Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


January, 2012

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 focuses on communication audits--the business case for what they can accomplish, as well as nuts and bolts on how to do them. 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 link to .


In this issue:

  • Client project: Pharmacia employee communication audit provides ROI calculation 
  • Video Easy research approaches, plus tips on surveys (4 minutes)
  • In my opinion:  Lou Wiliams and David Dozier share research results on positive outcomes from communication audits.
  • Tip of the month: Selecting the right size sample for surveys 
  • Article: Choosing the best communication audit tools for an organization's needs
  • Workshops:  New York, Long Island, Barbados, Austin, Chicago; Webinars on dashboards, ROI and measuring your department's infrastructure
  • Online forums: Validity of ROI calculations, measuring video, business case for communication audits, the right KPIs for communicators
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conferences; FREE Sinickas Comms Training audio CDs   


 Matching audit tools to the information you need

A Sinickas
By Angela Sinickas, ABC  


What some people refer to as a communication audit, others might call a needs analysis or a communication effectiveness study. This summary highlights elements that can be part of an audit; the link below to a PDF of the complete original article, which appeared in Melcrum's Strategic Communication Management, provides more details on the "how to" on carrying out an audit based on your organization's need and budget.  


Observational metrics: Before launching "audience-invasive" research techniques, it helps to use observational metrics to record all you can about what is actually occurring in your communication environment. These can include: an inventory, a visual audit, content analysis, reading grade level analysis, online usage statistics and social media scans, analysis of how communicators spend their time and budgets, pilot/control groups and communication flow analysis.


Qualitative audience research: An audit can include open-ended discussions with individuals and groups (typically executive interviews and audience focus groups) to identify the organization's communication opportunities and problems. Specialized techniques also include network analysis and Starch Tests. What you learn will also help you formulate the right questions for the survey you'll conduct next.


Quantitative audience research: Surveys quantify many of the issues identified from executive and employee qualitative research so that you can compare results among subgroups, track improvements over time and compare your own results against database norms. Communication elements measured through employee surveys can include...

 Client Project:  

Pharmacia survey helps calculate communication's ROI 

Client: Wendy Kouba, currently Executive Director of Strategy Realization Office for Global Vaccines & Sterile Manufacturing at Merck


Wendy Kouba

The business need: Pharmacia (which was later acquired by Pfizer) had hired a new leader for its Animal Health business unit who had generated a new business strategy that needed to be communicated by the unit's communicator. This created an opportunity to demonstrate how strategic communications could help improve organizational performance within Animal Health, including reinforcing organizational and brand initiatives and aligning employee behavior with business priorities. It also created an opportunity for Pharmacia's head of global employee communication, Wendy Kouba, to proactively share this approach and results with business unit presidents throughout the organization to gain global support and resources for expanding the scope and influence of communications internally.  


What made the research different: The communication survey used to measure the program's success asked many questions that typically appear on other similar surveys to measure progress against their goals for messages and channels. The key difference was that one goal was to measure the return on investment. To do this we picked one communication campaign for which the business goal was clearly exceeded--achieving far higher sales for a particular product than the expected year-over-year increase. One question on the survey asked sales people and other employees how much credit they would give the internal communications about selling this product for the increase in sales, well beyond the targeted annual increase. Overall 54% of employees, and 78% of sales employees, said that the internal communications were either the single greatest reason for the phenomenal increase or one of the top three reasons. (If you're a member of the CIPR Inside forum on LinkedIn, see a debate about this calculation online.)


Being conservative, we approximated internal communication's credit as 54% of the excess increase beyond the expected annual increase, divided by three (for being one of the top three reasons). That resulted in an ROI of 1971% based on gross excess sales and 294% based on net profit on the excess sales. To be even more conservative, we compared the 12-01 ROI Calculationreturn against not only the estimated proportion of time and money spent that year on this one campaign, but against the total cost of the function's annual salary, annual budget and cost of doing the research project.


Results achieved: Based on the overall survey results, and the calculated ROI of just one major campaign, senior management tripled the communication department's budget for the following year so they could focus more staff time on bottom-line-related projects. Plus, because the overall program was not only very strong based on traditional communication effectiveness metrics, but also showed measurable business results, the overall communication program won an IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence in the Communication Management category. (Gold Quill write-up is available for review.)

"A focus on strategic and out-of-the-box thinking, supported by targeted pre-program research delivered huge dividends for us," said Kouba. "I would encourage all companies to think about demonstrable metrics from the get-go and demonstrate the ROI and business impact of strategic communications. Taking this approach with our internal clients and sponsors is critical to proving the value of communications and  growing the bottom line of the business." 

 In My Opinion 

Framing audits for positive organizational outcomes

Mike Klein
By Lou Williams and David Dozier

Lou Williams, Jr., Chairman of The Lou Williams Companies, and David Dozier, Professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University, conducted research with 44 communication research consultants (including this newsletter's author) about what kinds of positive outcomes communication audits can create for organizations. They presented their conclusions in 2010 to the IPR Research Conference. They will present an update on results from audits to the same group in March, 2012. Key points from their findings to date are highlighted below. 



   General categories of factors determining whether audits will be successful

  1. Logistics, such as budget, methodology, time and organizational complexity.
  2. Experience levels and status of the communication department, cooperation of HR, previous audit experiences and financial strength of the organization.
  3. Organizational culture.
David Dozier

The most common reasons audit consultants would give to potential CEOs regarding why organizations should conduct audits (selected from options on a survey):

(a) Align communication strategy with organizational strategy (94%).

(b) Provide advance information to help prevent communication breakdown (88%).

(c) Provide reliable, factual information about internal communication (83%).


In addition, the top write-in responses were (d) to fix or improve organizational communication (22%), (e) to align/motivate/reward employees to meet organizational objectives (16%), (f) to help set communication objectives and benchmark efforts (16%), (g) to educate management that communication is legitimate and data-driven, (h) save money through more effective communication (9%), and (i) to understand how a public thinks and to assess the organization's relationships with those publics (9%).


Audit consultants with more years of experience were more likely to choose options (i), (d) and (b), in decreasing order of correlation. Consultants who spend more of their time conducting audits were slightly more likely to suggest to CEOs reasons (a) and (i).


The authors note a major shift in the expectations of management and the consultants over the last 35 years. For example, "in the early days, the byword for findings was to find 'dysfunctions' in the organization's communication efforts, or maybe even to adjust timing and volume of needed communication. Today, the expectations seem to have risen to where ultimate value of an audit is to determine whether communications are contributing to success. And, if so, how. And by how much."


A key conclusion based on write-in comments from participants was that there is a great variation in what different consultants believe can be accomplished by communication audits. However, the study's authors concluded that consultants who make a living conducting audits have deep beliefs about their value: "They are out to save the world; an audit is their religion."


To submit a 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  

The CIPR Inside group continues to debate whether and how ROI should be calculated, including specific discussion of the case study in this month's newsletter.
A Corporate Communication Executives Network member asks what questions should be on a survey focused on an employee magazine's content.
The Measuring Internal Communication forum is discussing ways of measuring video programs. 
A thread on the Melcrum forum is asking members for suggestions for key performance indicators for communicators.
A query has been posted on CommScrum asking for examples of the business case for conducting communication audits
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Calculating ROI

Video of the Month

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Tip of the Month

How to Select a
Survey Sample 


Selecting the right number of people to survey for statistically sound results takes two steps:

   (1) Identify how many respondents you need to have based on the size of your total audience.

   (2) Estimate your likely response percentage so you know how many more people to invite to achieve the number of respondents you need. (For external audiences, a response rate of 5% would be considered pretty good. Employee surveys can usually achieve at least a 25% rate, and significantly higher with one or two reminders and some support from management.)

    Contrary to what most people think, there is no standard minimum response percentage needed. For example, for any group that includes at least 2,000 people, you need only about 350 responses for a margin of error plus or minus 5 percentage points. That means you can achieve that same level of accuracy for an audience of 2,000 with an 18% response rate as you would get for an audience of 2 million with a response rate of 0.02%.

    For audiences smaller than 2,000, you'll need to use statistical tables, like the program available for free at this link. This will also help if your total audience is over 2,000 but you'd like to get fairly accurate data for smaller subgroups within that large group. 

2012 Professional Development Tools

For those who want to build their knowledge of research and measurement this year, consider some of our tools:

Seminars & Workshops

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

(See details & full calendar)


  • 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)
  • April 16, by Skype for Alabama PR Association
  • April 18, Measuring ROI (Long Island IABC)
  • April 19, Austin, on measuring PR (Ragan/Whole Foods)
  • May 7, Toronto, Measuring e-Communication (ALI)
  • May 22, Webinar on communication's ROI (PRSA)
  • June 24, Chicago, Extreme make-over from order-taker to strategist (IABC)


$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

May 7 in Toronto

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 communications for others to learn from.



Angela Sinickas, ABC

Sinickas Communications, Inc.


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Measurement Works 

From Angela Sinickas, ABC

January, 2012