I was delighted to be one of the speakers at this morning’s summit on measurement hosted by my good friends at CIPR Inside. My H+K colleague David Iannelli and I discussed the Barcelona Principles and whether they were genuinely applicable to internal communications. Essentially our view is that the principles were designed from a fairly myopic, PR-driven perspective. AVEs are meaningless to the IC practioner. (Actually AVEs are meaningless full stop).
Strip out the PR focus and there are one or two of the principles which feel like common sense. But as a distinct discipline shouldn’t Internal Communications have some principles of its own? David quite neatly coined these prospective principles as the “Russell Square Requirements” in homage to our venue (CIPR HQ).
There were some great speakers in the line-up, including my old friend Sean Trainor who as always talks a lot of sense. Often at warp speed. I was also interested to hear the much venerated Angela Sinickas talk about ROI. Angela has some great perspectives and is understandably lauded for her body of work on communications measurement.
Angela did seem a bit upset by my assertion that anyone selling a causal link (as opposed to a correlation) between communications and business results was lying. Having seen some of her case studies I recognise there are some circumstances were you can make a simple, direct connection between a communications intervention and a business result. I can genuinely see the value in isolating simple things which communications teams do, which have a clear, demonstrable financial impact. However, my experience tells me it’s not always easy to isolate the kinds of simple activities Angela so expertly champions - there are just so many variables.
And I’ll be honest I’m not wild about the idea of using those examples to “take credit”. Good comms teams are often working in partnership with other parts of the organization – e.g. HR, Marketing, Sales, etc. So how do you split the “credit” for a shared solution?
I’m also concerned about the slightly defensive tone of having to constantly prove the value of comms… Does Legal have to do that? Or Finance? Or HR? Angela’s point that the labor laws in the US makes comms practitioners more vulnerable is an interesting one. I’d be interested in hearing some views from both sides of the pond on that?
So while Angela has some great ideas which may help in specific circumstances, I hope she would also acknowledge that she is not putting forward a silver bullet for comms measurement. Not least because most organisations are inherently complex and so don’t always present opportunities for such simple solutions.
In any case, Kevin Ruck and the team facilitated a great discussion aimed at getting us towards those requirements.
My key takeouts were that:
- Data needs to analysed and turned into useful insights
- Those insights should aid the decision-making of the organisation
- Having gathered the data, generated the insight, then we must ACT
- We should only measure what the business measures
If you were there, what did you take away from the summit?
Anyway, thanks once again to Kevin, Katie and everyone else at the CIPR for a great summit. I look forward to seeing the refined Russell Square Requirements some time soon!