NEW YORK: Most companies measure their communications efforts infrequently and informally, if at all, according to a recent study conducted by human-resources consulting firm Towers Perrin, in collaboration with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
Fifty-seven percent of study participants reported using informal measures - including informal interviews, anecdotal feedback, and comments from leadership and the grapevine - to gauge their internal performance "frequently" and "often." Thirty-four percent said they use internal interviews, while 15% said focus groups are their preferred method.
Perhaps the most telling survey finding was that only 15% of respondents reported giving attention to measuring external or media relations efforts.
More than half of respondents said that improving their operating performance was their top priority. Thirty-six percent noted cost reduction among their top three priorities, while 32% cited adapting to industry change.
Katherine Woodall, principal at Towers Perrin and co-author of the study, attributed the lack of attention paid to measurement to companies' priorities and the economic climate.
"Organizations are so consumed with improving their operating performance right now," explained Woodall. "That, coupled with the industry-wide cost reductions that have been taking place, has prevented communications teams from spending time on tracking their work."
Overall, approximately half of respondents revealed that their communications teams lack concrete or formal measurement tools. This is consistent with the findings of this year's PRWeek/Biz360 Corporate Survey, which reported that only 53% of respondents allocate budgets for PR measurement programs.
And of those that have invested in metrics tools, 59% have them requested by upper management.
Despite the current state of affairs, participants in the Towers Perrin/IABC study claimed that "establishing strategic plans and ways to measure results" was one of their top goals for the future.
"Since demonstrating economic value is essential in gaining management influence and credibility, communications professionals must put developing and implementing credible measures at the top of their lists," Woodall said.
The study, Future Trends, involved interviews with over 30 senior communications practitioners, as well as electronic survey responses from more than 1,000 IABC members.
COMPANIES' MEASUREMENT VIEWS
57% use informal feedback frequently or often
36% rate cost reduction among their top priorities
34% use internal interviews as a primary form of measurement
32% rate adapting to industry change as their top priority
15% use focus groups as a primary form of measurement
15% give attention to measuring external and media relations efforts