Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


March, 2013

Strategic Planning  

Focus Groups - Surveys Training - Evaluation  


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


This issue of Measurement Works includes tips on how to measure the efficiency of communication departments and an article showing statistics that prove the difference having a professional communication function can make. 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:

  • Client projects: Analyzing the infrastructure of a PR department
  • Tip of the month: Finding patterns between communication research results and related financial results
  • My story:  Lisa Nicole Chen, on "using a pilot to get the C-suite's attention"
  • 7-minute video: Highlights of practical tips on building research into the planning process at little or no cost
  • Article: Survey results show communication is better when done by full-time communicators
  • Workshops: Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, Norway and Brazil; webinars on ROI and identifying measurement skills needed at different times
  • Online forums: ROI of marketing, an example of how Google Analytics can track different online pathways to becoming a customer, benchmarking global face-to-face communication and several discussions on monitoring and measuring different aspects of social media.
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conference in Chicago May 20


Survey results show good communication doesn't happen without the help of full-time communicators

A Sinickas
By Angela Sinickas, ABC  

(Originally published Feb/March 2011 in Melcrum's SCM.)


While most companies have created external PR departments, many of them have been slow to see the value of having a full-time employee communication function. That's short-sighted because my client survey research shows correlations between having a formal internal communication function and better communication and business outcomes.


I first noticed this while presenting communication survey results to a client a few years ago. As I was explaining that three of their business units were reporting consistently higher scores on how well employees understood key company topics and on how strong the communication climate was (accuracy, timeliness, consistency, relevance, etc.), my client explained that those were the only three business units that had full-time internal communication professionals supporting their leaders.


Worse results without communicators


While most of our survey work is for companies that do have communication functions, four clients approached us because they had no function in place and wanted our help in creating one. In these cases we conducted baseline research before many formal systems were in place.


Comparing these four organizations against the rest of the companies that had at least one full-time internal communicator, the results show that having a professional communication function makes a big difference.

  • The companies with an internal communicator had employees who were better informed, on average, by 15 percentage points on 11 key company topics that were included in most of their surveys, ranging from 7 to 26 percentage points for individual topics (see Figure 1).
  • Employees at companies with internal communicators were also 8 percentage points more satisfied with most communication climate factors (ranging from 5 to 11 percentage points on different criteria).
Information level variance from having a function


Improvements when functions were created


At two of these four organizations, we continued to survey employees several years after the communication function was created:

  • At a non-profit, global organization, the information level on understanding the reasons behind decisions went up 25 percentage points and the information level on organizational plans went up 15 percentage points.
  • At a for-profit, global client, information levels went up 27 points on company-wide news, 26 points on how employes can contribute to reaching company goals, 23 points on company plans and 12 points on financial results (see Figure 2). 
How one company's results improved after starting an IC function

We have also seen correlations at clients with regional operating units that clearly showed that the regions that had the highest information levels about company plans were the most financially successful and those 

with the lowest scores were in the bottom ranks of profitability.


So, having an internal communication function really does make a difference in how well informed employees are and how well they are able to contribute to their organizations' success.


 (Read or print out a PDF of the  )   

  Client Project:  

Analyzing a PR department's infrastructure

While it's important to measure the results of our efforts, it's also worthwhile to measure our efficiency in achieving those outcomes.
We were asked to conduct an audit of a client's communication infrastructure and make recommendations that would optimize their efficiency and effectiveness. As part of this project, we asked the communicators in the PR department, as well as people whose jobs involved communication in four different groups outside the PR department, to complete inventories that listed each communication output they worked on, the total time and money spent on each one, and which stakeholders were reached with each one. 
Among the myriad findings, the slide below shows that there were significant numbers of communications going to external audiences that did not come from the official PR department -- often without even their knowledge that it had been disseminated.   
Communications sent to PR audiences, but not from PR departmentAnother view of the numbers collected compared how much PR staff time was spent on communications with various audiences vs. the number of times these audiences were reached by the PR department throughout a single year. The slide below shows that the number of FTEs (on the left scale) spent on communication with the local community and the news media was relatively high, and the number of times these audiences were touched by the organization (on the right scale) was also high.
This shows a high level of efficiency.
On the other hand, while a lot of time was spent on government and industry audiences, there were relatively few times these groups were reached, in comparison. This doesn't necessarily mean that there is a problem, but it does suggest gathering further insight into why there is such a large gap. If it's because each "touch" is a fairly involved communication, such as an annual report or major research paper, these numbers should not indicate that any changes are needed. However, if the types of communications are similar to those used with the first two audiences in terms of the output, it might bear further research to identify why so much staff time is required. If the reason is that more approvals and rewriting are involved, this could be used as data to change the way management approves these communications.  
Comparison of PR department input vs output

 My Story

Feedback is a gift: How statistics, a pilot group and anecdotal feedback launched a training program

Lisa Chen  
Lisa Nicole Chen leads Employee Engagement Communications for the Electronic Systems division of ITT Exelis. She has provided
strategic communication for diverse, global manufacturing, transportation and consumer packaged goods companies in the U.S. and Europe ([email protected]).  


Feedback is a gift tied up with a shiny red bow.  Whether positive or negative, formal or informal, it has enabled me to perform my job better each time I learn from -- and act upon -- the information I've received. 


Most recently feedback played an integral role in launching a manager communications training program at ITT Exelis. To start, my team and I used external studies and internal engagement surveys to develop the case for training managers. This data demonstrated the importance of the manager/employee relationship within an organization. For many forms of information, such as vision and goals, managers provide the context for business messages to be relevant to their teams. In addition, when effective communication is a priority, it improves the organization's bottom line (see TowersWatson study). This data was essential for capturing the attention of the division's senior leaders when we pitched the training. 


Once we had leadership buy-in, we began the program with a pilot class developed with Tracy Benson of On the Same Page. We thanked the participants for being our "guinea pigs" and implored them to provide us with feedback to make the course more relevant. We followed up the training with an anonymous, formal survey and leveraged that feedback into our course curriculum. We learned which portions of the training were most salient and where we could improve. In addition, a change in behavior was most essential to improved communication; therefore, we asked the participants what they planned to do differently. Here's what we heard:

  • "I learned that communication is a process, and I'm going to start planning for it like I do any other activity I perform on the job."
  • "I now understand how much recognition can motivate my team and establish the standard for what I'm expecting. I'm going to highlight accomplishments each week -- maybe every day!" 
  • "I plan to set an agenda each time I'm meeting with my team. I am going anticipate what my employees want to hear, not just what I want to say." 

A brilliant thing happened following the pilot: Our participants continued providing anecdotal feedback about what was working when they returned to their teams. One participant wrote to the division president saying, "I don't understand why this training is NOT mandatory for all employees!  It [the training program] isn't any less important to our future than other mandatory training. They took an important topic and made it relative to our day-to-day jobs, as well as presented it at a level that all of our employees could both understand and benefit from it." 


Our business president did, in fact, mandate the training for the entire division. Ultimately, this groundswell of feedback resulted in our presenting the training to the CEO and other division presidents. This year the program is being launched company-wide in association with our ongoing change management initiatives. From this experience, I've confirmed the value of using metrics to sell an idea, developing a pilot to ensure the idea is working and, in the process, galvanizing an army of goodwill ambassadors that landed us before C-suite leaders. That's how feedback becomes the gift that keeps on giving! 

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.

I'll be in Europe the first two weeks of June 2013
(so far Zurich, Oslo, London, Barcelona and perhaps Belfast) and

Brazil the first week of July with open dates on my calendar. Email me

to inquire about availability for in-house training for your organization.
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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

Correlate Research Results with Financial Outcomes
  Take a closer look at existing research results about communication to see if you can find any patterns between the research data and related business results. Here are some examples from our client projects:
  • The most profitable geographic region for one retailer was also the one whose managers understood the strategy best. The three lowest-scoring regions were all in the bottom five of profitability.
  • Sales of a medically prescribed product were much higher in markets where a celebrity spokes-person had discussed her own related illness than in markets where she had not.
  • Accident rates for a trucking company were highest in the locations where 0% of employees said they had access to safety meetings. Senior leaders had thought these meetings were being conducted because signed attendance sheets were arriving monthly from these sites, but further investigation showed employees were being coerced into signing.
7-Minute Video
Sinickas talks on ways to do easy research

Practical, low-cost ways to build research and measurement into your communication planning

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)


  • 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  

 Advanced Learning Institute 
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:


May 20 in Chicago

Online Discussion Forums

Useful measurement discussions at LinkedIn

There's a robust discussion about marketing ROI going on at the Marketing Communications forum.
Canadian PR consultant Joe Troxler posted information at the IABC forum on how to determine direct and indirect costs of e-business efforts.


On a related note, an Australian participant at CommScrum wonders what others think of a summary of a presentation by social media measurement guru Katie Payne on 8 tips for measuring the ROI of social media.


A participant in the Employee Communications and Engagement forum is looking for benchmarking data on benefits/
trends and/or challenges of 
face-to-face communication in global businesses.


A new member of the Internal Communications Best Practices
group wonders if 70% readership and 12% click-throughs is a good result for his newsletter.
What do you think?


AMEC's Communications Research and Measurement group shares results of a survey that shows measurement is one of the
three largest skills gaps
for communicators.

An infographic about social media monitoring outlines key steps to consider on the Corporate Communications Executive forum.  
On the Corporate Communications Executive NetworkErik Clausen
posts an example of how Google Analytics can show the paths different people took online before becoming converted to customers

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For those who want to build their knowledge of research and measurement this year, consider some of our tools: 2013-01 Audio Kits
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  • Starter Kits of different survey templates and focus group guides
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Measurement Works 

From Angela Sinickas, ABC

March, 2013