Exchange: As an industry, are we getting better at measuring the value of our output?

Our latest Exchange panel debate explored media measurement and evaluation.

"Communications has become more valued by the Board, but as a result needs to justify return-on-investment more than ever." (Ten Years of In-house Communications, a survey by CorpComms Magazine). At this morning's Exchange we asked: As an industry, are we getting better at measuring the value of our output?

Chaired by Helen Dunne, Editor CorpComms Magazine, our panel included Nigel Fairbrass, Head of Media Relations, G4S; Michael Warren, Deputy Director, GCS Insight and Evaluation, Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Office Communication; Dominic Redfearn, Global Brand and Communications Director, Diageo and Marcus Gault, Managing Director, Insight, Kantar Media.

“Getting communications into the board room requires robust evidence that it influences some of the organisation's strategic objectives”

As an industry, we need to move on from measuring just media outputs and build in how we are influencing core business objectives. We need robust insight around how communications is influencing audience perceptions, attitudes, behaviour and commercial objectives. A place at the top table requires evidence that the activity (communications) is influencing key business objectives, not just an improved media profile or a campaign with high audience reach.

The panel highlighted that we're blessed with the number of data points we can get hold of in the modern era, but the key is translating that into something meaningful. There's a big difference between data and insight - stats need to be meaningful, strategic and most importantly, tied into clear objectives.

Measurement programs can fail as a result of lack of clarity on objectives or on the basis of objectives that do not feed into core organisational goals.

“Quality, consistency and coherence are important to us”

The panel discussed how to drive consistency, transparency and trust in analysis across multiple communications teams. It was advised that this is best achieved by centralising measurement programmes to deliver a consistent methodology and metrics - removing the element of teams 'PRing' their work and delivering a level playing field for genuine benchmarks and comparisons.

The panel also raised the challenge of consistency of methodology and measurement across multiple channels for integrated campaigns, such as benchmarking the impact of social media as a channel relative to traditional channels.

“Communications teams are taking more and more ownership in corporate reputation”

The panel debated which function owned reputation within organisations - communications or risk teams? If communications do not take ownership, risk teams fill the void, potentially categorising reputation as a 'business risk'. This leads to tick-box and traffic light approaches to reputation measurement, missing potential for commercial upside from building reputation.

Reputation measurement represents an opportunity for communications to represent the business more broadly than just through the lens of the media through the measurement of all key stakeholders. This, the panel argued, is another way for communications to have relevance in the board room.

You can read extended coverage of the discussion in the next edition of CorpComms Magazine.

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Claire Melly
Head of Marketing, UK & Ireland

Call me +44 (0)20 3130 7424