The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) (http://www.instituteforpr.org/) recently published "How Top Business Communicators Measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of Corporate Communication Efforts" by Juan Meng , University of Dayton, and Bruce K. Berger, University of Alabama.
The paper won the Top Paper Award at IPR's 2010 International Public Relations Research Conference. It focuses on internal communications and reports findings from an international survey of 265 experienced communicators and a set of 13 in-depth follow-up interviews. You can find the paper here: http://www.instituteforpr.org/research_single/businesscommroi/.
Following is a summary of six key findings taken directly from the paper:
1: Though communication effectiveness has been an important concern for organizational leaders, the assessment of communication effectiveness has not been widely applied by using business outcome metrics in organizations.
2: Though most respondents agreed that measuring the effectiveness of internal communication initiatives should be part of standard operating practice in the organization, other factors such as scorecard balance, practice justification, and leadership direction also contribute to the use of business outcome metrics to the measurement process.
3: Though many organizations use metrics to measure communication effectiveness in general, five aspects of internal communication initiatives have been measured on a regular basis. They are: 1) increased awareness or understanding, 2) concentrated engagement among employees, 3) improved job performance, 4) changed employee behaviors, and 5) improved business performance at the organizational level.
4: The study highlighted a number of potential barriers to measurement initiatives in organizations. The three potential issues or barriers cited most often were: 1) insufficient resources (e.g., money and staff), 2) difficulties determining a specific cause-and-effect relationship between communication initiatives and business results, and 3) time constraints.
5: Communicators rely especially on three measurement approaches to assess internal communication efforts: 1) employee feedback gathered by surveys, 2) employee participation in related communication initiatives, and 3) managerial feedback collected via surveys.
6: Four primary reasons for implementing internal communication programs were mentioned most often. They are: 1) explaining and promoting new programs and policies; 2) educating employees about organizational culture and values; 3) providing information on organizational performance and financial objectives; and 4) helping employees understand the business.
If you're at all interested, download and read the paper. Also, poke around in the IPR site, you'll find all kinds of great research that helps communicators better do what they do.
Here's my take on measurement and what to ask prospective social media measurement tool vendors. I'd be interested in comments on what else is important?
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