Government tells public sector: Spend 10 per cent of campaign budgets on evaluation

Public sector comms teams need to ensure that they are properly demonstrating the effectiveness of their work, according to an evaluation framework published by the Government Communication Service (GCS) this month.

Growing importance is being placed on ensuring evaluation is part of all major campaigns
Growing importance is being placed on ensuring evaluation is part of all major campaigns

It recommends that between five and 10 per cent of campaign budgets should be spent on evaluation.

Writing in the foreword, Alex Aiken, GCS executive director, said the framework is being "provided to communicators across the wider public sector to assist in measuring the success of our work and appraising our activities".

He added: "Evaluation remains a critical function for delivering effective communication activity, and this guide will help colleagues plan campaigns in a way that can be meaningfully evaluated."

The focus on evaluation is part of a process to "drive improvements across our profession, including our capability to provide impactful behaviour change and policy delivery", according to Aiken.

The framework provides "guidance for major paid-for campaigns and other communication activity", according to the report, which outlines metrics for measuring behaviour change, recruitment and awareness campaigns.

It is based on the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication’s model looking at inputs, outputs, outtakes and outcomes.

The framework states: "The most important of these is outcomes: how effective communication activity is in achieving policy aims and delivering organisational impact."

Comms teams need to ensure that their objectives are "specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely".

The framework cites, as an example, an objective being to "increase recognition among 18-34s of the economic opportunities of *** by five per cent by Dec 2019 (vs Jan 2019 baseline of 20 per cent)".

It also provides a detailed example of how to calculate a return on investment, showing the level of financial and mathematical detail required and how it should be presented.

Reputation is another area looked at, with the framework stating: "There is still much confusion about how to best measure and manage reputation, with many seemingly competing models and approaches."

It recommends that comms teams focus on measuring this in terms of looking at the reputation with whom, for what and for what purpose.

The ethics of using data is also covered, with the framework saying: "You must have an understanding of the relevant laws and codes of practice that relate to the use of data."

It adds that people should "use data that is proportionate to the user need" and be aware of the limitations of data. They should also make their work "transparent and be accountable".

The framework concludes: "It is essential that there is a plan to make sure insights from data are used responsibly. This means those teams understand how findings and data models should be used and monitored with a robust evaluation plan."

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