language. You need to know the difference between inputs, outputs, outcomes and outtakes.

You also then need to craft all of your data into a meaningful picture. If you’re listening to this episode thinking, well, Rachel, I don’t know the difference between input, outtake, outcomes. What are these words? Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

Back in 2019, my friend Liam Fitzpatrick wrote for my All Things IC blog, he wrote an article called How to Make Internal Comms Add Up.

The definitions he used and shared in that article, I’ll share with you now.

  • So input is, are we using resources effectively?
  • Output is, did we do what we actually planned to do? And if not, do we know why?
  • Your outtakes are, did our audience hear the core messages? And did they make sense?
  • And then your outcomes are, are people doing what the organisation needs them to do?

So playing through that scenario over monthly reports, when you are creating that, and you’re reporting the number of stories that you’ve written, for example, and maybe you’ve linked them to your values and maybe you’ve linked them to your strategic priorities, great. I’m sure that’s really super important and that’s an important measure of success. Lovely. But what’s happened as a result?

So this is something to know and something to think about. You need to know the language.

What is the difference between outputs, inputs, outtakes, outcomes, and how do you use those phrases as a team?

How do you use those phrases as an individual and how do your stakeholders use them? What is their measure of success? Is it the same as yours? Where you might be thinking about outcomes and you might be thinking about behavioural change and what happens as a result of our internal communication.

And for your stakeholders, their measure of success might be our story is at the top and pinned on the internet so that everybody can see it. Or our session in our company update is the most popular or our internal webinar is the most popular. And that’s their measure of success. So do think about that if you’re trying to plan internal communication and you’re trying to measure, and if we can’t measure something, we can’t improve it. Think about that. Think about the language that you’re using and how you use it consistently.

I also have a golden rule, which is measure what you treasure.

How to measure internal communication

Really, really simple. What do you treasure? What is important to you? Is it how many clicks we’ve had on stories? Or is it that the number of lost time incidents has changed, for example.

What do you treasure?

Use that as a lens, look at initiatives that you’ve got coming up perhaps, or maybe reflect back on change communication, which is a whole topic in its own rights. But what did you treasure? We’re going to take a break. And when we come back, I’m going to share one thing I encourage you to do.

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In this final section of today’s episode, I’m going to share what I think you need to do. And what we need to do when it comes to measuring our internal communication is get organised.

I’m going to share four different pieces of research with you and frameworks that I hope will really help you. The first one is my intentions framework. If you’ve ever heard me speak on stage or attended an in-person or online masterclass with me, chances are you’d have heard me talk about my intentions framework. I used to call it my secret sauce, but really it’s intention. And it’s this, what do you want employees to do, say, think, feel, sometimes I add the word differently, as a result of your internal communication and how do you want or need them to behave. What do you want employees to do say, think, feel as a result of your internal communication and how do you want or need them to behave?

Setting intentions in internal communication by Rachel Miller

The reason that’s important is because if I don’t know the answers to those questions, I haven’t got a hope of measuring.

If I’m not clear why I’m creating a poster or writing a story for the intranet or putting something on digital signage or creating a whole initiative or rolling out a new app, how can I possibly measure?

Now in there you probably noticed the word feel. I’ve used the word feel in my comms planning for years. Some organisations have their own versions. They have do, say, think or think, feel, do or no feel, act. All sorts.

You might have one yourself, your mindset, your intention for your internal communication. Now I think comms friends, because the year 2020 happened, when you are planning your internal communication, I think one thing that that year really showed was the importance of emotional intelligence. This is the feelings bit.

The importance of feelings in internal communication

So if you’re planning internal comms and you haven’t thought about how you want our employees to feel, go back, have another look at it. Because I believe when you tap into the power of emotional intelligence, it can unlock amazing opportunities within your organization for good, honest, candid conversations and two way communication.

Over on my All Things IC blog, I’ve written articles about how to communicate with empathy and how to communicate with compassion.

These are the feelings that I’m referring to. I’ll link through to those in the show notes so you can read them. So the intention there is, if I’m really clear what I want employees to do say, think or feel, and I know how they want them to behave, then I can measure against it. So it’s the intentions framework.

Second framework I want to share with you is the Oasis framework, O-A-S-I-S framework from the government communication service, GCS, here in the UK. I’m trying to bust all these acronyms as we go. Bear with me, comms friends, I’m trying!

Every letter of that OASIS framework stands for something. So it’s your objectives, your audience insight, your strategy, your implementation and scoring. Starting with objectives obviously makes sense. Let’s make sure that they’re smart if we can.

When stakeholders have conversations with us, they typically come in at implementation level. And let me help you understand what that means. The implementation level is normally the channel. So imagine this conversation. Does this seem familiar to you? A stakeholder will come up to you and they will say, “Oh, Rachel,” that’s my name, obviously, they’d say your name. “I need to have a story on the internet.” And we’d say, “Hold on a second, back up, back up.”

And what we’re asking them to do is go through the phases of this framework. We’re asking them, what are your objectives? That’s, what is it that you’re trying to achieve? We’re asking what’s the audience insight.

Now, comms friends we have a lot of audience insights because if we’re tapped into our organization, if we have things like employee survey data, for example, then imagine we’re doing a change comms situation and change comms campaign and we know because of our audience insight from our employee survey data, we know our employees feel like change is done to them.

So we know this already. So when we have conversations with stakeholders about communicating change, because we have that insight, it will shape what we do and how we do it.

Then we move into the S, the strategy. So what’s the big idea? What’s the plan? And how does this link in to our organisational objectives as well?

I often put that bit in at the strategy level. So you go through objectives, audience, strategy, and then sure, let’s talk about implementation. Let’s talk about channel. But before you’ve done all of those stages, if you just dive in at a channel level, you might find that actually, maybe it’s a change comm scenario. Maybe you’re making a change to line managers terms or conditions say, actually it only impacts the top 100 employees in your organisation.

So your stakeholder who’s come to you, perhaps from HR, and says, “I need a story on the intranet on the front page.” Actually, no, they don’t. Because what they actually need is a channel that will target your top 100 managers, because the change is actually just for them. So the audience insight and the strategy here is all about shaping the right conditions that will then lead you into the implementation, which is as a result of knowing what we’re trying to achieve, who it’s aimed at, what we want them to do, then we know therefore the channel to use.

The final part of Oasis, the final S, is scoring or evaluation.

And that’s your measurement piece. And that’s a constant. If you look at the graphic of that model, you will see that there’s an arrow at the bottom going from scoring that goes right up to the top again, because it’s a cyclical process. Again, I’ll share that in the show notes for you.

So that’s my intentions framework and that’s the Oasis framework.

The other two, I want to share with you are the AMEC framework from the association of measurement and evaluation in communication. And if you are interested in measurement and you’ve not come across AMEC before, do check them out. Every November, they have a global measurement month where they have all sorts of events and opportunities for comms pros to learn about measurement.

The AMEC framework is a really solid, excellent piece of work. There’s a website where you can plug in your inputs, outtakes, outputs, and know we know what these are now, because we’ve been talking about them. So we can plug in there what is it that we’re trying to achieve from our campaign?

And it’s fantastic. They’ve relaunched it a few years back in multiple languages as well. So it’s really super, and I’ll link for you to that in the show notes.

The final thing I want to share with you in terms of doing our homework on measurement is a report that was issued by the Institute of Internal Communication, IoIC, another acronym. And CIPR, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Now as a member and a Fellow of both CIPR and IoIC, I can’t tell you how heartened I was to see them partnering up to produce a Measurement Research Report.

It’s an outstanding piece of work. In this research, they looked at all the different models that are available and they analysed them all. And they drew some conclusions in terms of what’s out there for this perennial problem of measuring internal communication. What is out there to support internal communicators? It included frameworks from Dr. Kevin Ruck from PR Academy, who I think of as the godfather of IC, I’m a big Kevin fan. And it’s really, really useful because it analyses all the different types of frameworks that exist. It’s a really solid, useful piece of work.

Well, we’ve got to the end of our measurement episode. We’ve covered so much. I hope you’re doing okay.

I hope you’ve taken lots of notes or if you’re out and about and out for a run and you haven’t had a chance to come back and make notes, I hope that you do follow up with yourself and do make a note of what difference would it make for you to be able to measure your internal communication effectively?

What action are you going to take as a result of listening to this podcast? Whether it’s clarifying the language that you use around measurement, whether it’s looking back at campaigns that you’ve done and actually trying to draw some conclusions and craft a meaningful picture from the data, or maybe you’ll introduce a monthly measurement report.

Whatever you do, I’d love to know how you get on. Feel free to get in touch with me.

Thank you for tuning in. I hope to see you again next week. And remember what happens inside is reflected outside. See you again soon.

What is the podcast?

The Candid Comms podcast is a weekly show designed to connect internal communication professionals to the latest advice and guidance, to help you thrive in your role.

Each episode is packed with inspirational and practical internal communication advice and ideas. They are released every Monday and are approximately 20 minutes long.

Previous episodes:

Thank you to my Producer Debbie West of Seren Creative. You can listen to Candid Comms below or online.

Thank you to everyone who has tuned in to the series so far. It’s been heard by people in the UK, US, Australia, Sweden, Argentina, India, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Brazil already.

I’m enjoying seeing professional communicators discovering the show and sharing their feedback. Thank you. Do let me know your thoughts.

You can find the Candid Comms podcast on your favourite player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

 

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel.

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 26 February 2021.

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