Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


November, 2011

Strategic Planning  

Focus Groups - Surveys Training - Evaluation  


 Sinickas Communications, Inc.   Tel: +1.714.277.4130   FAX: +1.714.242.7049                                             


his issue of Measurement Works is filled with tips and examples of practical measurements, such as how to create a dashboard of measurements for your leadership, use research to make town hall meetings get measurable results, how to word survey questions to avoid common mistakes, and how to calculate reading grade levels. We hope you consider contributing your own suggestions and stories to share with your peers in future issues. To share this newsletter with colleagues, use the "Forward" link at the bottom of this column.


In this issue:

  • Client project: Recruitment research for European oil and gas company
  • Slides: How to create your own communication dashboard
  • My Story:  Using research to fine-tune execs' messages, by Jeffrey Brooke, ABC, Mitre Corp.
  • Tip of the month: Checklist for wording survey questions 
  • Article: Setting performance goals for next year; visualizing this year's results
  • Workshops: Oslo, Cape Town, New York, Barbados; Webinar on Dashboards 
  • Online forums: Measuring publications, use of database norms, what to include in an internal comms audit, calculating reading grade levels, and measuring email open rates
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conference; FREE Sinickas Comms Training audio CDs   


Setting 2012 performance goals, reporting results

A SinickasBy Angela Sinickas, ABC  


Data that reflect communication performance should do two things: indicate success to allow for recognition, and refocus effort where it's needed most. This two-part article, originally published in Melcrum's SCM journal, covers how to identify and gather the right types of metrics and then collapse measurement results into "visual shorthand." 


Follow these steps to identify which communication metrics you should include as key performance indicators (KPIs):
  • Find all available current numbers from surveys or observational metrics like usage statistics, content analysis and reading grade levels of the writing. 
  • Organize the metrics by different categories: internal/external, messages/channels, activities/outcomes.
  • Look for inconsistencies in the way similar things are measured, or for any gaps in what's missing from the current measurements. This will let you know how you might need to adjust your measurement approaches for next year.
  • Review a list of what you think should be in your performance goals with your executives to ensure you're measuring what they care about, not just what you want them to know about.
  • Identify current baselines on the final list of metrics, which could be based on current usage results, database norms from survey questions, or internal benchmarks (e.g., on expectations for budget management, staff retention, etc.).
  • Set targets for next year, expressed as either reaching a specific number or achieving a percentage improvement over your current level.
  • Define what achieving your target represents: satisfactory performance or outstanding performance.    (Read more on setting targets)
When reporting your results, collapse many related metrics into fewer categories that are easier for executives to focus on. Choose a visualization method that matches how other departments in your company present their results: balanced scorecards, report cards, dashboards,  indexes, etc. Also determine if all your metrics are equally important, or if some should carry more weight in your overall performance assessment.

 Client Project:  

Identifying pay and work-life trade-offs for recruiting

Client: A global, Europe-based , oil and gas company 

Need for researchAs the economy started improving, this oil and gas company was eager to expand its US operations. Its strategy involved hiring an agency to develop a focused recruitment campaign, primarily for engineers, scientists and managers. However, the company first wanted to gain deep insight into what potential recruits were looking for in their next employer, and if they perceived my client to be a good match for their needs.
2011-11 Recruitment Chart

What made this research different

Survey invitations were sent to over 4,000 potential candidates in key local markets. Providing an incentive of a $25 gift card for resulted in a response rate good enough to result in a 4% margin of error. 


The survey was designed to ask many questions before respondents knew who was sponsoring the survey. Questions in the survey included:


  • How important various aspects of compensation, benefits and working environment were to candidates. Those who rated a particular factor as important or very important received additional questions about what they expected of that factor, such as how much of a bonus percentage they wanted or where they might like to work as an expatriate. (See chart above for another example.)
  • Which total compensation or work environment factors they valued enough to be willing to take a smaller pay increase for.
  • Which of 18 companies they believed would be good matches for their compensation and work environment requirements.
  • What they knew about my client's company, their likelihood of applying for a job there, and reasons for being open to working there or not.
  • Recruitment communication methods that would be most likely to work for them.
Results of the research: According to my client, the research findings have "shifted the conversation" about what elements of their employment offer might need to be adjusted. Some current aspects of their compensation package that they thought might need to be changed turned out to be minimally important, and to relatively few people. In other cases, aspects of their work culture turned out to be very important to candidates, but most of them don't yet associate those environmental factors with my client's company. The next step will be to select an agency to help them communicate the advantages of working for my client's company. The highly actionable survey findings will help them tailor the messages and use the most effective recruitment channels. 


 My Story 

Research can change execs' messaging for the better

By Jeffrey Brooke, ABC

Jeffrey  has been an internal communicator in the federal government for 20 years, most recently as director of internal communication for a Congressional agency, the US Government Printing Office. Later this month he begins a new career as a principal with MITRE Corporation's organizational change management consulting practice.


Every seat I have earned "at the table" and each step forward in my career has stemmed from measured communication outcomes, with the lion's share of my toolbox coming from the lessons I've learned by following Angela's measurement quest.


Simple, daily measures work: One key lesson I've learned is that simple measures work.  While grand measures such as correlations with employee engagement have untold value, measuring our daily work is most essential. With daily measures, communicators develop a mindset that makes us more effective, and our leaders develop new levels of respect for our work, seeing us as more than good wordsmiths. During my years with IRS's agency-wide internal communication team, we produced all the outputs expected of such a shop--newsletters, manager briefing points, town halls, web content, etc. But the results we demonstrated set us apart. Here's one example any communicator can reproduce--measures to guide a leadership town hall.


Key measures for town hall meetings: The IRS was three years into a whole-scale transformation guided by seven strategies. A series of interactive video town halls between the executive team and all 15,000 managers in hundreds of offices was one part of a larger communication plan. We measured the "usual suspects" in post-town hall surveys to gauge satisfaction with event length, interest, and overall satisfaction. These are a good start, but Angela presses us to assess knowledge and feelings, importance and performance.


Pre-research used to find employees' hot buttons: The executive team framed its draft remarks around the seven strategies, with a heavy focus on their importance to future success. So we conducted measures to help them calibrate to the audience, to adjust for the actual state of the audience's knowledge and feelings about the importance and performance of the strategies. All it took was a survey listing the seven strategies asking  participants to state (1) how important they felt each was to the IRS' future success, and (2) how much progress they saw on the strategy. We used an agree-disagree scale with a comment box, and issued the survey to a random sample of managers a few days before the event.


Research changed focus of execs' comments: The feedback showed generally high levels of buy-in for each strategy, such as high scores for "importance." It also revealed low scores on perceived "performance" for some strategies. In other words, the planned remarks, with their focus on importance, didn't align with the reality of the audience. The write-in comments, which clustered around ten themes, gave us data about specific concerns and emotional hot-buttons. We guided the executives to say less about importance, or "reasons why," and more about progress on the indicated strategies, such as the results of pilot projects. Our advice was precise and supported by data, not our opinions.


Post-meeting survey showed progress: An hour after the town hall, we repeated the survey. The outcome? We had achieved the improvements in knowledge and feelings we had targeted for each strategy. We also conducted correlation analysis between a number of factors for further depth, but this was icing on the cake. We succeeded by simply asking the right questions, computing the means, and distilling themes of the write-in comments to elaborate. Our measures gave the executives the type of performance data they are used to seeing with any other business process. Our data also showed them what they needed to focus on next to maintain success and positioned the communication team as their business partners...who also happened to be good wordsmiths. 


To submit your own story of how you've been using research and measurement,

 send an email, with the following information and your photo attached:

    • Your name, title, organization and location
    • Which Sinickas resource inspired you (workshop, manual, tool, article, etc.)
    • What you've done with the information you learned
    • What impact it had on your audience, your organization or your career.  

Online Forums

Useful measurement discussions at LinkedIn

If you join the LinkedIn forum at Employee Communication and Engagement--CIPR Inside, you'll see a list of ideas for how to measure an employee publication and the beginnings of a debate on the value of database norms for comparing your survey results with those of other companies. Weigh in with your own opinion.


If you are a member of the Corporate Communication forum, 22 have answered a request for tips on "doing a diagnosis with employees to support a future internal communication plan."


On the Melcrum members' forum, a freelance writer needs stories of how internal communicators have used story-telling and dialogue when communicating research data to company leaders. Another Melcrum question was about questions to ask key stakeholders in an Internal Communication review survey.
Ways of measuring reading grade level are part of a robust discussion by members at the PR and Communication Professionals forum.


At the Internal Communication forum, members provide recommendations of software for measuring e-mail opens.  

Featured Workshop
ALI is offering $400 off their Intranet 2.0 conference in New York Jan. 30-Feb. 3 if you mention my name when registering. I'm doing a workshop at 8:30 am, 
Jan. 30, on measuring electronic communication. 

Tip of the Month

Checklist for Wording Survey Questions 


There's nothing more frustrating than getting survey results and realizing the questions or scales were so flawed you can't do anything with them. This month's tip offers a nine-point checklist to make sure the questions on your next survey will result in actionable data.

(Read the entire tip ) 


Slides of the Month

& More Articles 

Presentation Slides:

How to Create Your Own Dashboard 

Includes larger images of visuals in the articles at left. 



Invest 2011 Budget for 2012 Benefits

If you expect to have left-over budget this year, consider investing now for measurement tools or training you can use throughout 2012.

 Some popular products we have available:

Seminars & Workshops

In the next few months Angela Sinickas will be conducting training on CEO communication, electronic channel measurement, and becoming a strategic partner instead of an order-taker.

(See details & full calendar)


  • Nov. 28-29, Oslo, Norway (Norwegian Communication Association)
  • Dec. 12, Cape Town, South Africa (IABC)
  • Jan. 31, New York (ALI Intranet 2.0 Conference)
  • Feb. 16, Webinar on creating dashboards (PRSA)
  • Feb. 23, Barbados, CEO Communication Training (Brainwave)
  • Feb. 24, Barbados, Extreme Make-over (Brainwave)


$400 OFF
 Advanced Learning Institute
will offer a $400 discount when you mention Angela Sinickas' name on your registration form for ALI Conferences in 2012 where she is a speaker:


Jan. 31 in New York

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Measurement Works aspires to be a useful resource for communicators with a need to measure, but without a great deal of time, money or expertise. Please send in any questions you have about research and measurement, and contribute your own experiences in having conducted measurably successful communi-cations for others to learn from.



Angela Sinickas, ABC

Sinickas Communications, Inc.

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previous issues of
Measurement Works:

August 2011 issue

September 2011 issue

October 2011 issue


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Measurement Works 

From Angela Sinickas, ABC

November, 2011