How to Measure Internal Communications: People, Technology, and Process
You’re at a pivotal moment. You are taking the right steps to implement your strategy, measure your results, and now you need a skilled, experienced team to help you execute.
In the first installment of our How to Measure Internal Communications series, we covered everything you need to know to develop your goals and KPIs. You established some key metrics and how best to use them. Now, it’s time to align your team with your vision, tools, and processes.
You’re probably short-handed—comms staff-wise. You may have technology at your disposal, but nothing that actually meets your needs and perfectly supports your internal communications strategy. Imagine a world where you could plan, create, publish, and measure the effectiveness of all of your content.
If you had the staff of your dreams, what would that look like?
How to build a high-performing internal communications team
Surrounding yourself with passionate and motivated people isn’t always enough to achieve your objectives. You’ll need to ask yourself: Does my team align with my strategy? Who’s a critical team member now? What resources will I need to achieve the business and communications outcomes we seek? Where are our gaps, and how will I resolve them?
Team structure, experience, and skills
The right team will make or break your ability to achieve the business and communication outcomes you seek. Start by assessing your current team’s structure, experience, skills, and capabilities. What skills does your strategy require? Is your current team’s skills a match? Do they have the capacity to execute your internal communications strategy, including measuring the effectiveness across the channels and vehicles you use? Where do they need to be now, six months from now, a year from now, two years?
Bottom line: You need a diverse, capable team to accomplish your goals. If and when you find gaps, hire new people or outsource to contractors and agencies until you can bring on full-time staff. Keep in mind, while one individual could have more than one of these skills, it’s a rare find. And the size of your department should depend on your strategy and objectives.
Build your dream team
After you evaluate your present team on their collective ability to understand and execute your internal communications strategy, you’ll know who can help you achieve your objectives and where you need to make some changes. When you consider the structure and roles for your team members, also assume you’ll want to run a data-driven communications practice. In that case, you will need some of these core roles and skills on your team.
Strategist: Plays a crucial role in developing your internal communications strategy.
Data Analyst: Develops best-practice workflows for data capture and management, reviews data to find insights, and develops action plans around them.
Content/Editorial Strategist: Owns content strategy, creates briefs to onboard content creators; produces, reviews, and edits content; and has experience and skills to measure the performance and effectiveness of the content and information your team publishes.
Copywriters: Varying writers to cover narrative, short-form mobile and social, instructional, script, and any other forms of writing that align with your communications strategy.
Designers: Different types across channels like digital, mobile/social, print, experiential, motion graphics, reports, illustrations, infographics, etc.
Videographer and Editor: Plans, shoots, and edits videos of all shapes and sizes; could be a single person with a cross-functional capability, or two to three person crew based on video type and the amount of work.
Remember, while your team may have more and/or different resources than recommended above, the key is to unify your resources to your communications strategy.
Align your executives to support your internal communications
Today, we live in the age of analytics. Companies are embracing data to improve their operations and make business-critical decisions. As you get your team on board and aligned, you also want to align your stakeholders and leaders to your internal communications strategy. You can’t work alone. Just as your team should share your vision, you need buy-in from leadership. Moreover, regular reporting on results and outcomes are critical, so everyone becomes invested in your content’s performance and what actions you can take from the insights. If leaders aren’t asking for this, take this as a sign you need to use data to capture their attention to get them on board.
How to find the right technology solution
Today you can’t measure the effectiveness of your communications without technology, and if your team is lacking the right technology and skills in this area, this should be one of the first areas to invest in. Analytics software should be simple to use but may require a third-party integration. Consider these three areas when searching for the best fit solution.
Make a list of your requirements. What do you need to measure? Map your specific metrics, KPIs, and use cases to the technology solutions in the marketplace. For example, how will you measure email open rates or the effectiveness of your latest townhall meeting? How will you quantify employee engagement in a way that is meaningful to employees?
Examine current features and future capabilities. Ask your vendor if this tool can handle your present and upcoming business needs. How do they envision their own product roadmap evolving? How does the technology fit into your current communications stack, or set of software? To help with this part of the evaluation, you’ll need to involve IT from the start. Not only do you need IT’s technical guidance, but also you’ll need their participation to manage and support the technologies you onboard.
Research the technology company’s support services. What kind of partner do you need? Do you require professional services, training, or integration support? If your IT people want to talk to the company’s support team or engineers to resolve an issue, will they have access? Not every tech company offers these levels of support. Choose a vendor who has the strategic and technical know-how, and that complements your company’s vision and requirements.
Establish a proactive measurement and analysis process
When you implement new technology, it’s critical to establish a workflow that enables you and your team to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. Once you align on what and how you will measure it, you also need to resolve how frequently you will pull reports to analyze the results.
Do you first share results with your manager? And eventually with leadership? No matter who you share with, part of that process should be to find insights from the data and analytics tools, align with your manager or other stakeholders on those insights, and be prepared to recommend actions plans so you can execute on your opportunities.
Once you have your technology set into place, along with the right people and support, here’s a general workflow outline to get the illumination you seek:
Always set your goals and KPIs when you start a project. Then you know what to work toward and what success looks like. From this step, choose the right channels and vehicles for your initiatives. Then, you’ll determine what can and can’t be measured via that channel.
Segment your audience and create targeted personalized content. Employees are informed and activated when they receive relevant content and information, and our recent Comms Effectiveness survey found that across all our customer’s programs, targeted content had two times the click-through rate than other forms of communications.
Measure daily/weekly/real-time if possible. As you gather your data, you’ll begin to immediately capture insights from them. This is where a data analyst could help you understand the insights and turn them into a story. When you use storytelling tactics to share data and insights, people will better understand your results and action plans.
Create reports and share with team members and leaders. Collectively learn from your content’s performance, and decide together on the best plans of action. Look back on your initial goals and objectives, and prioritize what’s next. Without these metrics, you’re in the dark. Did your employees read your content and take the action asked of them? What can you improve? And while you may find some needs for manual reports, the right technology will make this process faster, and in some cases more automated.
Repeat. Measurement is not a one and done process. It is a continuous series of checks and balances to make sure you’re on the right path to improvement. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how you learn and improve on your important work. Don’t look for perfection. Instead, assume you are on a path towards continuous improvement.
Measuring internal communications is new for most communicators, and is a learning process. Keep a mindset to regularly study your employees’ behaviors and preferences. And most importantly, show your employees you heard them by taking fast action on their concerns or preferences.
Take a deep breath. We’ve covered a lot of information. In our next installment How to Measure Internal Communications: Analysis and Insights, you’ll learn how to tell a story with data and take action from it. By presenting your insights in a narrative with context to what happened, why, and how it occurred, and what you’re doing next, you’ll be on the path to success.
And if you need help, we’re here for you. Just reach out to us.