Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


January, 2013

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 includes practical tips on get actionable findings from research, including updates on principles and guidelines from various international communication groups on what to measure about internal and external communication. We hope you consider contributing your own suggestions and stories to share with your peers in future issues. And if you like what you see, please feel free to .


In this issue:

  • Special project: Global measurement guidelines for internal and external comms
  • Tip of the month: The secret to winning awards 
  • My story:  Charlie Nordblom, Volvo, on "making the best use of what you've got"
  • 4-minute video How to connect communication to business results
  • Article: Making sure research results in actionable findings
  • Workshops:  California, Connecticut, New York,  Illinois, Mississippi, Norway and Brazil; webinars on ROI and identifying measurement skills needed at different times
  • Online forums: open rates for e-newsletters, response rates for surveys, easy survey software, the use of AVE for PR measurement, and more!
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conference in New York Feb. 28 and Chicago May 20


 How to use communication measures

A Sinickas

By Angela Sinickas, ABC  

(Originally published October 2011 in IABC's
CW Bulletin)


Just like the managers of other business functions, communicators need to measure how effective our work is. However, the metrics need to be ones that we can act on--either to keep doing what we're doing or to know what and how to change.

Ask "actionable" survey questions
To make the best use of metrics from surveys, it helps to ask the right questions with an appropriate range of responses. All too often, I see questions like the following
ones, where the response scales range from agree to disagree, with a neutral point. It's nearly impossible to guess what actions to take if most people disagree with the
following statements:
1. Communication from management is open and honest.
2. New webcasts should be available once each quarter.
3. I receive too much email from the company.


Avoid short cuts when more detail is needed
Even when the scale is more appropriate than "agree/disagree," as for the examples above, asking the wrong "short-cut" question makes it difficult to track true progress. For example, I often see surveys that ask people if they're getting too much, too little or the right amount of information about a particular subject. At first glance, it seems that if 30
percent say they want more information, giving them more information should make that initial percentage get smaller over time. However, it might not. Providing more information on a topic might fill the need for people who were already interested in the subject, but it will also make other people more interested in the topic, which will suddenly increase the percentage of people who want more than they're getting.

The more actionable way to get at this issue is to ask people two questions instead of just one: Ask how interested they are in a subject and how well informed they feel about it. By subtracting the percentage who are informed from those who are interested, you can still see the "gap" of how many want more information than they're currently getting. In addition, you can track progress in getting more people interested in subjects you want them to be engaged in, and track improvements in how many have become better informed. (
Read more on how to do this and how to fix the three questions above.)        


Finally, some standards and guidelines to help us measure the right things in consistent ways 

It all started in Barcelona. In June 2010 a task force of communicators  from a number of international and national communication associations, spearheaded by AMEC, agreed on seven statements that came to be known as the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. One has been highly controversial, that AVE (advertising value equivalency) should not be used to measure the worth of PR. Most of the others were fairly basic (see graphic below). Since the original list was developed, some additional supporting information has been developed for each principle.
At the same time, the IPR has been trying to standardize many definitions and methodologies used for external PR. The June 2012 draft of their Proposed Interim Standards for Metrics in Traditional Media Analysis  is currently soliciting comments before the next draft is distributed. 
Most recently, CIPR Inside  developed a Communication Measurement Matrix in November 2012 focused primarily on internal communication, but adaptable to member and customer communication as well. It breaks out various types of communication outcomes (sentiment, behavior and ROI), as well as the communication outputs that lead to the outcomes (channels, content, conversation and voice). For each one, there are options listed for survey questions to measure that aspect of communication and additional non-survey options, such as content analysis and network analysis. I was delighted to participate in the CIPR Inside's nine-person measurement panel, headed by Kevin Ruck, Chair of CIPR Inside and co-founder at PR Academy, in coming up with the first draft of this matrix. Let me know at [email protected] if you'd like to suggest additions or changes and I'll pass them along to Kevin. 



 My Story

Making do with what you've got

12-04 Charlie Nordblom 

Charlie Nordblom is Senior Vice President at Volvo Group, the world's largest manufacturer of trucks, construction equipment and heavy diesel engines. He is responsible for strategic internal communication and re-designing the corporate culture. Currently he is working on developing "Employee Engagement X4."  He is the moderator of a LinkedIn forum called Communicative Leadership.


Ten years ago, I was asked by our Communications Board to develop some kind of metrics. It was unclear what they wanted to measure, and they didn't care about how. My predecessor had failed to make HR introduce specific communications issues into the employee survey. Meanwhile local communicators had created amateurish surveys, mainly to show that some readers liked their newsletters. I couldn't find a single question there that seemed clear or relevant.


Cajsa Warg wrote the first Swedish cookbook in 1755. She frequently advised housewives to "make the best use of what you've got." This turned into a proverb across frugal Scandinavia. I first decided to re-use nine questions from the existing employee survey. I selected the items that seemed to be measuring some communicative aspect of leadership. Much later I learned that the professionals call this a "construct."


In my Internal Communications Council I had to hold off all attempts to first find a theoretical definition of communicative leadership. I didn't want to waste another minute splitting hairs. "Let's make the best use of what we've got, and get on with it." Our supplier was at the very bottom of the league and couldn't afford to hire a real statistician until 2006. Finally we then got a much wanted regression analysis. All items correlated strongly with the Communications factor, with more varied correlation to Leadership. Three new items instead correlated nicely with Goal Setting.


Over the years we had seen steady, but never spectacular, improvements. We were still struggling in the industrial system. A former plant communicator, Thierry Garnier, then said:  "The worst managers must get an ambulance, those who could survive need penicillin, and the best should be recognized." I decided to introduce a more "personalized" feedback report. This would give each manager practical advice on how to "enhance or maintain" five relative strength areas, and how to address between one and five "improvement areas."


In 2008, Volvo Group's CEO received the Communications Excellence Award from the Swedish PR Association in recognition of  "persistent and resilient work in developing the Communicative Leadership Index that has now become the industry standard." Several consultants have since built their boutiques around CLI clones. During this decade we have moved from measuring a fuzzy concept to several breakthrough insights. Today the new Communicative Leadership Index is a very robust predictor of high performance and "Employee Engagement X4." 

 Online Forums

Useful measurement discussions at LinkedIn  

The Employee Communications and Engagement forum has been discussing open rates for electronic employee newsletters. A separate thread asks for advice on conducting internal focus groups to pretest a campaign. Another participant is receiving advice on whether to combine a communication survey with an engagement survey or to keep them separate.
Suggestions for cost-effective, easy-to-use survey software are being offered on the Marketing Communications forum.
A member of the Corporate Communication forum wants to know where to start when conducting a communication audit. Another question focuses on good response rates for surveys.


In the PR Professionals forum, there's a discussion on how to measure different elements of PR campaigns, including a debate on the role of using AVE as a valid metric.
The IoIC forum is gathering information for a research paper on effective (and less effective) ways of measuring internal communication.
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 or 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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Catch up with
previous issues of
Measurement Works:

 Go to archive


Also see issues focused on specific topics:

Social Media

Calculating ROI

Global Research Tips

Tip of the Month

The Secret to Winning Awards
  The "secret," if there is one, is building in research and measurement. Do upfront research to be sure you fully understand the organizational need and your key audiences. 

  Establish baselines for where you're starting out before your communication is launched. Then repeat the research to measure the progress you made. 

  And above all, be sure that what you're measuring is connected to audience behaviors that lead to financial results, not just improvements in know-ledge and greater satisfaction with a communication vehicle. 

  This approach also ensures that the value of what you're doing is appreciated by your senior leadership team, not just by award program judges.    

  See the Measurement Works entry that won us a PRSA Bronze Anvil commendation for 2012.


4-Minute Video
2013-01 video connecting comms to business results
How to connect communication to business results

Seminars & Workshops

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

(See details & full calendar)


  • Feb. 12, Orange
    County, CA, 
    extreme makeover from order-taker to strategist, and getting leaders to listen (IABC/OC)
  • Feb. 28, New York, measuring impact of customer communication (ALI)
  • March 19, webinar on communication's ROI (SPRF)
  • April 6, Hollywood, FL, infusing strategy into communication (AAMC)
  • April 30, webinar, what you need to know about measurement (PRSA)
  • May 10, Stamford, CT, half-day on measuring communication and ROI (IABC/Westfair)
  • May 20, Chicago, measuring electronic communication (ALI)
  • June 18-19, Oslo, internal communications course (NCA) 
  • June 27-29,
    Sao Paulo, two-day course on measurement (Syracuse University
  • Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, Biloxi, MS, communication measurement (SPRF)  

$400 OFF  

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will offer a $400 discount when you mention Angela Sinickas' name on your registration form for ALI Conferences in 2013 where she is a speaker:



Feb. 28 in New York

May 20 in Chicago

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Measurement Works 

From Angela Sinickas, ABC

January, 2013