How to Know You Rock: Ways to Measure Communication
If one of your News Year’s Resolutions is to better measure your communication efforts, you’re not alone, my friend. Unfortunately, communications is an area that is naturally difficult to measure. Your focus is on people--not numbers--so how do we pull data from that? Well, here are some steps to get you started.
1. Start at the End
Before diving in, give some thought to your goals. Determine how you’re going to use the data, and what type of information would be most helpful.
For example: What organizational goals are you trying to accomplish with your communications (increase transparency, participation, transit ridership, etc.)? Yes, we want to measure individual strategies and tools, but at the end of the day we’re trying to achieve something bigger. Consider sharing final findings in a report to come full circle in reporting.
2. Look at Your Existing Tools
What would we do without the Internet? Fortunately for us, many of our regular communication tools now come with useful analytics. Check out some information you can pull from digital, and even print, tools.
- Number of followers
- Post reach or impressions
- Engagement rates (likes, shares, comments, re-tweets, etc.)
- Video views
- Individual site visits
- Common search terms
- Time spent on website and pages
- Most visited pages
- Reach of a newspaper article
- Number of direct mail materials sent
- Number of publications printed and distributed
- Number of subscribers
- Open rates
- Click through rates
3. What are You Missing?
Still not getting the information that you need? To fill data gaps, it may be worthwhile to invest in polling or surveys. I understand your eye-roll, but it’s still the best way to get statistically valid, data-driven proof that you have influenced awareness or public opinion. If needed, find a friend with expertise in developing non-leading questions and analyzing data to help you get started.
For example: Make your own (Formstack or SurveyMonkey) to gather data or hire out for statistically valid data (NRC, etc).
4. Tell a Story
Well this may not provide you with quantitative data, but qualitative data is important too, right? Make note of any stories or interesting nuggets you hear through your audience interactions to present with the numbers. Sharing anecdotal evidence of success can have a powerful impact.
For example: Using the total number of emergency responses versus the sharing the story of the women who received emergency assistance in the birth of her little boy who was delivered en route to the hospital.
5. Track Your Progress
The fun part comes after you’ve gotten in the habit of regular data reporting. Compare your data from year to year to see how the numbers change and where improvements have been made. I promise that will make all the reporting worth it.